How to Separate the Good from the Bad on the SAT – Part 5

We have gone through multiple tips to help you to pick the right answer and avoid the wrong ones. Yet, there may come some points in the test when you just can’t figure out the right answer, even with all the tricks that you’ve learnt! Well, do not despair. This  trick is perhaps the most important one and can be used in conjunction with the rest of the other tips you have learnt! Do not panic if you cannot figure out right away which is the right answer and which are the wrong answers – this happens to everyone at some point. Stay calm and think through what you can do.


[Continue reading to find out more about what this next trick is…]

Eliminate, eliminate, eliminate! This is perhaps the single most useful tip you can have. Sometimes, when none of the answers looks like the right one, you can make your task easier by eliminating the answers that are wrong for sure. There are “bad” answers and there are “really bad” answers. The trick here is to narrow down your choices such that you choose the best out of the remaining ones. Simple math teaches us that if you have 5 choices, choosing one out of the five gives you a 20% chance of getting it right. On the other hand, narrowing the choices down to 2 choices, gives you a 50% chance of getting it right! You have increased your chances of getting it right by 30%, which is a large percentage by any standards. Often, there is at least one answer that clearly is wrong. That answer might be the extreme answer, or it might be an answer that does not make sense at all. Well, in that case, eliminate that answer!

Here is an example:

In Greek mythology, Hades, the realm of the dead, is guarded by ____ dog. (Ref: sparknotes)

(A) an anthropomorphic

(B) a sanguinary

(C) a sesquipedalian

(D) a delicious

(E) a sententious

Although you might be completely clueless about the options (A), (B), (C), and (E), it is unlikely that you would not know what (D) meant! Additionally, although delicious dog might be seem plausible to you when it refers to a hotdog, it is clearly evident in this situation that it is not appropriate in this situation. Thus, you would eliminate option (D)! This raises your chances of getting the right answer to 25% from 20%. Keep on doing this process of elimination and eventually you would choose the right answer! The next step, of course, if you are unsure about the remaining answers would be to guess. This tip will be covered in the next article so keep on reading to find out more!

All the best! Keep on practicing!

Additional Reading:

Please check out my next post on this 6 part series on how to separate the good from the bad on the SAT:

Please check out my previous posts in this series:

About the author: Shimin Ooi is a junior in Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs department. She has a strong interest in economic and health policy and has recently returned from a semester of study at Hertford College, Oxford. In high school, her extensive research on standardized tests helped her achieve a near perfect SAT score and perfect scores on each of her SAT Subject tests. Through these blog posts, she hopes to help others achieve test-taking success as well!

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