How to Separate the Good from the Bad on the SAT – Part 6

This is the last post in the series of How to Separate the Good from the Bad! But, all of the previous tips mentioned don’t just work without any practice. You will need to consistently remind yourself of them and integrate them until they become automatic processes that are ingrained without your memory. The SAT takes work, but fret not because your hard work can pay off! Now, on to this last tip!

guessing numbers(Picture source: Adrienne Heger)

[Continue reading to find out what the last tip is…]

The last tip is actually the wonderful tool of guessing! And this tool has become more important in the new format of the SAT which does not deduct a quarter of a point any longer for wrong answers. Thus, leaving a blank answer on any of your questions cannot be the most optimal thing for you to do. Guessing seems like such a commonsense tool that everyone has, but the really important part comes from knowing how to guess wisely.

1. Combine guessing with all the other tips. Guessing becomes more and more effective when you are left with fewer and fewer choices. Eliminating answers that are clearly wrong and narrowing down your options helps you to make the correct guess more often than not. If you eliminate just one wrong answer choice, you are left with four answer choices to guess from. Randomly guessing from the four remaining answer choices gives you a 25% chance of guessing correctly!

2. Put each remaining answer choice in the blank and read the full sentence with the possible answer together. What this does is that it helps you to visualize how the possible answer choice would fit into the sentence. Reading the sentence as a whole helps to run it through your mind and test its fluency. You should also be able to pick out answers that just sound awkward and out-of-place. Those answers are probably not be the right one!

3. For vocabulary words, look at the root of each word to help you guess more effectively! Most words have a word root and being able to decipher the meaning of the word and how it could possibly fit in with the rest of the sentence will definitely help!

For example:

The mysterious plant in the backyard was a ____________. It seemed to always turn towards the sun.

(A) scavenger

(B) heliotrope

(C) dynamic

(D) orthodox

(E) pseudopod

Looking at the root of the right answer (B), helio, helps you to guess whether it is the right answer, even if you didn’t know the meaning of the word “heliotrope”. The root “helio” means sun, and thus “heliotrope” refers to any plant that turns toward the sun. To guess this question right, you actually don’t have to know the full meaning of the word!

Guessing is not just pure intuition. There is a skill to it as well and you can practice that skill! Good luck! :)

Additional Reading:

Please check out my previous posts in this 6 part series on how to separate the good from the bad on the SAT:

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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