One of the most important aspects to good test-taking is finding ways to save time.
Speed means you won’t have to skip questions because you’re out of time, you can double-check your work for careless mistakes, and you’ll have more time to work on difficult questions. The math section of the SAT is an ideal section for raising your score, simply by implementing some key time-saving techniques.
Before The Test
Get familiar with the test
Check out practice tests so you understand the structure and instructions on the test beforehand. Make sure you know how to grid in your answers, where formulas are located, how much time you are allowed for each section, and what you are allowed to bring with you to the test. This way, you can use the time you would have otherwise spent reading instructions or looking for formulas to double-check work or think through more difficult problems.
Get familiar with the questions
The College Board deliberately designs unique questions that feel different from questions you’ve seen before. Familiarizing yourself with the types of questions they ask will help you to recognize immediately what kind of approach to use to solve them, as well as help save you time. Consider using an SAT prep mobile app to review practice questions on the go.
Practice for efficiency
Use one practice test to assess your comfort with different types of math questions; then, spend a week or two reviewing the concepts you had trouble with before you take other practice exams. Treat all practice exams as if they were the real test; time yourself and complete them as quickly as you can without looking up answers. Take practice tests until you can regularly finish them with time to spare.
Solve practice questions until you get them right
Use any practice test questions you missed to study from. Look up the correct answer to each one you got wrong, but don’t look up the solution just yet. Simply resolve the problem yourself until you can get the correct answer on your own. This method will help you train for thinking through the problem; simply reading through the correct solution is asking yourself to rely on memory rather than skills on test day.
On Test Day
Bring a watch or keep an eye on the clock
This might seem obvious, but it will help you to manage your time if you know how long you’ve spent on a problem and how much time you have left to complete the section. Even if the testing location has a clock, you may not be able to see it from your seat, so consider taking a watch.
Skip questions you can’t solve and return to them later
As of March 2016, the SAT no longer penalizes test-takers for wrong answers, so it will be important to fill out answers for every question, even if you have to guess. But don’t waste your time on questions you’re not sure about; skip them and get through all the problems you have confidence in first. If you have time at the end, return to the harder or more confusing questions. It might help to come up with a system to mark the troublesome questions so you can go straight to them instead of searching them out.
Giving yourself more time on the math section of the SAT will give you the chance to increase your score. While a lot of improvements can be made as you prepare and study, you can also implement time-saving techniques on the day of the test, and use that extra time to double-check answers and revisit difficult problems.