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Common Mistakes to Avoid when Taking the SAT

Have you sat for the SAT yet? No? Then we ‘re JUST in time with our pointers to bring out the best you for the exam...

Mahesh Ramani

Speed is of the essence, but in your eagerness to complete the test do not end up making careless mistakes like adding values instead of subtracting them.

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‘SAT’ originally stood for Scholastic Aptitude Test a popular academic proficiency test used by institutions in the USA to filter applicants to undergraduate programmes. Over the years the test structure has changed and currently the test is just known as ‘SAT’ and is no longer an acronym.

Currently, the SAT has three test modules - Writing, Critical Reading and Mathematics. The test structure is slated to change in March 2016. In all due probability, the test might become a bit more tough to enable institutions to pick the best students. If you are planning to write the SAT, this article will help you avoid common mistakes and boost your SAT score.

Haste makes waste:

Speed is of the essence, but in your eagerness to complete the test do not end up making careless mistakes like adding values instead of subtracting them. No one is going to give you an award for completing the SAT in the quickest possible time. So please focus and utilize your time effectively and complete the test.  The aim is not to answer all the questions. Your aim should be to answer the maximum number of questions correct.

Read with care:

The Critical Reading passage may seem to be an easy bit. Do not get fooled - even the best minds can get foxed while attempting this section. One tip that most experts offer is to have a cursory glance at the comprehension questions and then read the passage. When you have a hint of what you need to find it will become easier to complete this section. 

SinΘ/ CosΘ = Tan Θ:

‘Mathematics’ - Fun for some terror for many! The key to cracking the SAT is to understand that every question carries an equal point / mark. Just because one question in the Mathematics section runs to five lines and the other has two pie-charts with a one-line query - does not make either question more important than the other. Every question is equal - so please do not break your head over a question that you are not able to figure out.

Skip, skip, skip:

One always wonders at the collective genius of the team at the College Board, which prepares the questions for the SAT. No one knows why they create some questions that are designed to torture innocent students and perplex them deeper and deeper! 

Sample this question:
Solution X is 10 percent alcohol by volume, and solution Y is 30 percent alcohol by volume. How many milliliters of solution Y must be added to 200 milliliters of solution X to create a solution that is 25 percent alcohol by volume? 

  • A - 250/3
  • B - 500/3
  • C - 400
  • D - 480
  • E - 600

Did you get the answer right on your first guess? Congrats!- Not many students can ace questions like this. The correct answer for this question is - ‘Option E - 600’.

The Golden Rule is - ‘If you are unsure of a question, please skip the question and go on to the next question’.

Tips to Ace the SAT:

  • Read a lot and improve your vocabulary.
  • Take enough practice tests and improve your confidence.
  • Non-native speakers of English are advised to read - ‘The Economist’, ‘The New York Times’ and ‘The Guardian’ to score better in the Reading Comprehension and Writing parts of the SAT.
  • Write a lot of practice essays and ask your friends and teachers to read and offer their inputs.
  • Reach the exam venue on time.
  • The day before the test - get a good eight hours of sleep and go to the test with a relaxed mind.
  • In case, you fare badly in the test, do not worry, it is not end of the world. You can spend more time to prepare for the test and retake the SAT with additional preparation.

Have you taken the SAT? Would you like to share your thoughts on how you got a good SAT score? Please offer your tips in the ‘Comments’ section below. 

Want to know more about the SAT?

Nupur Verma Nupur Verma,
Study abroad expert.
Our advisors can help you with some great tips that will help you crack the SAT. Request a call from our advisors to get FREE test prep guidance. Or call 1800 103 2581 / 1800 103 9634 (toll-free) today!