The SAT is not only designed to test your knowledge. It wants to know how well you can think, and how well you can think under pressure. One of the skills you will need for college is critical thinking. Knowing facts or equations is not enough. You have to analyze and synthesize material. The SAT wants to ensure that you have the ability to think critically and problem solve. That is why so many people feel there are trick questions on this exam.
Pieces of Truth
The SAT is designed to confuse you so that you have to work for an answer. Most of the choices present an answer that has some truth to them. It is your job to figure out what might be false. The SAT reading and comprehension questions will play on your preconceived notions about the topics, so that you have to wade through what you already know and get to what the text is saying to find correct answers
Solving Word Problems
SAT math wants to demonstrate that you can solve problems. It will present word problems that will give you information you don’t need. You will have to sift through the problem to determine what is significant and how you can solve the problem. You will have to use various techniques and combine multiple skills to get at the right answer.
The process of elimination is one of the keys to doing well on the exam. You are only given four choices. If you can determine even two that are certainly wrong, you have a 50/50 chance of getting the right answer. Train yourself to look for indicators. Are there units in the answer that weren’t in the question? Is the answer too broad or too specific? It there something in the answer that doesn’t directly relate to the question or passage? Look for cues and clues to help narrow down the choices.
Another helpful technique is to attempt to generate the answer before you look at the choices. If the answer you thought of first, without looking, is an available option, it is likely that you are right. Look through the other choices also, because it is possible some answers may include a likely choice that is not quite correct. This is especially possible in the math section. If it looks like another choice could be a possibility test it out to make sure you are choosing the right answer.
Investing in Your Future
As you study and practice, you can develop these essential problem solving and critical thinking skills. The good news is that these skills are necessary for every part of life, not just the SAT. So, your time studying is investing in your future, as well as the exam!