The SAT is primarily multiple choice, with the exception of the essay and a few grid-in math questions. While it is always helpful to know without a doubt the correct answer, when you don’t know, multiple choice works in your favor. You have a one in four chance of getting the answer correct. If you can eliminate even a single choice, you odds improve. Often, you can use elimination to arrive at a single correct answer. Use these three tips for eliminating answers so that you can get closer to your goal score.
Look for any answers that don’t line up quite right with the questions. In math problems, this may be the wrong unit. For other topics, it could mean a concept that isn’t mentioned in the reading, or a detail not offered in the data. These little things that just don’t fit are indicators of a wrong answer.
SAT questions must have a single clear answer that cannot be contested. When you see answers that use ambiguous language such as “sometimes”, or “almost never” it can be a wrong answer. There are times when these answers can be correct, so if you can make a clear argument for it being the only right answer, select it. However, if there is any doubt in your mind between an ambiguous choice and a more concrete answer, choose the answer that cannot be argued as incorrect.
3) Plug It In
For math problems and vocabulary problems, you can often work backwards. Instead of trying to solve the problem, plug in the number or definition. If it doesn’t work in the context of the question you can eliminate that answer. When you are doing this for reading or vocabulary, make sure the answer does not change the meaning of the passage. There are answers that may look correct, but if the meaning of the passage is changed, it is wrong.
It will always benefit you to make a guess on the multiple choice. There is no good reason not to guess on every single question that you don’t know a clear answer to. If you cannot eliminate any answers, skip ahead and see whether or not some of the following questions can jog your memory. Don’t forget to go back and fill in an answer. You shouldn’t leave any bubbles blank, even if you have to make a blind guess.