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How To Improve Your Test Taking Speed

Time is precious on the SAT or ACT. In order to excel, you must learn to act under pressure. The faster and more confident you are as you take the exam, the more likely you are to achieve an excellent score. There are several strategies you can use to improve your time on the SAT or ACT. Shaving off just a few seconds here and there can give you needed time to focus on challenging questions and perform better overall.

Answer Bubbles

An article from Bloomberg suggests a few methods for not wasting time on filling in the answer bubbles. The first and simplest method is to not waste time being perfectly neat. Fill in each bubble solidly without bleeding into other answer bubbles. This is all Scantron needs to read the answers accurately. You do not have to take the time to fill in each bubble perfectly.

The second is to fill in your answers a page at a time. Circle your answers on the page of the exam, then when you have a whole sheet full of answers go back and fill in the bubble sheet. This will prevent you from wasting time flipping back and forth. It will also help you set a rhythm for answering questions that won’t be interrupted by filling in bubbles. Be vigilant as you fill in the bubbles to make sure you are matching the correct answer with the correct question.

Skip the Hard Questions

If you waste too much time on a difficult question, you may sacrifice the opportunity to answer a question you would have known. Don’t be afraid to take a little time to work out a problem, but when you have no idea how to approach it or just can’t land an answer that seems correct, go on. Leave the answer blank and answer the questions you do know. You can always go back if there is extra time to work out the problems you found too difficult. You don’t want to risk missing out on answering questions you feel confident about.


Practice testing is the best way to prepare for the SAT or ACT for a multitude of reasons. Practice testing will help you feel more familiar with the exam, ultimately improving your speed. When you take practice tests you become familiar with each section and do not need to read the instructions in order to begin. Practice testing also helps you learn how to pace yourself so that you can consistently complete as many questions in each section as possible. Practice testing can help you develop the skills needed to determine when you should skip a question and when you should keep working on a problem.

When you take practice tests under timed conditions, you will have what it takes to excel even when you feel the pressure of the clock on the day of the actual exam.


Don’t second-guess yourself. If you spend time second-guessing your instinct on every question, you will not be able to answer all of the questions. Be confident about your preparation and the knowledge you have to answer each question. If there were questions you were definitely unsure of, go back and rework them when you have time. Otherwise, pick an answer and stick with it.


When you are confident about your skills and know how to manage your stress you will be able to perform well in the amount of time given. Don’t waste too much energy on being worried about the time of the test. Instead, focus on answering each question to the best of your knowledge and you will perform well. When you have studied and prepared for the SAT you will have everything you need to excel on the test.

Sunnyvale SAT Prep

Mr. Test Prep strives to prepare students with his Sunnyvale SAT Prep program. When students engage in his Sunnyvale SAT Prep program their scores reflect the hard work and dedication put forth. Call Mr. Test Prep today and be prepared!

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