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Test-Taking Approaches

Approaches to help students do their best on test day

Help your students do their best on test day with these approaches:

  1. Take the Subject Tests when the content is fresh in your mind. That is often at the end of the course for subjects like biology, chemistry, and world history. It could also be after you have studied a subject for several years (a language, for example). Your teacher or counselor can help you decide.
  2. Know what to expect. Become familiar with the organization of the tests you are interested in, the types of test questions, and test day procedures.
  3. Know the test directions. For every five minutes spent reading directions, you will have five fewer minutes available to answer questions. Learn directions ahead of time.
  4. Do the easier questions first. The easier questions are usually at the beginning of a grouping of questions. You can earn as many points for easy questions as you can for hard questions.
  5. Know how the tests are scored. You get one point for each right answer and lose a fraction of a point for each wrong answer. You neither gain nor lose points for omitting an answer.
  6. Guess smart. If you can rule out one or more answer choices for a multiple-choice question as definitely wrong, your chances of guessing correctly among the remaining choices improve. If you have no clue as to the correct answer, random guessing is not to your advantage. You should omit questions only when you really have no idea how to answer them.
  7. Use the test book for scratch work to cross off answers you know are wrong, and to mark questions you did not answer. Be sure to mark your answers on the separate answer sheet because you won't receive credit for any answers you marked in the test book.
  8. Don't make extra marks on the answer sheet. The answer sheet is machine scored, and the machine can't tell an answer from a doodle.
  9. Get familiar with the SAT Subject Tests answer sheet. A copy appears in the back of The Official Study Guide for all SAT Subject Tests™. Your school library should have a copy of this publication.
  10. You may use an acceptable calculator on the Mathematics Level 1 and Mathematics Level 2 tests only.
  11. Take an acceptable CD player and extra batteries to the test center if you are registered for any of the listening tests. Test centers will not have extra CD players or batteries for your use.

Customized Entry Pages

Related Materials

Go to the SAT Downloads and Materials Ordering page to view and print these and other related materials:

  • SAT Subject Tests: A Guide for Educators
  • Getting Ready for the SAT Subject Tests

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