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Does anyone have any good guessing strategies for the SAT and ACT?

Nflpackers96Nflpackers96 Registered User Posts: 364 Member
I have a major problem when it comes to guessing. I am probably the worst guessed in the world. I have not kept an official tally, but I would say that I miss 90% of my guesses. That is not an exaggeration at all. I would really appreciate any guessing strategies that you guys have to offer.

Replies to: Does anyone have any good guessing strategies for the SAT and ACT?

  • CHD2013CHD2013 Registered User Posts: 2,528 Senior Member
    For the SATs, stop guessing (except for the grid-ins on math). You're hurting your score unless you average at least one correct answer for every four guesses.

    For the ACTs, keep guessing. Do you usually go with your gut or think it through in-depth and then answer. Each approach works better for some people. Try to test it and see which works better for you.
  • nakorurunakoruru Registered User Posts: 146 Junior Member
    Have a Korean "tiger mom" who has you study SAT prep-books and vocabulary flash cards since you are 10 years old. Not that I am bitter or anything....
  • elvisthepupelvisthepup Registered User Posts: 236 Junior Member
    For the SATs, stop guessing (except for the grid-ins on math). You're hurting your score unless you average at least one correct answer for every four guesses.


    Perhaps instead of abandoning guesses (which if you are aiming for high scores may be required) the OP should simply revise his or her strategy (which is really what the OP asked for). It would help to know what score you are aiming for and what score you are currently attaining.

    Because the ACT stresses speed and has no incorrect penalty I would advise going with your gut, BUT I'm not sure because I'm not very familiar with the test.

    If you don't immediately see the answer, don't panic/guess.

    First, eliminate the wrong answers. By eliminate, I mean completely cross out once you are sure it's wrong. Depending on the person, out of sight is out of mind. You need to MOVE ON from wrong answers. Advocating for wrong answers is the #1 waste of time in the SAT. Usually, you should be able to eliminate some answers right off the bat. Say you have 2-3 answers left. At this point you should have not spent much time on the question. Look for reasons the remaining answers are WRONG not right. SAT trick answers have many things right with them (which is why kids pick them) but often few/one thing wrong. Strategies differ depending on the type of problem. What type of problem do you have the most trouble with?

    -Plug in answers back into the problem (CR, M-MC, W-MC). With absolutely no knowledge on how to solve the problem, you can find the right/eliminate answers in the math MC. For CR/W-MC it can tip off wrong answers.
    -For CR passages, consider what the author is attempting to say (IK this seems obvious) and why the SAT chose the passage(s). If you don't know the answers, you can generally assume:

    -Passages about art are discussing the value of art (see Plato) and what makes art good. Often there will be dual passages offering differing views on the aforementioned themes.
    -Passages about technology are discussing whether or not technology is a negative aspect depriving society of older things (books, family discussion, etc.) or a positive aspect that can coexist with the past. Again, you might see dual passages about that those themes.
    -Passages about minorities (women, African-Americans, 1st-Gen, Native Americans, Hispanics, etc.) will be positive. They often show past struggle, such as culture separation (one's family culture vs. blending in with mainstream America). Remember that SAT is American. Also, you may see passages about how a culture's idea may be lost in translation as it is transferred to another culture.

    will edit this later when i have time
  • Nflpackers96Nflpackers96 Registered User Posts: 364 Member
    Right now I am in the 2100 range. I want to get to 2200 by May 3.

    I don't have much of a problem on the writing section. CR is my main problem. I'm not a fast reader, so sometimes when I feel like I am on a time crunch I get flustered and overlook details. My problem with math is that I'm so good at it that I get overconfident and don't pay enough attention, which means I end up falling for the "tricks" in the question.

    Thanks a lot for the great in-depth responses.
  • CHD2013CHD2013 Registered User Posts: 2,528 Senior Member
    @Elvis - you make it sound easy to find the right answer on every problem or maybe winnow it down to two choices. That might be the case for you. However, if the OP could do that, he/she wouldn't have a 10% hit rate on guesses. The SAT is written to mislead testers leading to the wrong answer on guesses. So I agree, use the tried and true methods to try to improve the hit ratio on guesses. If it doesn't work the OP will be better off to eliminate guessing.

    By the way, many SAT "experts" suggest never guessing for some of the reason stated above. I don't subscribe to that plan as a rule. Everyone studying for the test though should keep track of their hit rate on guessing and adjust their strategy accordingly.
  • elvisthepupelvisthepup Registered User Posts: 236 Junior Member
    edited April 2014
    I don't mean to make it sound "too" easy, but it's likely more easy than the OP believed, and I wanted him/her to be aware of that. You simply said "stop guessing." Without knowing the wanted score that could be very bad advice. Achieving a high score, such as a 2200, (that's why I asked for OP's current/aspired score) is generally very hard to do without winnowing and guessing. If ceasing guessing brings the OP to 2200 then that's great, but it might not be the case.

    I agree, tracking guesses is absolutely beneficial. OP should go look at how what % she gets on practice tests and what type of errors she is making. I'm not the OP was being serious when he/she said the 1/10 rate. Ascending to the 1/4 threshold should be the goal.

    For the M, get involved. When you take the test, make it seem really important. Read the question intently and make sure your answer makes sense.

    Read the CR questions slowly, looking over every single word. An extra two seconds reading the question thoroughly is really worth it. Be aware of the typical types of incorrect answers. From the CR...

    -Too broad (e.g. the passage discusses one author while the answer refers to all authors)
    -Too extreme (e.g the passage is slightly negative but the answer is extremely negative)
    -Partially right, partially wrong (e.g. right information, wrong POV)
    -Could be true, but there isn't enough info to tell
    -Factually true but not stated in passage
    -True for passage as a whole, but not for the specific lines stated in the question

    Apply tips and practice your guessing. Track your guesses. If you can eliminate 1 answer and achieve at least 1/4 correct, then go ahead and guess whenever you can eliminate 1 answer. If you only reach the 25% when you can eliminate 2 answers or 1 with a strong inclination towards a certain answer, then adjust accordingly.

  • testadvicetestadvice Registered User Posts: 186 Junior Member
    edited April 2014
    @elvisthepup - great advice, but I disagree with the commonly used (I am only talking about the SAT here) "If you can eliminate 1 answer and achieve at least 1/4 correct, then go ahead and guess whenever you can eliminate 1 answer" formula. Here is why: it assumes that you did not eliminate a correct answer. Even if there is a .0000000000001% chance a student eliminated the right answer, then guessing on 1 elimination will put you at a statistical disadvantage. Eliminate two, but here is a rule: only eliminate if you know what you are eliminating, don't eliminate something if you do not know what it means.

    I agree with some of the other posters that it would be helpful to know your current and target score.
  • Nflpackers96Nflpackers96 Registered User Posts: 364 Member
    My current score is around 2100, and I want to break 2200.
  • MITer94MITer94 Registered User Posts: 4,747 Senior Member
    Obviously, if you can eliminate one or more answer choices, your expected value from guessing is positive, and you may want to guess (I am usually hesitant if I only eliminate one and have no idea among the rest, but if two or three are gone I usually guess). For math grid-ins, if you are out of time, guess on any unanswered problems. However don't waste too much time guessing!
This discussion has been closed.