A few years ago, selecting a wrong answer on the SAT would cost you ¼ of a point. This guessing penalty meant that students would only answer questions that they were sure they knew. Any questions they weren’t sure about would be left blank. After all, getting zero points for a few questions is a far better alternative than losing points for incorrect answers.
While this was a great strategy for students taking the SAT prior to 2016, leaving questions blank is not a wise choice today.
There is no longer a penalty for answering questions incorrectly, so students don’t have to worry about whether guessing on questions will cause more harm than good.
Although it is certainly important for students to spend time studying for the SAT so that they don’t have to rely on frequent guessing to make it through the exam, it is okay for them to guess on the test when they don’t know the correct answers.
While it is better for students to guess than to skip a question and leave it blank on their answer sheet, guessing should not be done without purpose.
Like every other aspect of taking the SAT, there are strategies that test-takers need to consider even when guessing on questions they don’t know how to answer.
If you are preparing to take the SAT, here are some guessing strategies that you should keep in mind:
Make educated guesses when possible
One factor you want to make sure you keep in mind when taking the SAT is that every single multiple-choice question on the test has three wrong answers.
If you can think about which answer options can be eliminated from a question, it can allow you to cross off options that you absolutely know are not correct, which will boost your chances of guessing correctly.
If you eliminate two answer options for a question, for example, you will double your chances of guessing correctly.
Before you take a blind guess, see if there are any answer options that contain errors or any answer options that don’t make any sense. By doing this you will increase your odds in the event that you need to guess on a question.
You should also consider tips and strategies for each specific section of the SAT that can help you make an educated guess.
For example, in the Writing and Language section, which frequently presents questions that require students to choose answers that make the author’s language more concise, choosing the shortest answer available will increase the likelihood that your guess will be correct.
Consider your time
When you take the SAT, you have to answer a lot of questions in a limited time.
On the SAT Reading section, for example, you have 65 minutes to answer 52 questions. Simple math lets you know that you don’t have two or three minutes to spend on each of the questions in this section. You have, at most, one minute and 25 seconds per question if you want to finish in time.
This means that you may have to guess on some questions in order to make the best use of your time.
If there are questions that you think you may be able to figure out, but these questions are starting to take up a lot of your allotted per question time, you can mark these questions to go back to them later. If you end up having enough time later on to revisit and review these questions thoroughly, you won’t have to guess on these ones.
However, if you have some questions that you know you have no clue how to answer, and you know you won’t be able to eliminate any of the answer options, you can save a lot of time by guessing and moving on to the next question.
Don’t feel bad about guessing in these scenarios. You aren’t giving up because the question is too hard. You are maximizing your time, which will help you do well on the test in the long run.
Don’t choose random letters
Even if you work hard to prepare for the SAT, you may still encounter a couple of questions where you won’t be able to figure out a single answer option to eliminate.
If you don’t have any clue what the answers might be, even after skipping these questions and coming back to them later, you will have to take a completely random guess. Remember, even a blind guess is better than leaving a question unanswered if that is your only option.
Although your chances of answering questions correctly when you guess without eliminating a single option are slim, they will be much higher if you stick with a single letter option every time you need to guess blindly.
Some people are hesitant about this blind guessing method because they think it is unlikely that the same answer choice might show up multiple times in a row. However, this way of thinking is wrong for one key reason:
The answer options for the SAT are computer-generated and thus completely random.
Unlike when your teacher creates a test and tries to avoid having answers that would lead to four “A’s” in a row or a series of “C’s,” computers don’t weigh this idea when randomizing answer options.
According to a Princeton Review analysis of SAT test answers between the years of 2016 and 2018, the correct answers are split nearly evenly between the four-letter options, meaning each letter option is correct roughly 25% of the time.
This means that if you were to guess the letter “B,” for instance, for each of the multiple-choice questions of the SAT, you would get roughly 25% of these questions correct. On the other hand, if you were to take the SAT and guess random letters for each question on the test, you could end up with a zero depending on your luck.
While 25% might not seem like something to write home about, it’s pretty significant when you consider these two factors:
- You won’t be guessing blindly on the entire test
- 25% is greater than nothing!
If you can confidently answer the majority of the questions on the SAT (with a few questions here and there where you make strong educated guesses), getting a higher percentage of questions correct when you have to guess blindly can make a huge difference.
Pick your favorite letter between A and D, and stick with it whenever you have to guess blindly or if you have to guess on questions you run out of time to review.
Minimize guessing on the SAT
Although it is not the end of the world if you end up needing to guess on a few questions while taking the SAT, the fewer questions you have to guess on the better.
The best way to decrease the chances that you will need to guess on the SAT is to make sure you are well prepared for the test.
If you are familiar with the types of questions you will see in each section, and you have mastered the content covered on the test, you won’t need to guess much if at all on the test. If you do end up guessing, chances are you will be able to make educated guesses instead of guessing blindly.
Sign up for an SAT prep course or private SAT tutoring through PrepExpert and learn how you can prevent yourself from having to guess blindly on the SAT.
Is it worth it to guess on the SAT? ›
The Guessing Penalty
First things first: There is no guessing penalty, so you've got nothing to lose by guessing. That wasn't always the case. Prior to March 2016, the SAT did have a guessing penalty; a quarter of a point was subtracted from your raw score for every wrong answer.
SAT Writing Guessing Tips
You should always cross out answers you know are wrong. For example, if you see word choices in your A, B, C, and D options that seem appropriate except for one, it's probably incorrect.
Guess any letter for any question. It doesn't matter if you guess A,B,A,B or A,A,A,A or any variation. Your expected number of correct answers are equal—actually, you'll actually do sliiightly better by guessing randomly on every question.Is it better to leave answers blank on SAT? ›
You may be happy to learn that wrong answers won't count against you on either the ACT or SAT. Students will be awarded points for each correct answer with no points taken away for any incorrect ones. This is why never leaving an answer blank on your test is so important.Is C usually the correct answer? ›
Myth 2: C is the best guess letter and is right more often than any other letter. C or H are right (and wrong) as often as any other answer choice. The only guess letter you don't want to use when you are completely guessing is E or K because they only show up on the math test.Is C the most common multiple choice answer? ›
Most people (and tutors) tell students that, if they have no idea on a question, to just guess answer choice “C” — the middle answer on most multiple choice tests.What letter is most likely right on the SAT? ›
Every answer choice on the SAT will have a statistically even distribution of 1 in 4 for each answer choice letter, A, B, C, or D. In other words? There is no most common answer on the SAT. Ultimately, guessing C (or any letter!) will give you the correct answer only a statistical 25% of the time.Which SAT section is the hardest? ›
Some find the math portion much harder than the writing or reading portions, and vice versa. The hardest part to improve upon is probably the Critical Reading section, only because it involves more deeply ingrained, long-term bad habits that need to be broken before you can excel.Does GPA or SAT matter more? ›
There are several reasons that the SAT is considered a more valuable admissions tool than your GPA. The most obvious is that the SAT is a standardized test. While your GPA compares you to the rest of your school, your SAT score compares you to the rest of the country. GPAs are not standard.What is the most common answer on multiple choice? ›
On tests with four choices (say, A, B, C, and D), B was slightly more likely to be correct (28%). Remember, the expected likelihood of each option being correct is 25%. And on tests with five choices (say, A, B, C, D, and E), E was the most commonly correct answer (23%). C was the least (17%).
How do you predict what I got on the SAT? ›
The best method to predict your SAT score is to take a full-length official College Board SAT practice test under real testing conditions. It's a big time commitment - over four hours - but it's the most accurate SAT score predictor.How do I ace my SAT test? ›
- Create an SAT Study Schedule. ...
- Use Quality Prep Materials. ...
- Increase Your Reading Speed. ...
- Target the Mistakes You Can Control. ...
- Come to Test Day Prepared. ...
- Answer the Questions You Know First. ...
- Eliminate Incorrect Answers.
It's pretty easy to figure out the difficulty level of questions on the Math Test - sections here generally increase in difficulty as they go on. The first few questions are the easiest, and the last few are the hardest.How many questions should you miss on the SAT? ›
As you can see with the above SAT scoring chart, it's possible to get some questions wrong and still earn the max SAT score. Generally speaking, you can miss 1-2 questions on each section and still get a perfect 1600.What do you do if you don't know an answer on the SAT? ›
Guess the Answer
If you still can't find the answer, bubble in a guess. Never, ever leave a question blank—you won't be penalized for wrong answers, you just won't gain additional points. It's multiple-choice, so you've got a decent chance at guessing the right answer anyway.
The idea that C is the best answer to choose when guess-answering a question on a multiple choice test rests on the premise that ACT answer choices are not truly randomized. In other words, the implication is that answer choice C is correct more often than any other answer choice.What is the best answer to choose on a multiple choice test? ›
Eliminate the highest and lowest options. Certain questions have answers that are closely related or almost identical, except for one detail. This should be your clue to choose one of the two similar answers. The similar choices cannot both be correct, but either of them may be the correct answer.Is it better to guess the same letter? ›
In truth, you have a higher likelihood of getting questions right by guessing the same letter every time than by skipping around. But why? The reason is twofold. For one, using a guessing letter saves you time and ensures a random guess.Which is lowest common multiple? ›
In Mathematics, the Lowest Common Multiple (LCM) of any two or more natural numbers is the number that is the lowest of their common multiples. It is also called Least Common Multiple or Least Common Divisor (LCD). For example, the lowest common multiple of 4 and 6 is 12.Why is C very important? ›
One of the most significant features of C language is its support for dynamic memory management (DMA). It means that you can utilize and manage the size of the data structure in C during runtime. C also provides several predefined functions to work with memory allocation.
What is the least common multiple? ›
What is LCM? LCM stands for least common multiple. The least common multiple of two numbers is the smallest number that is a multiple of both of them.What is the easiest SAT? ›
Myth: The March SAT® is the easiest SAT test date. Fact: There's no such thing as “the easiest SAT test date.” While it's true that some versions of the SAT are easier than others, it's false that some test dates are predictably easier than others.How rare is a perfect SAT score? ›
How Many People Get A Perfect SAT Score? Yearly, less than 1% of all test-takers get a perfect score. That's hundreds out of nearly three million people who take the test. The people who score perfect aren't necessarily the smartest test-takers–but they are often the most prepared.What SAT score do most colleges look for? ›
How SATs Are Scored- the Background. The SAT has two sections, Math and Evidence-based Reading and Writing, with each scored on a scale from 200 to 800. To get into one of the top 100 most selective schools, you will generally need to have a composite SAT score of at least 1200, preferably 1400 or more.What is the lowest SAT score accepted? ›
The SAT is among the most important placement exams many high school students take. It could determine whether or not they get into their desired college or university, affecting their entire future, or it may affect the scholarships they get. The minimum score on the SAT is 400, and the highest you can get is 1600.What is the best month to take the SAT? ›
It's generally best to take the SAT in the fall or spring of your junior year and then again in the fall of your senior year. The specific month you choose depends on your outside commitments and how much time you want to prepare for the exam.Is SAT math harder than reading? ›
Is the SAT Reading or Math section harder? It generally depends on a person and their subject skills, but most people find the SAT Math — No Calculator section more challenging.Why is my GPA high but SAT low? ›
You've worked hard over your four years of high school to maintain top grades, whereas the SAT reflects a single day's performance. Your SAT score definitely matters, but know that your GPA does carry more weight in the process because of this. You could have just had a bad day on your SAT test date.What if my GPA is low but SAT is high? ›
It is important to recognize that a student with high SAT scores and a low GPA should consider applying to less competitive colleges because their SAT will help them stand out in the applicant pool and assure that the applicant gets a closer look.Does Harvard prefer SAT? ›
SAT and ACT tests are better predictors of Harvard grades than high school grades, but this can vary greatly for any individual.
Is every question on the SAT worth the same? ›
You'll get 1 point for each correct answer. There's no penalty for incorrect answers. Next, the College Board converts your raw scores for each SAT section — Math, Reading, and Writing and Language — into scaled test scores, which use a scale of 1-40.What are the odds of getting a perfect SAT score guessing? ›
Certainly at least one person would get a perfect score, right? Well, no, and here's why: there are 158 multiple-choice questions on the SAT, and a random guess has a 20% chance of being right. In layman's terms, a student has a one out of twenty-seven quinquatrigintillion chance of getting a perfect score.Do SAT scores really predict success? ›
SAT scores are strongly predictive of college performance—students with higher SAT scores are more likely to have higher grades in college. SAT scores are predictive of student retention to their second year—students with higher SAT scores are more likely to return for their second year.Are all questions on the SAT worth the same? ›
IN FACT, EVEN THE HIGHEST-SCORING STUDENTS SKIP A QUESTION HERE AND THERE. It is also important to remember that every SAT problem is worth the same amount of points. Hard problems might take longer and have a higher degree of difficulty, but that doesn't mean you get any sort of extra credit.Does guessing count against you on the SAT? ›
Most of the questions are multiple choice, though some of the math questions ask you to write in the answer rather than select it. On all questions, there's no penalty for guessing: if you're not sure of the answer, it's better to guess than leave the response blank.How many questions can I miss on the SAT to get a 1500? ›
To get 1500 SAT, you need to get at least 48 right out of 52 in the Reading section. 41 right out of 44 in the Language section and 55 right out of 58 in the Maths section.How hard is it to get 1400 on SAT? ›
A 1400 SAT score puts you at the 95th percentile, meaning you scored higher than 95% of all test takers.What was Mark Zuckerberg SAT score? ›
The founder of Facebook scored the perfect 1600 on the SAT and attended Harvard University. There's no surprise there on the score or prestigious university!
A 1600 is only achieved by around 300 test takers per year and makes you eligible and highly competitive for admission at every college. Looking at this from another angle, a 1600 SAT score is in the 99nth percentile, which means you scored higher than 99% of all other 2 million+ test takers.Do colleges care more about GPA or SAT? ›
Why is Your SAT Score More Important? There are several reasons that the SAT is a more valuable admissions tool than your GPA. Most obviously, it's because the SAT is a standardized test. While your GPA compares you to the rest of your school, the SAT compares you to the rest of the country.
Do SAT scores outweigh GPA? ›
Another way to reassure colleges is with SAT Subject Tests.
If you are confident of your ability on tests, and you have even a bit of time to devote to studying, a high SAT subject score or two could help prove your ability in academic subjects and help overshadow your GPA.
The rushed reports don't really make that much of a difference (if any) as to when colleges receive your scores since normal score reports take about two weeks and rushed score reports take about 1.5 weeks. It's a lot of money, and they're essentially never worth it.How many questions can you miss on the SAT to get a 1200? ›
For Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, you can skip/answer incorrectly on average 9 questions on the writing portion and 12 questions on the reading portion. For Math, you can skip/answer incorrectly on average 17 questions between the calculator and no-calculator sections.What is the hardest section on the SAT? ›
Some find the math portion much harder than the writing or reading portions, and vice versa. The hardest part to improve upon is probably the Critical Reading section, only because it involves more deeply ingrained, long-term bad habits that need to be broken before you can excel.How hard is it to get 1200 on SAT? ›
What percentile is a 1200 SAT score? Earning a 1200 SAT score puts you at the 74th percentile, meaning that you scored higher than 74% of test takers.