SATs, ACTs, and Standardized Tests - FamilyEducation

SATs and Other Tests

Planning ahead is crucial for the SATs and ACTs.. Get tips, practice tests, and advice to help your teen be prepared —, mentally and physically —, when the big day arrives.

Blanks Cost You Points

Blanks Cost You PointsMost people believe that on the SAT, blanks "don't count." They probably think that blanks don't count because a blank sounds like nothing or a zero, so leaving a question blank must cost zero points. These people are wrong, and you can prove it to yourself with the answer to a simple question. What kind of SAT score would you have if you left every question blank? read more

Changing the Way You Take the SAT

Changing the Way You Take the SATThere's nothing natural about taking the SAT. Many of the problem solving techniques you'll be learning here won't feel natural at first, either. Indeed, it's natural to resist change, any kind of change. read more

Don't Finish Early

Don't Finish EarlyNo Matter What Your Score Level, You'd Better Not Finish Any Section Early If you've finished a section early—it doesn't matter how good a test-taker you are—you've rushed. Your goal is to pace yourself throughout each section so that when the proctor says "Stop, put your pencils down," you've just finished answering the last question you were working on or just taken your last buzzer shot guesses. read more

Don't Rush, but Don't Linger

Don't Rush, but Don't LingerWhat's a few seconds, right? Doesn't sound like very much time, does it? But if you waste even a few seconds on each question of the SAT, you'll have lost 15 minutes by the end of the exam! Gone, vanished. And 15 minutes is enough time to answer fifteen questions. In other words, if you waste just a few seconds per question, you'll be risking as much as 150 points by the end of the exam. read more

Getting a Good Score Without Finishing

Getting a Good Score Without FinishingSuppose you received a score of 80 out of 100 on a test at school. Would that be a very good score, a good score, an average score, or a bad score? Well, on the SAT, 80 percent right is better than a 650 on the reading, writing, or math tests. That's a combined score of 1950, a score level achieved by only one in ten college-bound students. In other words, you could leave one sixth of the questions completely blank, make a few mistakes, and still achieve a very good score. read more

Guessing Does Not Hurt Your Score

Guessing Does Not Hurt Your ScoreBad guessing hurts your score; good guessing helps your score. I'm serious. Only two things hurt your score: blanks and errors. Here, look at it this way. Every time you get to a question, you have two options: answer the question or don't answer it. Every time you don't answer a question, you lose 10 points. read more

How Important is that SAT Score?

How Important is that SAT Score? read more

How Much Can You Raise Your SAT Score?

How Much Can You Raise Your SAT Score?As we just discussed, how much and how rapidly you can raise your SAT score depends on how willing you are to change the way you take the test. Your potential improvement depends on other factors, of course, so it's impossible to give an average answer. Here are some other general considerations: The more time you have to prepare and the more dedicated you are, the more improvement you can expect. The higher your starting scores, the less room there is for improvement. read more

How Much Do You Know About Taking the SAT?

Use this quiz to uncover the test-taking myths that might interfere with your success on the SAT. read more

How Much Do You Know About Taking the SAT? - Answers

Answer Sheet for How Much Do You Know About Taking the SAT? read more

How Much Time Should You Spend Per Question?

How Much Time Should You Spend Per Question?Each Question Is Worth the Same, So Spend Your Time Where It's Likely to Do the Most Good read more

How the SAT Is Scored

How the SAT Is ScoredThe SAT consists of three separate tests—reading, writing, and math—each with its own 200 to 800 score. The lowest possible total score is 600; the highest possible score is 2400. Now, the moment you enter the exam room and start taking the test, guess how many points you start off with. The answer surprises most people: 2400. That's right: for signing your name on the answer sheet, you start off the test with 2400 points. I kid you not; when you enter the exam room, your starting score is 2400. That's the good news. read more

How to Gain (or Lose) 30 IQ Points — Instantly!

How to Gain (or Lose) 30 IQ Points — Instantly!Hint: Your Pencil Is Smarter Than You Are Now that you know the tricks your brain can play on you on the SAT, you can better appreciate the importance of being hyper-cautious in every aspect of your work on the test. Remember: any mistake on the SAT costs you valuable points; the computer grading your test does not forgive "just silly" mistakes the way your teachers in school often do. read more

How Your Brain Can Get You into Trouble

How Your Brain Can Get You into TroubleYour brain is an amazing organ. It operates all the time, making sense of the world around you. Without your trying, your brain continuously sorts through the stream of impressions it receives from your various senses, and pieces together meaningful information from all this data. Your brain continuously interprets what you see and hear—and it does so largely without your awareness. (Bear with me for a few seconds. You'll see how this all creates a hidden danger for you on every section of the SAT shortly.) read more

Introduction to the SAT Math Test

Introduction to the SAT Math TestHow SAT Math Is Different from Classroom Math read more

Introduction to the SAT Reading Test

Introduction to the SAT Reading TestWhat Does the SAT Reading Test Measure? The SAT Reading Test consists of three sections—two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section—containing 19 sentence completion questions and 48 reading comprehension questions for a total of 67 questions. In no particular order, you'll encounter the following: 25-minute section: 8 sentence completions and 16 reading questions 25-minute section: 5 sentence completions and 19 reading questions read more

Introduction to the SAT Writing Test

Introduction to the SAT Writing TestRaise Your SAT Writing Score by 100 Points (or More) in One Week (Practically) Guaranteed! read more

Knowing What to Do on the SAT -- and Doing It

Knowing What to Do on the SAT -- and Doing ItThe world's worst—and most universal—advice to students about to take the SAT is relax. This advice is awful for two major reasons. First, it's flat out wrong: if you want to relax on the SAT, take a pillow into the exam room and put your head down on the desk when the test begins. There's nothing relaxing about taking the SAT, and most students do better with some nervous energy to get their adrenaline pumping and their mind focused on the task at hand. read more

Leaving Questions Blank

Leaving Questions BlankBlanks do cost you points, but they buy you time. Or rather, blanks had better buy you time, or you're sacrificing points for no reason whatsoever. Unfortunately, all too many students leave a question blank after they've spent a lot of time trying to solve it. If you skip a question immediately, you save yourself a minute that you can use to solve other questions, and you may need the extra time. read more

Never Sacrifice Accuracy for Speed

Never Sacrifice Accuracy for SpeedIn other words, never rush. Never, ever, never, ever, never ever. Repeat after me: I will not rush on the SAT. Rushing is probably the root cause of most avoidable errors on the SAT. Students race through each section, doing work in their heads, grabbing at any answer that seems right, all in a mad dash to finish every problem. Paradoxically, rushing itself is caused by one of two opposite states of mind: overconfidence or lack of confidence. read more

Practice Alone Is Not Enough

Practice Alone Is Not EnoughOne of the contenders for the title "world's worst SAT advice" is the following sparkler: Just take the SAT without preparing, to see how you'll do. You can always retake the test later if you're not happy with your score. This advice is often said especially of the PSAT, because "it's just a practice test, it doesn't count, and colleges won't see your score." read more

SAT Questions Are Arranged in Order of Difficulty

SAT Questions Are Arranged in Order of DifficultyExcept for the reading questions, each type of question on the SAT is arranged in order of difficulty. The first third of any type of question are easy, the next third are medium, and the last third are difficult. The progression is gradual so that within, say, the hard questions, the difficulty goes from easy-hard to medium-hard to hard-hard. read more

SAT Testing Centers

To find the SAT testing center closest to you, call 609-771-7600. read more

SAT Tips

Is your child ready to take the SATs? Print out these strategic tips to help your child as he takes the test. Also, learn what your child can do to prepare himself in the weeks leading up to the test. Check out the College Board's website for exact testing dates. read more

Speed Versus Accuracy

Speed Versus AccuracyUnfortunately, You'll Probably Have to Leave Some Questions Blank Let me put that differently. Until you're absolutely sure that you've got a shot at a 750 to 800 on the reading, writing, or math test—only about 1 student in 20 does—you'd better leave some questions blank on that part of the SAT. Here's the basic problem everyone has to deal with on the SAT: limited time. The SAT has enough questions in a short enough period of time that most students can finish only by rushing. And rushing leads to mistakes. read more

Standardized Test Bias

Quiz yourself and then discover why many of the questions on standardized tests are unfair. Then read Dr. James Popham's book read more

Taking the SAT Again

How many times should your child take the SAT? Find out whether your teen should take the SAT again and learn the likelihood of his or her score improving. read more

Taking the SAT: Improvement Comes in Stages

Taking the SAT: Improvement Comes in StagesLike learning anything else, learning how to take the SAT in the optimal way is not something that improves consistently, a little bit each day. At the beginning, you may well experience some quick gains as you master some of the easier techniques. These easy gains, however, are often followed by stretches where your score seems to remain stuck at a certain level. Or maybe you start off practicing and your scores seem stuck in a rut despite your best efforts. Test after practice test your scores seem to go nowhere. read more

The High-School Math Challenge

Concerned about math tests? Take the challenge! Find out what your teen needs to know. read more