Improve your SAT score by 100 points in 100 minutes.

Your SAT is coming up soon, but you feel lost. There’s always more than one answer choice that looks correct, and you always seem to pick the wrong one.

However, the problem is simple. Take a look at this example I use to demonstrate the main problem that most students have.

What does the author mean when he says “the dog is wagging its tail.”?

A) The dog is always wagging its tail.

B) The dog is happy.

C) Tail wagging is common in dogs.

D) The animal is moving its body

The answer may seem obvious to some of you, but unless you can explain exactly why each answer is wrong or right, you are just guessing. In order to maximize your score, you must learn to identify the specific differences between right and wrong answers. Unfortunately, this is not explained properly in any text book or by any other tutor that I have ever seen.  

Don’t panic – help is here! The secret of the SAT is that, for each section, you can answer most questions correctly with a few techniques. With my tips, you’ll be able to boost your score by at least 100 points in 100 minutes.

Before you get started, remember the following:

  1. Apply these skills on real practice tests immediately. Go to the College Board website and download some of the free practice tests. You need to reinforce the skills with practice in order to get consistent results.

  2. Watch my video lessons to learn the other skills you need if you are seeking gains greater than 100 points.

Reading

The College Board tries to trick you by putting in answers that “sound right” because they repeat keywords from the text, or “make sense” because they seem logical. However, the only correct answer is the one that says the same thing as the text.

Let’s return to the example from above to see this principle in action.

What does the author mean when he says “the dog is wagging its tail.”?

A) The dog is always wagging its tail.

B) The dog is happy.

C) Tail wagging is common in dogs.

D) The animal is moving its body

Let’s break it down.

A) The dog is always wagging its tail.

This answer “sounds right.” It contains all the same words as the text from the question. However, it’s not saying the same thing.  Where in the text did it mention the dog is “always” wagging its tail?  If it doesn’t say it in the text, don’t pick it.

B) The dog is happy.

This answer “makes sense.” Dogs usually wag their tails when they are happy. But, it could also be out of nervousness or some other reason.  The text never stated that the dog is happy. If it doesn’t say it in the text, don’t pick it.

C) Tail wagging is common in dogs.

This answer “sounds right” – it contains lots of the same words as the text. It also “makes sense” – tail wagging IS common in dogs. But yet again, it never said it is “common” in the text. If it doesn’t say it, don’t pick it.

D) The animal is moving its body.

This is the correct answer. It says the same thing as the text, but in a different way.  It’s impossible for the answer to be anything else because this statement is 100% true regardless of the other answers.  

So how can you learn to pick the right answer? The key is to read out everything quietly to yourself. This forces you to read every word in the question, the answer choices, and the line references. Don’t fall for the College Board’s tricks. Never pick an answer that mentions something specific that isn’t mentioned in the text.

 

BONUS: Watch the video below to see this principle applied to real questions from the SAT.

 

 

Check out my reading lessons to learn how to ace the rest of the Reading section. 

Writing & Language

Over half the Writing & Language section is about connecting meaning -- either connecting the question to the answer choices or the sentences to each other. It may sound too good to be true, but it really is that simple. Just pick the answer that has a clear link to the question and surrounding text.  As in the Reading section, don’t pick anything just because it “makes sense.”

Here’s an example.

Which answer choice should come after the sentence below?

Pizza causes many health problems in children.

A) Pizza should not be served in school cafeterias.

B) The price of pizza is soaring across the country

C) Children’s health is an important issue that must be addressed.

D) One of those problems is obesity.

Remember, you need to find the answer choice that directly connects to the question. The answer has to be about pizza causing many health problems in children.

 

A) Pizza should not be served in school cafeterias.

 

This answer “makes sense.” It’s logical to restrict pizza in schools if it causes health problems in children! But there’s no direct connection between this sentence and the previous one.

B) The price of pizza is soaring across the country.

Okay, I admit this one is stupid wrong. But there’s usually one answer choice that is crazy.

C) Children’s health is an important issue that must be addressed.

Another answer that “makes sense,” but has no direct connection to the prior sentence.

D) One of those problems is obesity.

Perfect! Not only do “those problems” refer back to the health problems, but this choice even specifies one of the problems. This is what I mean by a direct connection.

 

BONUS: Watch the video below to learn how to approach one of my all-time favorite types of question in the writing section.  If you watch this video, you’ll be able to answer a few questions in the test without even reading the passage!

 

 

Check out my writing lessons to learn about the other types of connected meaning questions as well as the key grammar principles you need to ace the Writing & Language section.

Math

The Math section tests you on things you have probably already learned in school, but it’s not that easy to get a perfect score even if you are a straight-A student. That’s due to a combination of carelessness and questions that test your understanding of math to the limit. Rather than performing straightforward calculations, you must have mastery of the fundamental concepts.

The good news is that both types of errors can be resolved with the same process. I call my technique the LEE method: List, Experiment, and Explain.

  1. List all the given information in mathematical terms. Be methodical and neatly write down every piece of information given in the question. Not only do some students get stuck on problems because they miss important information, but listing all given information is crucial for the next step.

  2. Experiment with the given information you listed in the previous step.  For tough questions, it’s important to experiment with the data in different ways to find the right angle of attack. Try substituting equations, plugging in numbers, and rewriting equations. You never know what the solution is going to require, but by practicing this method, you will be learning the skills to answer any question.

  3. Explain each step in your calculation once you have figured out a method that you think will work.  Do NOT do the calculations in your head. The math section comes at the end, so you will be mentally tired. Even with a 95% accuracy rate, you will make 2 or 3 mistakes. Avoid making any mistakes by documenting every single step.

Consistently practice this with every math question and watch your errors melt away.

 

If you aren’t confident in your math skills, I recommend taking the Khan Academy courses to learn the basics. Once you know the core math concepts, you can work on your problem solving technique.