SAT, ACT, Post-Graduate & Professional Certification & Re-Certification Preparation and Tutoring in the Dallas Area

SAT Test Taking Techniques

  1. After one has reviewed the exercises on the tapes and in the booklet, there is very little one should do the night before the test.
  2. Get up an hour earlier than you normally would so you will be alert for the test.
  3. Go alone to the testing center. Sit alone. Do not allow your friends to distract you.
  4. Take an extra pair of glasses, if you wear glasses. Take contact lens fluid and cleaner, if you wear contact lenses.
  5. Bring a sweater along in case the testing center is cool.
  6. Bring several #2 pencils, you admissions ticket, and personal indentification.
  7. Eat a good breakfast.
  8. Take advantage of all of the breaks that you are allowed. Do not socialize with your friends during the breaks because friends have a tendency to disturb your concentration.
  9. If you find that you are getting tired, put your pencil down and rest for 10 to 30 seconds because no one can concentrate completely for 3 hours straight. If you find your attention wandering, taking a 10 to 30 second beak will help you stay alert.
  10. If the room is noisy, you are permitted to file a protest.
  11. If you become ill, or cannot finish the test, simply turn the test into your proctors and tell them what has happened. Do not take the test if you are ill, if you have another oppurtunity to take it. That will print out on your card is simply the words "not valid". Therefore, if you become ill, not finishing the test will not count against you.
  12. Remember that common sense and good judgement are the best qualities you can bring to the test. Panic is your mortal enemy.
  13. The scoring on the SAT is different from the scoring on a standard test given in school:
  14. The first thing to do when you receive you test is to read the directions. Doing so will allow you do do two things:
    • a. It will give you time to calm down.
    • b. Then it will also give you an opportunity to apportion your time.
    • Remember to answer what you know first
    • Do not linger over a question you do not know.
    • If you do not know a question, circle it on your test booklet, and go on to what you know best.
    • Do not forget to read all your answer choices.
    • Do not immediately decide that the first choice that looks good is the correct one.
    • By the time you finish working these exercises, you should know which types of questions you can do the most easily. Do those first. For example, if you find the multiple choice ones come easy to you, do those first.
    • If you have any time left over, return to the questions you could not do at first.
  15. Your answer sheet will be a grid, for which there are certain techniques.
    • In the first place, your answer sheet will be graded by a computer. Therefore, any extra or extraneous mark on the answer sheet might be picked up by the computer and counted is an incorrect answer.
    • Make certain that you put your answer in the right place. When you get tired, there is a distinct possibility that you may put your answers in the wrong column. Check to make sure that you have recorded the answer to a question on the corresponding answer blank.
  16. Remember to check your answers for errors. If you must erase an answer on the answer sheet, make your erasure first, then record your new answer. This way you will make sure that you do not have two answers on your answer sheet for the same questions and have that question counted as incorrect.
  17. Wholesale erasing generally is a bad idea because nine of ten times your first choice is the correct one.
  18. However, it is only human to make mistakes on a long standardized test, so you must expect to make some. Remember that it is virtually impossible to have a perfect Scholastic Aptitude Test score. The test is set up to cause students to make mistakes, and you must not hesitate out of fear of making a mistake.


Your verbal score is broken down into 2 parts: reading, which is made up of the reading comprehension and the sentence completion questions and vocabulary, which is made up of the antonyms and analogies.

There are several pitfalls for each of these types of questions.

  1. In the antonyms your inclination is to write the synonym instead of the antonym.
  2. In the reading comprehension:
    • Watch out for the little qualifying words that spoil an answer.
    • Remember that many answers are true. You must pick the one that most completely and accurately answers the questions.
  3. One of the greatest traps in the verbal section is to confuse words that look alike. Do not out of carelessness confuse words whose spelling or whose meaning are very close. For example, review most carefully the difference between words like credible, credulous, creditable, words which look similar and have meanings which are somewhat similar.
  4. Remember that the verbal portion depends on your knowledge of word usage and your ability to appreciate fine verbal gradations of thought and to understand word relationships. It is a measure of your verbal logic and of your reading comprehension.


  1. Do not be confused by reversal of numbers. Do not choose 31 when you mean 13.
  2. Do not choose 100 when you mean 1,000.
  3. Do not forget that the decimal point will be moved around in order to confuse you. Do not choose 2.76 instead of 27.6.
  4. If the answer is 13, do not choose answer choice 1, which is 30, and pick up the 1 and 3, thinking you have selected 13 as your answer.
  5. Save time by not working out those quantitative comparison questions which can be answered by insight.

Finally, remember that common sense and ability to work sensibly will maximize your score. In all parts of the test your mental stamina and intellectual energy, as well as your skills, are being evaluated. Use good judgement - do not panic - remember not to guess widly - be aware of the obvious pitfalls - and your skills will be accurately assessed.

ELISSA SOMMERFIELD is a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with an MA in English from SMU. She taught English at SMU and in the Dallas County Community College District. For under 30 years, she has conducted classes in SAT and ACT preparation as well as in graduate school exam instruction and study skills. Additionally, she has tutored extensively in most academic areas, the ISEE, the composition of school entrance essays, and editing books. She has served as an SAT and educational consultant for 29 Texas school districts and has authored four books on SATs plus, with Frances Bailey Wood, co-authored and revised one on how to study efficiently. An educational consultant, as well as graduate school, college, and boarding school counselor, she is a member of Independent Educational Consultants Association and Texas Association for College Admissions Counselors. Sommerfield actively maintains her Certified Educational Planner designation and at UT was a Phi Beta Kappa in her junior year.