Though many students feel pressed on the SAT Math, most of these students don’t need extra time – they’ve simply neglected to employ any kind of pacing strategy. Setting a proper pace is critical to achieving one’s best score on the SAT Math.
On Section 3 of the New SAT (The Non-Calculator Section), a student will only have an average of 1 minute and 15 seconds per question. On Section 4 (The Calculator Section), 1 minute and 30 seconds. This means that if a student is trying to answer everything, taking 2 minutes is taking TOO LONG!
Further complicating matters is the fact that question difficulty resets when the math questions switch over from multiple choice to Student Produced Response. Many students find themselves taking far too much time answering the last few difficult multiple choice questions, only to discover they don’t have enough time to answer the easier Student Produced Responses!
To make things easier, a student should begin by determining whether or not they want to give every question a fair shake. Consider the following points:
– If they are aiming for a score above 700, they need to attempt almost every single question, which means they shouldn’t take any longer than a minute on any given question, at least the first time through a section. By holding themselves to a single minute, they should build up a decent bank of time with which they can come back to questions that stumped them the first time around.
– If they are aiming for a score below 700, they have some freedom to pick and choose where they wish to focus their efforts. The hardest questions (the last two or three multiple choice and Student Produced Response questions on each section) can be guessed on, giving the student more time to answer easy and medium questions. Still, a student should aim to spend no more than 1 minute and 30 seconds per question the first time around. Even given the extra time per question, a student must still be aiming to build a time bank with which to return to stickier questions.
– Timed practice is absolutely essential to developing a proper pacing strategy. Holding to a strict time limit per question does not come naturally to most students! A student who devises a pacing strategy tailored to their needs must put it into practice repeatedly. Buy some books, determine goals, plan a strategy, and THEN do strictly timed practice sections. When time is up, drop the pencil! No question should ever be left blank on the new SAT, but if something was left unanswered, it should stand out as a sharp reminder to avoid doing so next time!
It bears repeating: PACING STRATEGY MUST BE PRACTICED! While the above advice may seem relatively simple, internalizing it takes much more time. It can take several months of practice to bring a student up to speed for test day! There’s no time like the present; get started now!