SAT/ACT Strategy and Method

The following collapsible outline of broad strategies and test-specific tactics delineates the methods my students use to dispatch any question the SAT or ACT might present. Please click on triangular bullets (‣) to expand details and reveal links.

How to Take the SAT and/or ACT - A Comprehensive Method

I. Universal Strategies Based on SAT/ACT Realities
A. Know your test well. Every SAT or ACT is exactingly standardized.
• In nearly every aspect of their respective design and content, the SAT and ACT are highly standardized to test specific content and skills in a particular style and format, according to the test authors' detailed mandate. This means that despite superficial variations amongst test "forms" (tests of the same type administered on different test dates), there is far more that we can confidently predict and recognize on any ACT or SAT if we have carefully studied either test.
• We should be acutely aware of the test's anatomy: the number of questions, passages, and minutes allotted to each test section, the order in which sections are presented, and any predictable sequences or trends within each section. But equally importantly, we should be intimately familiar with our test's style of questions and tasks and the predictable strategies the test authors use in constructing right and wrong answer choices.
B. Pace yourself to earn maximum points within the allotted time. One question, one point, limited time.
C. Make each practice test a faithful test simulation. The real test is strictly proctored in an institutional environment.
• Each practice test or section should be an effort to simulate real test conditions to the extent possible, including strict timing, use of the grid sheets, and access to all of the tools (pencils, erasers, calculator, batteries, timepiece) you’ll need on test day itself.
Click for detailed test simulation guidelines, including sample proctor scripts.
D. Seek the justification test authors would use. Correct answers are justified specifically and rigorously.
E. Carefully read and if needed reread every line, never rushing. The devil is in the details of every component of the SAT and ACT.
II. Section-by-Section SAT/ACT Reading, Math, Editing, and Science Tactics
A. Reading Passage Tactics - A rigorous method for reading SAT and ACT passages
B. Reading Question & Answer Tactics - A methodical approach and tailored techniques to correctly answer SAT/ACT reading questions
C. Math - Key math tactics for the SAT and ACT math tests and beyond
D. Editing (SAT Writing/ACT English)
E. ACT Science/SAT Graphics