Three Things to NEVER Do On The SAT

Three Things to NEVER Do On The SAT



SAT advice is usually about what to do—the books to use, the strategies to follow,

and the best way to get out of a scoring plateau. But there are some things you want

to make sure you never do, both when prepping for the SAT and when taking the

actual SAT.

1. Circle the answers in your book

This one may confuse you, but think about it—you are so engrossed

in the test that you are a lot more likely to make careless mistakes. Like

skipping a number as you bubble in answers. That’s right! I’ve seen many

a student flub up transferring the answers they have circled in the booklet

to the bubble in sheet. Bubble in your first time around so you don’t get off

2. Think that vocab is not worth your time



Vocab? Nope! *most students’ reaction* (<– don’t be that student)

The Critical Reading section is, for many, the most difficult of the three

sections on the SAT. The main reason for this is often vocabulary. Most

students simply haven’t learned definitions to words like ephemeral and

eclectic. And many figure, what’s the point—I’ll never learn these words.

But don’t have that attitude. By just studying the 200 most common SAT

vocabulary (eclectic and ephemeral are amongst them), you can give yourself

a chance of getting at least a few more questions right on the Critical Reading

section. Since many of these words appear in the reading passages and in the

answer choices following the reading passages, you can easily get a 50-point

score bump, knowing that eclectic means coming from a variety of sources,

and ephemeral means not lasting for long.

3. Go back to a section

Nowhere do the proverbial angel and devil battle it out than in those

moments between sections, when you are thinking back to the question

from a previous section. Suddenly a light bulb flashes on and you know the

answer. And that’s when the devil may tempt you to go back and change your

But let me be the angel on your shoulder—or at least the voice of reason. For

that one question, you are sacrificing your entire college career. If the proctor

catches you, then…ahem, you might want to ask if the local pizza joint is

hiring. And all that for one measly question that you have may have gotten

right in the first place.

Bonus Point: All of the above holds true for the PSAT. So don’t think the tests

are different. When it comes down to the PSAT vs. SAT, you should treat the

tests the same: bubble-in a question at a time, study your vocabulary, and

don’t go back to a previous section.


This post was written by Chris Lele, resident SAT expert at Magoosh. For more advice

on SAT prep, check out Magoosh’s SAT blog.