Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Beating the Clock

Anyone who has taken the SAT knows that it tests your college readiness and critical thinking abilities through math, reading and writing. However, what you may not realize is that, even though it never shows up as a quantified score on the test, the SAT also tests your abilities to prioritize and manage your time. This part of the test, reflected to a degree in your overall score, is just as important as knowing the material for the test.

Should I start off the math section by answering the hard questions at the end, or the easy ones at beginning? Is it more important to put down an answer for all the questions, or should I work more on being right? Do I really only have 1 minute and 15 seconds for each math question? You may ask yourself these questions going into the exam, and even while you are in there, but the important thing to remember is that accuracy will always pay off on this test more than speed.

If you answer every question, but you answer half of them wrong, you only end up hurting yourself on this test. If you waste too much time on the four hard questions in the section and never get to the easy ones, then the questions you have answered have cost more than they have helped. While they may seem insignificant at the time, your overall score will come to reflect these split-second decisions just as much as your knowledge and skills.

Working against the clock in this way offers colleges a snapshot of your ability to prioritize between answering more questions and answering more right. It assesses your capacity to realize you’ve invested too much time on a question and must write it off as a sunk cost. While being able to prioritize on the test may not offer the most accurate picture of your ability to manage your time over a whole semester, these sorts of micro-decisions that you face nonetheless play a big part in your overall success as a student.

To conclude, you must always keep it in your mind that the SAT is as much about managing the short amount of time that you have to ensure the best chance of correctly answering as many questions as possible. It sounds impossible, but it’s all a matter of pacing yourself and realizing when you have spent too much time on a single question for it to help your score any further. While this part of the exam never shows up as a quantified score, it nonetheless plays a major part in the overall score you receive on any given test, so you must tackle it head-on like any other section of the test.

And remember to always do the math on the test, not on the clock.


Toni Whalen

SAT/ACT Instructor


No comments:

Post a Comment