SAT Hacks: Expert Tips To Help You Ace The SAT

student answering the SAT test
August 28, 2023
7 min read


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 5/31/22

The SAT may be a challenging test, but there are numerous approaches to help you achieve a high score. Read on to learn more about SAT test hacks! 

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is an essential component of your application to any undergraduate program. Admissions committees at universities will typically accept scores for either the SAT or the American College Test (ACT) that demonstrate an applicant's college readiness. 

The SAT is a crucial part of your application that shows your academic aptitude, and high scores can help you claim your rightful seat at the university of your choice. In this comprehensive guide, you will learn about SAT hacks and tips to help you ace the test with no sweat. 

11 SAT Hacks to Help You Ace the SAT  

The SAT is a long and challenging test. You must prepare for it to perform well and achieve a high score. Although you want to spend a lot of time studying and preparing before test day, here are some tips that can make you more comfortable and confident. 

SAT Hacks

General SAT Hacks 

Although section-specific tricks and tips can help you boost your SAT score, there are some general things you can do to make yourself more comfortable and perform better. 

Listed here are some general SAT tips and tricks that will ensure test day runs smoothly. 

1. Budget Your Time 

The SAT is a timed test, and you need to answer a section’s questions within the allotted time. The fact that you're being timed can be anxiety-inducing to some people, but there are a few ways to make the most out of the time you have. 

First, be sure to read the directions before the test to know what’s expected of you in every section. Reading the directions helps you in two ways: one, you know exactly what’s coming and what you’re supposed to do, and two, you’re not wasting precious time by mulling over directions instead of reading and responding to questions. 

2. Start With the Easier Questions

You must also consider the volume of questions you’re expected to answer within a given time limit. If you find yourself agonizing over one question you’re stuck on for more than a few minutes, it’s probably in your best interest to move along and come back later. 

Build your confidence by knocking out a few straightforward questions in a shorter amount of time before tackling the more complex ones. Try our SAT quiz below to see if you can answer exam-style questions correctly!

3. Don’t Leave Anything Blank 

Unlike the past version of the SAT, you will not be penalized for guessing an answer. Now that you don’t have to worry about losing points for an educated guess that turns out wrong, you can relax and take your best shot without concerns about losing points for nothing. 

Remember that it’s always better to take a stab at a question—a blank answer is always a wrong answer. 

Evidence-Based Reading Section SAT Hacks

The reading section tests your reading comprehension abilities and picking out which pieces of evidence make sense for the question and your command of finding and understanding the main idea of a text. 

Here are some SAT exam tips sure to help you perform well. 

1. Figure Out Your Ideal Strategy Before the Test 

Strategy means the way that you go about answering each question. Some people prefer to read the entire passage before they look at the questions, while others may like to peek at the questions first before delving into the reading. 

Whatever way you want to answer questions is fine, but be sure to figure out which method works for you ahead of time. This SAT exam tip can save you a lot of time and stress!

2. Mark Up the Passages 

Don’t be afraid to use your pencil to circle, underline, or do whatever you need to do to make sure important information jumps out at you later. Be sure to mark up the main idea or anything you deem essential, like crucial evidence. 

Marking up your paper means you spend less time scanning the passage for answers later. This SAT Reading hack can help you get the right answers quicker. 

3. Read the Pre-Passage Description

Pre-passage descriptions often provide information about the author, the time period of the writing, and its origin. While this may not seem helpful at first, the pre-passage description can give you context for the passage and an insight into the author’s purpose for writing it. 

Evidence-Based Writing SAT Hacks 

The SAT writing section gives you passages that may have grammatical errors or poor style choices and asks you to choose an answer that would improve that passage. 

These hacks for SAT Writing can help you answer questions quicker.   

1. The Concise Answer Is Often the Right Answer 

The shorter answers are typically the correct answers because better writing doesn’t necessarily mean more words but straightforward content. Longer answers may contain redundant information or look more “complex and sophisticated,” but this can be a diversion to trip you up. 

Examine all the choices, but know that the short answers may be your best bet. 

2. Memorize Grammar Rules  

Unfortunately, there’s not very much you can do to hack your way through the writing section. Try looking for concise answers and finding the wrong answers first by the process of elimination. 

Studying grammar rules is your best bet for a high score. Study proper constructions and punctuation like subject-verb agreement, where to use a semi-colon, and other English language mechanics to feel confident and tackle the writing questions. 

Math SAT Hacks 

The math section of the SAT will test your command of mathematics in three areas: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving & Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math. 

Below you will find more information on how to perform well in the SAT’s math section. 

1. Mark Up the Problems 

Like the reading section, you should try to underline or circle any relevant information in the questions you see. This can help you understand what you’re looking for in an answer and help you identify the critical information you need to get there. 

2. Memorize Formulas 

While it may not feel like much of an SAT Math hack, a little bit of memorization can go a long way. Although you receive a reference sheet, some formulas may be missing that you need to answer questions. Make sure you’re familiar with these formulas and have them ready to plug numbers into if you need them. 

3. If You’re Stuck, Plug in the Multiple-Choice Answers

Unfortunately, this SAT tip eats up your precious time, but maybe it's worth it if you’re handling the last questions that you didn’t understand. This method means that you work through your equation backward and see if the answer you plug in makes sense for the given numbers and can help you ascertain the correct answer. 

SAT Hacks FAQs 

If you still have questions about SAT test hacks, these FAQs can provide more clarity. 

1. Can These SAT Hacks Replace Studying? 

The purpose of these SAT exam tips is to help you navigate the real test after adequate study time. Even with these SAT tips, you’ll still need to follow a consistent study schedule and complete as many practice questions as possible. 

2. How Can SAT Reading Hacks Help Me? 

Using SAT Reading hacks can help you know what works for you before test day, can you help you find crucial information faster, and can help you gain a better understanding of the content you’re working with. Saving time is key on the SAT!

3. How Can SAT Math Hacks Help Me? 

Using SAT Math hacks can help you spend less time determining which information given in questions is important and even have a foolproof way to check your work or get the correct answer (even if it’s time-consuming). 

4. How Can SAT Writing Hacks Help Me? 

SAT Writing tips can help you find the potential correct answer quickly and ensure you don’t spend too much time stuck on your grammar rules. 

5. What’s the Best SAT Tip? 

The best SAT hack depends on your improvement areas, but the best general advice for the SAT is to use the process of elimination, budget your time, and don’t get stuck for too long on challenging questions. 

Hack the SAT to Unlock Your Dream School

The SAT is a challenging test, and it’s in your best interest to come prepared and confident on test day. Your SAT scores are an essential part of your college applications that show the admissions committee you can handle a college curriculum's workload and intellectual demands. 

With the SAT hacks outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can be sure that you have the tools and know-how to perform well on test day by budgeting your time and answering questions strategically. If you put the required effort into your SAT studies, you’re sure to meet your target score. 

Take on 5 free practice SAT questions here

Take on 5 free practice SAT questions here


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