Is It Okay to Guess on the SAT?
It’s a common question – Is it really okay to guess on the SAT? The good news is the SAT test is about reasoning and logic, not memorization and regurgitation. It contains many strategic questions that you can answer regardless of your academic background, although knowledge of certain concepts and skills is essential.
One part of your strategic approach should definitely be guessing. Yes, you read that right – guessing is okay. In fact, you should never leave a question blank. The old SAT penalized students 1/4 point for each wrong answer, in order to discourage random guessing. However, the redesigned SAT has removed this penalty, making it always in your best interest to guess where you truly have no idea what the answer is. Moreover, the number of multiple-choice answer options has decreased from five to four. Not only does this improve your chances of guessing correctly if you don’t know an answer (25% instead of 20%); it means you won’t have to spend as much time reviewing each option.
When guessing, do not do it impulsively. Instead, use the following tips to wisely guide your guess.
- Eliminate Answers That Are Obviously Wrong
- Whittle down your choices by eliminating answers that are clearly wrong, such as ones that contain punctuation or grammatical errors.
- Listen to Logic
- Use logic to increase the odds of making a reasonable elimination. As an example, you don’t have to know what a word means, but knowing that it’s negative and that the question or context for the answer is positive means it’s reasonable to rule out that word as the answer.
- Go Random Strategy
- Students will often eliminate two answers, and then when faced with the two remaining answers, pick the one that “feels right” or the one that “sounds good.” You may think you’re making an “educated guess,” but the reality is that you’re falling for a trap answer, which the College Board has included precisely because it sounds vaguely right. If you can’t find a reason to pick one answer over another, go random. Gut feelings are not enough. You actually have a better chance of getting a question right by randomly picking “A” every time (or your favorite letter), versus picking an answer that “feels good.” On the other hand, if an answer “makes sense” logically then, by all means, pick it!
Remember, taking an educated guess is a solid strategy. If the answer isn’t staring you directly in the face, take a moment and run through the tips above. With those tips, you can try your luck without the stress of deducted points. So if you’re stuck, remind yourself – Yes, it’s okay to guess!