The guessing penalty on the SAT lowers your total points by 1/4 point for each wrong answer. The questions are designed so that statistically more students will get the hard ones wrong. So how do we know which are easy, medium or hard?
The answer is simple for some sections, and more complicated for others. (It would be helpful to have a practice test in front of you as you read this, by the way.) Starting with the math section, one can simply skip the last questions of the section to avoid the hard questions. Remember, those complicated, time-consuming questions are worth the same point value as the easy, faster one. So if you have 20 questions, and you are not aiming for a 700-800 on the section, you can skip the last two questions entirely.
On math sections with grid-ins, there are two things to know:
1- the multi-choice questions have their own order of difficulty, just like the other math section, and then the grid-ins start over with easy to medium to hard
2-in general, the grid-ins tend to be less complicated- so don't be intimidated!
The shortest Writing multiple-choice section - the one with only one type of question- also has a simple order from easiest to hardest. However, the writing sections with a variety of grammar/improving writing types of questions are not in order as a section as a whole, but just the sentence corrections are. (These questions offer a sentence and one has to decide if it needs a correction.)
The Critical Reading section, with its varieties of questions, also has a more complicated order of difficulty. The Sentence Completions have their own order, so if this is not your strong point, skip the last one or two. Then the passage questions are not in an order of difficulty, but it's worth it to know that some are trickier than others. For example, the single paragraph passages are short- but often have harder questions. The same goes for the dual passage questions; if these are difficult, at least answer the questions that pertain to just one passage. And as always, "except" questions take longer since one usually has to rule out all the true answers first.
As I mentioned in my description of the math section, skipping questions is a good idea for those who are not aiming for a 700-800 on a section. Need to practice ASAP? Try the test offered online on the college board website; it's administered and graded for free.
The next three SATs will be on November 3rd, December 1st, and January 26th.
Tanya Panossian-Lesser, email@example.com, www.ridgewood-tutor.com