Taking the SAT in Lafayette can certainly be a pressure cooker indeed. While you want to get as many correct answers as possible, on the other hand, you don’t want to waste a lot of time. Every second is precious when taking the exam. For instance, 15 minutes are enough to answer 15 questions. If you waste seconds by getting stuck on a particular question and try to figure out the right answer to it, you are likely to lose as much as 150 points at the end of the exam!

In the redesigned SAT, the total testing time is three hours (compared to three hours and 45 minutes in the old SAT). The sections in the revised SAT consist of:

  • Evidence-based Reading and Writing
    • Reading: 52 questions, 65 minutes
    • Writing and Language: 44 questions, 35 minutes
  • Math
    • Calculator: 38 questions, 55 minutes
    • No calculator: 20 questions, 25 minutes
  • Essay (optional): 50 minutes

Students may feel a bit relieved because the redesigned SAT does not give penalties if you give the wrong answers (unlike in the old SAT), and the essay is now only optional. Whether or not you want to take the Essay is up to you to decide. If you are committed to take the Essay portion, do some research on colleges and universities that require applicants to take the Essay for the admission process. But if you’re going to ask us, practicing your essay-writing skills for this particular portion is highly recommended.

Anyway, again, the new SAT doesn’t penalize wrong answers. But it doesn’t mean that you should take the test more lightly now. You still want to get as many correct answers as possible. Given the allocated time for each section and sub-section, you should learn how to work on the test at a decent speed — it’s not always good to rush in answering the test, but it’s not also good to linger on one question, either. Just keep yourself moving!

  1. It is still important to read the directions for each section — but do this before the test. You don’t want to spend the time you have doing this instead of working on the exam itself as it will waste precious seconds.
  2. Use your test booklet to eliminate the answers which you think are wrong. You can also use this as a scratch book if it is needed.
  3. Answer the questions that you know. If you think you misinterpreted a question, mark it (using your test booklet) and then quickly move on to the next. You may go back to it later if you’ve still got time.
  4. If you can eliminate the wrong answer choices, do it so. Sometimes, identifying and eliminating the incorrect answers is much easier than figuring out for the correct answer.
  5. Usually, your first answer will be the correct answer. Don’t change it unless you are absolutely certain you have made a mistake.
  6. While it’s understandable that you’re under a time limit to answer the questions on the test, it is still important to be neat in answering the questions. Don’t be sloppy and make accidental pencil marks, since the machine that does the scoring on your test cannot differentiate between the right answers and stray marks.
  7. While you still have a lot of time left, go back to the questions that you have skipped the first time around. If you are still stumped, you may leave the question again or better, make a guess — as implied before, the redesigned SAT in Lafayette does not penalize wrong answers, so it’s absolutely fine to make a guess!