Expert Tips on How to Prepare for SAT/ACT Tests, Part 4: The Tricks


test prep tutorThe following is part 4 of our 4-part series on SAT/ACT test prep. To read the entire article, click here, or download a PDF version here.

Part 4. Learn the tricks.

You’ll hear a bunch about tricks for the test, which are only partially useful. Tricks mean different things to different people so when you are looking for “tricks” to make you a better test taker you have to understand what a trick is and whether it will help you or not.

The most popular SAT/ACT “tricks:” 

  • Plugging in numbers to avoid doing algebra (this one is gold)
  • The word “being” is always wrong in grammar questions (this is diamond, while it’s valuable its rare)
  • Using the addition/subtraction method for simultaneous equations rather than substitution (this is in many math textbooks)
  • Eliminating answer choices that are “obvious” (this one is sketchy because if you can tell its a bad choice, can you not just find the good choice?)
  • Not reading all of a reading comprehension passage (this is great for the SAT not so much for the ACT).

You probably see where this list of tricks is going; it’s a combination of things that may or may not be real “tricks” but it’s important to remember that they are not magic.  They are soundly reasoned strategies that let you take advantage of the quirks and patterns of the test to either do work faster or make a good guess. If you learn the nuances of the test well it becomes predictable, laughable, and much more enjoyable.

I hope this helps you better understand what to do to prep for these tests. If not drop me a comment and I’ll clarify in later posts!

–>Continue to Part 3: The Content.
–>Review Part 2: Scoring