One of the most frequent questions an SAT Test Prep Professional is asked:
How do I know if I should guess or skip a question that I am unsure of?
While there is no steadfast rule on whether you should guess or skip, there are a few tips on how to determine whether it is worth it to guess or if it is more beneficial to skip.
Quick Tip: you don’t lose points when you skip a problem but you do give up the possibility of earning points toward your overall score if you were to guess correctly.
Steps to determine whether you should guess on an SAT question or skip it:
1. Approach each question as though you do not have the opportunity to skip it; analyze each question and try your best to eliminate as many choices as possible before you even consider skipping it. Even if it is a question that covers a topic that you are not familiar with, attempt to solve the problem as if you had no other choice but to take an educated guess on the answer.
2. Now that you are attempting every problem with sincere determination, you can move on to analyzing your probability of getting the question correct. Without getting distracted by statistical analysis, let’s just say that every time you cross out a choice that you are confident is incorrect, you increase your chances of getting the question correct. Therefore, if you are able to eliminate two choices, you should guess and if you are able to eliminate three choices you should not skip; at this point your chances of answering the question correctly are 50%. In this case it is definitely beneficial to guess. On the other hand, if you are not able to eliminate any choices or can only eliminate one choice, it is most likely a good choice to skip it; in this case you only have 20 – 25% chance of answering it correctly.
3. When you are finished with a section go back and look over the ones that you skipped. In many cases, once a student completes a section and reviews previously skipped questions they will turn up questions where they can eliminate more choices and guess on the correct answer.
4. Students are STRONGLY discouraged from using the “Christmas tree method”, where students just fill in the bubbles to make a nice pattern! Scores are negatively impacted by random guessing! If you are stuck on a number of problems, remain calm and do your best to eliminate even one incorrect choice. As I mentioned previously, every time you cross out an incorrect answer you increase your chances of picking the correct answer.
There are SAT test taking strategies every student must know. It is recommended that students review the College Board's Official Study Guide and consider taking an SAT Test Prep Course similar to TutaPoint's One-Day SAT Test Prep.