Common misconceptions about the test—and tips for how students can best prepare for the SAT!
MYTH: The SAT tests a student’s intelligence and scores are a reliable predictor of college academic performance.
FACT: SAT scores reflect a student’s skill at taking the SAT (and their prep time), but studies are mixed on scores as a prediction of college success. Regardless, standardized test scores remain a key component of college applications, so it’s important for college-bound students to do well, and choose a test date that leaves them time to prep.*
MYTH: Advanced math concepts are tested on the SAT.
FACT: The math section on the SAT includes a lot of algebra, some arithmetic, statistics, and geometry (only 6 geometry questions at most). That’s it! Math concepts that students do NOT need for the SAT include: calculus, logarithms, matrices, and geometric proofs.
MYTH: A student’s SAT reading score is what it is.
FACT: The SAT Reading Test comprises 50% of a test-taker’s SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing (EBRW) score. While it is essentially a test of reading comprehension skills, there are a lot of strategies students can use to increase their scores: getting familiar with the test format and types of reading passages; expanding vocabulary, including multiple meanings of words; and by honing critical reading skills. The SAT Reading Test measures a student’s understanding of words in context and their ability to understand subtext.
MYTH: If unsure of the answer, students should leave it blank rather than guess and risk an incorrect answer choice.
FACT: The “guessing penalty” disappeared when the College Board redesigned the SAT in 2016. Test-takers receive 1 point for every correct answer; 0 points for every question unanswered; and 0 points for every incorrect answer. If a student can identify even one wrong answer choice, they’ve increased the odds of guessing correctly. Because there is no longer a guessing penalty, no answer should be left blank.
*The Princeton Review SAT/ACT Essentials can be found at no cost in all tutor.com library accounts as well as Coast Guard families using tutor.com/military. For more information on test prep support, visit www.princetonreview.com.