Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
    (1964-1969)
  • Stanford University
    (1969-1984)
  • Princeton University
    (1988-2003)

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    (1966-1977)
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    (1977-1987)
    International Office Director
    (1987-2002)

When to Guess on the SAT Critical Reading Section

Karl Schellscheidt

eprep test prep video
I’d like to briefly share my thoughts with you on guessing in the critical reading section. The critical reading section has two different parts: The first part is sentence completion; there are blanks in the sentence and you need to fill it in with the answer choice. Each answer choice will have a word or a couple of words if there are two blanks; you need to understand the context of the sentence. You then need to pick the words that fill in the sentence properly from the SAT vocabulary list.

Guessing In the Critical Reading Section (transcript)

I’d like to briefly share my thoughts with you on guessing in the critical reading section. The critical reading section has two different parts: The first part is sentence completion; there are blanks in the sentence and you need to fill it in with the answer choice. Each answer choice will have a word, or a couple of words if there are two blanks; you need to understand the context of the sentence. You then need to pick the words that fill in the sentence properly.

If you have a really strong vocabulary, chances are you are going to breeze through the section. Even if you have a strong vocabulary you may get to a question where there are a bunch of words that you’ve never seen before. Do not panic if you are in that situation; there is a way to back your way into the answer. First of all understand the context of the sentence then look at your answer choices. If there are some answer choices that you know the definitions of and you know what the words mean; they don’t work in the sentence. Obviously eliminate those as answers and guess from what is left. If you can eliminate one or more answers that are definitely wrong just guess and move on.

I have met a lot of kids over the years that would skip the reading and go right to the questions and this was their technique. They would be very careful about reading the question; the questions on a lot of those problems are very tricky. Read the question a couple of times to really understand what the problem is about and then when you go through the answer choices a few of the answers are going to eliminate themselves. They are not going to be truly related to the question. Be very careful and understand the question because you are not going to get the answer right if you do not understand. Spend some time understanding the question; look through the answer choices and I guarantee some of them will eliminate themselves. If you are stuck between a tough call, go back to the text and read it to see if you can narrow it down. You are going to get stuck on a couple of problems between two that seem to work. When you find yourself in that situation do not be surprised. There a lot of questions that have two answers that work on a certain level and the College Board will consider one answer better than the other.

No matter which way you decide; you are going to be in good company. It is going to be a tough decision for a lot of other smart kids that are taking the test. Some will choose one answer and the other half will choose the other answer. Remember that there is wiggle room in the critical reading section. What that means is you do not need to get every single one right in order to get an 800 or a really good score. Remember there will be tough decisions. If you can eliminate a couple of answers choices that you know do not work; guess and move on and hopefully that will help you maximize your score.

Karl Schellscheidt

ePrep, Inc.

http://blog.eprep.com

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