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)

I See Patterns in SAT Test Answers

Karl Schellscheidt

eprep test prep videoStudents often get into trouble when they begin to spot patterns in their SAT answer choices (e.g. A-A-A-D-D-D) and allow those patterns to impact their subsequent answers. Reacting to patterns on the SAT is pure folly.

Here’s a little math problem you would do well remembering when going into the SAT test. Assume you are flipping a coin where the odds of coming up heads is 1 out of 2 and the odds of coming up tails is 1 out of 2. You flip the coin and, remarkably, it comes up heads 5 times in a row. If you were placing a small wager on the sixth toss, would you assume the odds of coming up heads is 1 out of 64 (i.e., 1/2 to the sixth power) or the same 50% as the first toss? The obvious answer is 50%, but it sure feels like it should be 1 out of 64. If you were betting at the outset of the coin toss, the odds of getting six heads in a row would be 1 out of 64, but before each toss it’s 1 out of 2. The same logic applies to SAT answer choices. Even though you’ve answered “E” 5 times in a row, don’t assume “E” is a remote answer choice on the next question. Rather, it holds the same 1 out 5 chance as every multiple choice question on the test.

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