SAT Timing Rules
The "Anti-Bomb" Recipe you *MUST* memorize before your next SAT.
A Typical “Time-Bomb” Scenario:
You’re mid-SAT and the pressure is on. You get a hard question, so you have to focus. You start working through a solution and you’re thrilled because you finally get an answer. Then you look up and…10 minutes went by. 10 minutes for *ONE* question. You do the math and there’s 5 minutes left for the remaining 15 questions. F**k.
This is how you “Time-Bomb” an SAT. With so little time for the remaining questions, you’re bound to rush and miss even the easy ones. It’s pretty obvious if this happens on a Diagnostic Exam because there’s a telltale string of incorrect answers at the end of a section.
How do I defuse the “Time-Bomb”?
“Discipline. There must be Discipline.”- Jocko Willink
A highly disciplined and well practiced set of Timing Rules is the only way to Defuse the “Time-Bomb”. If you follow the rules listed below and practice them carefully before your SAT, you can rest assured that you’ll have enough time to finish.
Familiarize yourself with a Practice SAT before going through these rules.
SAT Timing Rules
1. Reading Section - 11 min/pass (15 min/dual)
The Reading section is timed by *PASSAGE* not by question. This means that the 11 minute time allocated per passage is a HARD CUTOFF.
Why? The questions on the Writing and Reading sections DO NOT get harder as you progress. This means there is NO advantage to spending additional time on earlier questions, or on any question if it means you won’t have time to read the rest.
When you hit 11 minutes you simply move on and fill in random answers for the questions you miss. The only exception to this is the Dual Passage (the one with 2 Passages in 1) for which you’ll allocate 15 minutes. If you finish early, move on early. You’ll be glad for the extra time that piles up at the end.
Order of Passages: Since you can read the passages in any order, you ought to prioritize the ones that you do the best on. That way you maximize points before you get fatigued.
There is a LOT to discuss about how you should organize your actions inside those 11 minutes, but that belongs in a separate post.
2. Writing Section - 8 min/pass
The Writing and Language section is also timed by passage and has a HARD 8 minute cutoff per passage. Much like the Reading section, the questions don’t get harder as you progress through the section so it’s worth it to ensure you give each passage a fair shake.
How you prioritize questions in the Writing section is a whole article in itself, but for now make sure you do the Short ones first, and leave the Long/Complicated questions for last.
3. Math Sections - 1 min/question - 5 sec/blank
Questions on the Math sections increase in difficulty as you progress, but not consistently. This means that even though the questions near the end are harder on average, they always sprinkle in a few easy ones at the end of each section for anyone who makes it that far. This means it is extremely important that you ATTEMPT ALL THE QUESTIONS, and there are two rules that will help is accomplish that.
1. The 1 Minute Rule:
On the 1st pass, you should spend AT MOST 1 min per question on the Math sections. This doesn’t mean every question can be finished in a minute, but if you write down your work, this rule will guarantee that you have time to come back at the end and wrap it up.
More importantly, it also guarantees that you will SEE every question on the exam. That way if there are some easy ones near the end, you’ll be able to bag those points and move on.
2. The 5 Second Rule
Have you ever looked at a Math question and been like…what? Everyone draws a Blank here and there, and if you do, you should spend EXACTLY 5 seconds thinking about it. If you can figure out a way to begin then do that, otherwise, fill in a random answer and bounce.
Count it off with me, 1-2-3-4-5 and Start Solving or MOVE ON!
Once you draw a blank, the odds that you’ll reinvent whatever math concept you’re missing are pretty low, no matter how smart you are. You’re better off cutting your losses so you can score on the questions you know well.
That’s all for now!
For more info or to begin your SAT prep journey don’t hesitate to contact us over at West Palm Test Prep!