Advice from an ACT/SAT Guru: Time to Time Yourself

Check out this helpful tip from Director of Staff & Curriculum Development and super star ACT/SAT tutor John Oh.

Sometimes, following a strict timetable on the ACT or the SAT Reading Test yields a higher score. Why? On the last passage of the test, some students use what time they have left to read the passage only to find themselves without enough or any time to answer the questions. Instead, read most of the passage and answer some/most of the questions.

For example: For a student who wants to address all four of the passages on ACT Reading, he or she has only 8 minutes and 45 seconds per passage and set of ten questions. But if a student spends 4 minutes and 30 seconds reading the passage, 4 minutes and 15 seconds is generally not enough time to answer the set of 10 questions. So, a student spends more time than the allotted four-fifteen but ends up with very little time for the last passage of the test.

Instead, spend no more than 3.5 minutes to read the passage and use the remaining 5 minutes and 15 seconds to answer the questions. Furthermore, at 8 minutes and 45 seconds, it’s time to move on the next passage. Take your best guesses on the remaining questions!

What about the portion of the passage that I don’t read? Keep these points in mind:

  1. No question may actually address that portion.
  2. If a question does address that portion and gives a line/paragraph reference, then obviously read that reference to answer the question.
  3. If a question does address that portion but does not give a line/paragraph reference, then there are two options.
    – Leave that question for last; you may stumble upon the answer in your effort to answer a different question.
    – Does the question refer to something completely unfamiliar, i.e., something that you do not recall reading about? If so, it’s most likely in the portion that you did not read. So, now read it.
NOTE: Both the ACT and SAT have strict rules about the types of timing devices students can use during the test- be sure to check which devices are permissible.