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Avoid These Common SAT Mistakes

When taking the SAT, it’s normal to get nervous, no matter how much you’ve practiced beforehand. However, don’t let that nervousness force you to make silly mistakes that will cost you dearly when your scores are calculated.

Don’t get tripped up by these very basic but common SAT mistakes on test day.

Take some time today and learn about our available SAT prep and ACT prep courses today.


sat mistakes

Skipping Too Many Questions

Guessing is better than skipping.

On the SAT, you can almost always eliminate one or more answer choices, depending on the section. For example, in the Reading and Writing questions, there is almost always one obviously false answer choice to eliminate. Unfortunately, students get flustered and end up skipping too many questions, which hurts your final score.

Not Guessing On Grid-In Questions

Don’t be afraid to guess on the Math section.

The Student-Produced Response questions, better known as ‘Grid-Ins’, are stressful for many students to answer. Remember, it’s ok to guess because you are not penalized for guessing on the new test.

If you’re not 100% sure of your response but think it’s close enough to be correct, then make the guess. It’s better to provide an answer than skip entirely. You can easily end up doing that too much and screw up your final score badly.

Filling Out Answer Bubbles Incorrectly

Make sure to keep your questions and answer bubbles in alignment.

Another reason to guess versus skipping is you avoid the risk of answering correct questions wrong by misbubbling the answer booklet. When transferring answers over:

  • Keep track of questions you’ve skipped
  • Carefully transcribe your answers over to the booklet

If you see that every bubble is filled in, but you know that you’ve skipped a few questions, then you’ve already misanswered and need to correct asap.


Bringing Your Cell Phone Into Testing Center

Don’t let your phone ruin your test score.

Don’t bring your phone into the test center itself. Don’t Do It. Test proctors will actively observe for any phones out during the test. They do so because cheaters use phones to:

  • Look up math formulas
  • Take pictures of the actual test
  • Share answers with other test takers

If your phone is spotted, then you will promptly be asked to leave and your score will be immediately canceled. To avoid this worst-case scenario:

  • Leave your phone in the car
  • Have your parents hold it for you outside while you take the test

Not Studying Beforehand

You can’t wing the SAT, so don’t even try.

The SAT is not like other tests; you can’t simply wing it and expect a high score. There are plenty of available options to prepare beforehand like:

  • SAT prep courses
  • Online practice tests
  • Flashcards
  • Study apps

Your scores will be sent to your college choices, so if your score is low, they’re not going to care whether you studied hard or not. They’ll simply downgrade your application due to the extremely low score. Prepare thoroughly before taking an official test.

Skipping The Optional Essay

Take advantage of the section most students skip today.

The SAT Essay is optional now, so most students tend to completely skip it on test day. You honestly should tackle it though for two major reasons:

  • It provides practice for college-level writing – you’ll be writing a lot of essays, so use this section to sharpen your skills early
  • You’ll stand out from other applicants – Because they know kids avoid the Essay, admissions boards are likely to show more attention to your application because you accepted a challenge others avoided.


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Dr. Shaan Patel MD MBA

Written by Dr. Shaan Patel MD MBA

Prep Expert Founder & CEO

Shark Tank Winner, Perfect SAT Scorer, Dermatologist, & #1 Bestselling Author
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