Let’s recall how the SAT is scored. The SAT raw score is calculated by
• adding one point for each correct answer.
• subtracting 1⁄4 point for an incorrect answer.
• neither adding nor subtracting for an answer left blank.
If your goal is to rack up as many raw score points as possible, it’s better to not answer a question than to answer it incorrectly.
Therefore, many companies have come up with the following SAT prep guessing tip: If you can eliminate at least one of the five possible answer choices, you should guess from the remaining four answer choices.
Let’s say John eliminates 1 incorrect answer choice on each of 4 SAT questions. However, he leaves all of these questions blank. His net raw score for those 4 questions would be +0.
Now let’s say Sally eliminates 1 incorrect answer choice on each of 4 SAT questions. However, she guesses on all of these questions. Probability would predict that that she should get at least one right. Her net raw score for those 4 questions would be +1/4.
In theory, Sally’s guessing strategy would make more sense than John’s strategy of leaving all of the questions blank. However, Sally’s strategy also depends on her guessing randomly. Random guessing means you will pick an answer choice without any prejudice, partiality, or predisposition. But that isn’t how any student “guesses” on the SAT.
Your guess is always biased in some way because you have an inclination to choose one answer choice over the others. What makes matters even worse is that the College Board is really good at making wrong answer choices look appealing to unsure students. So your chance of guessing the correct answer actually becomes less than 25%.
Therefore, at 2400 Expert, we recommend the following SAT prep guessing strategy: If you can eliminate at least two of the five possible answer choices, you should guess from the remaining three answer choices. In addition, try to make your guess as random as possible. Don’t let your own personal bias towards an answer choice influence your guess.