I’ll be honest: I hate that I’m actually devoting space on this site to reminding you to read each question very carefully, but I am because I’ve worked with enough kids to know that errors due to misreading (and misbubbling — ARGH!) are unspeakably common.

Rest assured that, if there’s a way a question could possibly be misinterpreted by a test taker, the SAT writers have anticipated that error and made it an incorrect answer choice. So if you don’t read the question carefully the first time, you’ll feel warm and fuzzy about your incorrect answer. You might catch your mistake if you finish early and have time to review your answers, but there’s also a pretty good chance your warm-and-fuzzy will carry all the way through until you get your score report back and see than you missed #6 and you’re all like WTFFFFFF.

The SAT has been known to:
  • Give all the question information in feet, and ask for an answer in inches. Of course, make the same answer in feet an incorrect choice.
  • Ask testers to solve for x2, which is 49 (a perfect square – those monsters). Make 7 an incorrect answer choice to give the warm-and-fuzzy to everyone who automatically solved for x like they do every other day of the year.
  • Write a question about John and Susie buying iguana treats or some crap. Ask how many Susie bought. Make the number John bought a choice too.

So yeah. This isn’t really a “strategy” so much as it is me imploring you to actually put your eyes on the paper and read the question carefully, because the SAT has a long history of humbling those who don’t.

You may be laughing now. You won’t be when you lose precious points because of careless errors. Read the question carefully. Always.

Comments (8)

Are you kidding?  I think this is so worthy of posting that I think you should re-post it once a month to remind us.  

It took me MONTHS to realize how important it is to read every single word of the question (and answers).  I often underline what they are asking for (now, after months of getting them wrong).

I’m a skimmer, by nature — a cocktail party reader.  I’m voracious, not careful.  By nature, I want to mass consume information.  Most of the time, I’m moving WAY more quickly than I should be.”Read the Question” was a lesson I had to learn over and over and over again before I finally got it.  I rarely have mis-read errors now, but it still does happen to me.I can’t imagine I’m much different than a lot of people in this.

Yep – best strategy out there!  I spend much of my tutoring time saying “really?”  and it’s usually b/c the student read the question wrong. (Of course today it was in response who insisted that -5 + 5 was 10) 

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