Hello there,

I’m having trouble with time on the SAT because I’m like pretty slow.

Do you have any tips on increasing my speed gradually or something like that.

Thanks for helping me

This is a really tough one—I get asked it a lot and I struggle each time with how to respond. A few things make it tricky: 1) different people struggle with speed for different reasons, and 2) for many people, speed and accuracy are inversely related: the faster you get, the less accurate you get. Frustration and diminishing returns are common results for people who just focus on speed without being thoughtful about it.

I can best address the first reason by saying that speed issues are often really content issues. If you don’t know how to approach a question because you’ve never seen one like it before, you’re obviously going to be slow on that question. The solution there isn’t to rush, it’s to become more familiar with the kinds of questions the SAT throws at you over and over. It’s a standardized test and as such, it follows certain patterns over and over again. Speed generally increases with content mastery and test familiarity.

Assuming that’s NOT your issue, your mission is to find a way to get faster while not sacrificing accuracy. You’ll have to achieve this with a careful analysis of your current approach, followed by some trial-and-error for how to change that approach. A quick example of what I mean that may or may not apply to you:

Say your current approach is to read each question twice, find the answer, then read the question again to make sure you found the right answer, and then to bubble. You might try a test where you don’t read the question twice up front and see what that does for your speed and score. You might also try eliminating your final checking read, or the way you bubble (a page at a time instead of every question—not my preferred method but I know people do it). If an intervention speeds you up and you don’t lose accuracy, keep it! If it either doesn’t speed you up much or it costs you more points than it wins you (say, you are able to answer 4 more questions but you make 5 more speed-related errors than usual), try something else.

I hope that helps a bit!

Leave a Reply