SAT Exam Prep Tip: Memorize Directions Ahead of Time

Many students report that they feel pressed for time during the SAT and that they are often forced to guess or skip the last few questions of each section due to lack of time. Every second counts on the SAT exam - 30 extra seconds could mean the opportunity to add valuable points to your SAT score.

One way that students can easily add extra time to their SAT exam is by reading and familiarizing themselves with each section’s instructions before the test. Because SAT section order and instructions do not change from test to test or year to year, it is possible to look at a previous exam and become familiar with the instructions as well as the time limits. By doing this students can save themselves several minutes that they may have spent reading the directions and becoming acquainted with the expectations of each section.

One example of something that can be memorized is protocol for filling in the free-response math problems. It can be confusing to try to determine how to enter fractions, where to place the decimal point, and what to do if there is more than one correct answer. Students who become familiar with how to fill in this section ahead of time will prevent themselves from wasting time doing so during the timed exam sections.

Another thing that students can become familiar with is the formulas that are given in the math sections. Students who spend time flipping back and forth to see whether or not a needed formula is provided may find themselves at a loss for time at the end of the exam. On the other hand, students may spend unnecessary time trying to recall and recite a formula that was simply given to them a few pages prior. Familiarizing oneself with these simple tools will find that they have a few extra minutes to devote to working out the actual exam problems. 

It is always important to review the directions to ensure they are what you expect, but taking the time before the exam to memorize the common instructions will add valuable time to each section of the SAT exam.

For more strategies and tips, consider taking one of TutaPoint's comprehensive online SAT Prep Courses. Each course is taught by only the most experienced SAT instructors. Students take a full practice SAT exam after the course, results are then analyzed before students meet with private SAT tutors. Learn more at