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7 Last-Minute SAT Tricks That'll Save Your Butt On Test Day

Keep calm and Scantron on.

Whether you've been enrolled in a test prep course or you're planning on going into the test cold, it's natural to approach SAT day with some pre-test jitters. If you need a quick confidence pick-me-up, put a couple of these simple tricks in your back pocket. They're by no means the magical keys to the perfect score, but they might just get you through a tricky section or increase your odds on a question where all hope seems futile.

  1. Choose the shortest answer

    This is something of a crap shoot, but if you're stumped on a verbal question, choose the shortest answer. Study publications like SparkNotes claim that SAT writers tend to be concise.

  2. Don't waste time dwelling on questions you don't know

    According to the Princeton Review, all of the questions on the SAT are equally weighted. In every section of the test except reading comprehension, questions start easy and become more challenging as they progress. You are thus better off focusing on the questions you can confidently rock, and saving more iffy questions for later.

  3. Read each answer sentence silently to yourself. Eliminate it if it sounds awkward.

    Test designers for the College Board are highly educated and sophisticated writers. This is why some test prep classes advocate for eliminating clunky- sounding sentences. It's not a perfect method, but it may help if you're stuck and need to narrow things down.

  4. Realize that 'A' is a-okay

    "A" is the answer number associated with the dreaded "No Error" option in the answer section. Don't spend time looking for an error when you instinctively know there isn't one. This likely isn't a trick question. Choose "A" and move on.

  5. Sit up straight

    As soon as you sit down in your desk, adjust your posture, rolling your shoulders back. Maintaining straight posture will help keep you relaxed and boost your confidence, which in turn may help you score better on the test. Throughout the exam, try to periodically check-in with your posture and adjust if you are slouching.

  6. Take long, deep breaths throughout the exam

    Slow, intentional breathing will help keep you calm and counteract some of that adrenaline that's got your heart racing and your palms a little sweaty. Set a goal to take two deep breaths at the top of each section. It will help improve your focus and "reset" you so that your brain is fresh for the new questions at hand.

  7. Chew gum or suck on a hard candy

    Yep. The very thing that got you clean up duty in elementary school may help keep you sharp come the big day. Studies have shown that chewing gum can actually improve focus, so bring a pack to keep your jaws smacking and your wheels turning.

    Not a gum person? Sweets can offer a nice mental boost too. The small amount of sugar in a hard candy is to your brain as a gas pump is to your car. See? You got this!