SAT Test Help: What to Do if You’re a Slow Test Taker

Even if you know all of the test concepts down cold, you still may not be able to get a high score if you run out of time. If you’re a slow test taker, it’s important to learn how to efficiently use your time. You’ll sometimes need to sacrifice a few right answers in order to keep up your pace. You may not be used to this at first, but if you use the following techniques over time, they’ll become like second nature. Your scores will soon improve.

Don’t worry too much

When you begin a new section, you may get nervous that you aren’t going fast enough in order to finish. Don’t worry too much about running out of time, because this will just make you go slower. You’ll freak yourself out, which will distract you and hinder your focus. It will harm rather than help. So relax and trust yourself. Everything is going to be fine. Remember that if you budget your time wisely, finishing should be no problem.

Plan out your time

Set tiny goals for yourself. For example, in a multiple-choice section, you may decide that you want to complete one question per minute. You can then watch the clock and make sure you stay on track. You’ll be able to see when your pace is too slow. If you find that you need to move faster, you may have to skip some questions or guess so that you can answer as many as possible. Don’t dwell too long on anything.

On the essay, plan your time beforehand. Decide how long you need to spend outlining, writing and editing. Remember to always leave a little bit of extra time for yourself just in case.

Use the process of elimination

You may be able to quickly eliminate clearly wrong answers as soon as you look at the question. This will save you time because the right answer may become apparent without you doing much work. You shouldn’t depend on this strategy too much, but it may help to speed things up if you’re falling behind.

Practice, practice, practice

Use practice tests in order to train yourself to go at a certain pace. You can see which sections you complete slowest. This will allow you to see which areas you need to work on.

Don’t overthink

Don’t spend too long double-checking your answers. Once you’ve chosen what you think is the correct option, move on. You can double-check everything at the end if you have extra time.


  • Nadira Berman

    As a Summer Marketing Intern, Nadira is excited to help high schoolers prepare for the SAT and ACT. As a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, she is considering studying economics. In her free time, she reports for the school newspaper and styles photo shoots for the school's fashion magazine. Besides fashion and journalism, her passions include bagels, smoothies and Netflix.

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