The Underrated SAT Skills Test


By: Raj Chander

6 Min Quiz

Image: MassanPH/Moment/Gettyimages

About This Quiz

The Scholastic Aptitude Test, typically referred to by the initials SAT, is undoubtedly the biggest test most American students will take before they turn 18. Usually taken when a student is in their third year of high school (11th grade), the SAT was created to test readiness for post-secondary school, typically a college or university. 

For many years, the test was divided into three sections: Math, Reading, and Writing & Language. In 2005, a third section was added: A written essay based on a prompt. The test was updated again in 2008 and 2012. 

Today, SAT scores are a major factor in determining whether or not a high school graduate is admitted to college. Competitive schools prefer students with higher scores. Accordingly, most students spend years preparing for the SAT test, typically during the end of grade school. Parents invest big money in private tutors, training classes, and practice test materials to ensure their children receive scores that will get them into the best possible schools.

Studying the material on the test is certainly important, but it's not the only thing you need to do well on the SAT. Test how much you know about "soft skills" that may not seem critical, but when combined with plenty of preparation, can help you earn a top score. 

Which skill involves excluding at least one option you know for sure to be incorrect?

By getting rid of just one incorrect answer on a test question, you can increase your odds of getting the question right by 25%. Eliminating two answers means you have a 50% shot of choosing the correct answer!


What's it called when you genuinely start to become curious about the things you're reading?

It's much easier to learn when you find something enjoyable. If a passage you've been assigned aligns with something you're interested in, take advantage and get immersed in it!


What skill describes going through a passage quickly at the beginning of the test?

While you should always try to understand test passages fully, sometimes a surface-level skim is enough for you to answer a few questions.


Avoiding the instructions and starting on the test as soon as time begins is called?

Some find it a better use of time to move right into the questions. You can always come back to the instructions if you get unsure. However, this can also backfire, so be thoughtful about your process!


Which of these are most important to have memorized?

While you are allowed to use a calculator on the test, you still have to know how to use it. There's no way to get around knowing formulas if you want a high score on the SAT math section.


What is it called when you read the section's directions for the second time, after reading the passage you've been assigned?

Once you understand the passage, you'll have more context for what the test's instructions are telling you to do. This is helpful because sometimes decoy answers can fool you if you're not certain of the instructions.


Which skill means going with the answer that comes to mind first?

"Going with your gut" means trusting your instincts, the feeling you get about which answer is right before you spend a while thinking about it. That hunch isn't fooling you!


What is it called when you see yourself choosing the right answer before it happens?

Athletes, entrepreneurs, and musicians are just some of the people who achieve success by visualizing themselves accomplishing their goals. By seeing yourself getting the answers right, you make it more likely to happen in real life.


Skimming, chunking, or going through the passage backwards are all examples of what kind of skill?

When you have a strategy for the way you read your passages, you'll feel more confident and spend less time figuring out how to answer the questions on the reading and writing sections of the test.


What skill allows you to isolate important sentences and sections of passages on the SAT?

Highlighting allows you to extract key points from each passage so that you have a better understanding of main ideas, which can make answering comprehension questions easier.


What skill involves dedicating a set amount of time to each question?

You only have three hours and 50 minutes to complete the test. Get the most out of this time by having a plan for how you will use it, which will let you devote more time to the areas that need it.


What is it called when you begin with areas you are most confident in?

Getting off on the right foot is key to doing well on the test, so start off with areas you know the most. This will also help you build confidence to hit those tougher parts when it's time.


Which skill means reading surrounding words to understand the meaning of a word you don't know?

The context of a word you are unsure of can often help you understand the full question. Of course there's no substitute for old-school vocabulary memorization!


Making sure you read a passage no more than twice is also called?

After two times reading a passage, you've probably learned all you are going to get from it. Conserve your time by doing the best you can with what you know.


What is it called when you use short points to put together the longer main idea of an essay?

By planning your essay with shorter segments, it's easier to settle on a single theme when writing. This will help you organize your thoughts and write something coherent even though you have limited time to do so.


What skill involves using the fewest possible number of words to make your point?

Good writing is concise writing. Whenever possible, avoid using "fluff" or filler words that don't add anything to the main point of your essay. Test-scorers are looking for clarity, not extras.


What should you do instead of leaving questions blank?

You aren't penalized for a wrong answer on the SAT, so you might as well give yourself a chance at getting points by guessing at the answer you think might be right.


Which skill allows you to focus on the things you struggle with?

If you come into the SAT with an idea of which test areas you'll struggle with, it will be easier to do well on those sections. Taking several practice tests will help you know where you struggle most.


What skill means addressing yourself in a helpful, optimistic way?

Optimism is scientifically proven to make you happier, healthier, and increase performance. Give yourself a healthy pat on the back when you need it with positive self-talk.


What do you call a keepsake or object that you think will help you on the test?

While bringing a fake rabbit's foot won't help you on the SAT, it will make you feel better about your performance—and a positive attitude will almost certainly boost your score.


The practice of writing down important information is also called?

Not only are notes helpful to refer back to, the act of writing has been shown to help improve recall. In fact, writing on paper is the best for recall, but any notes are good notes.


Which skill will help you get through the test physically?

Holding a pencil or calculator too tightly can cause muscle cramps. Stretching will keep your hands loose so your body doesn't work against you during the SAT.


Which skill describes progressing through a passage the opposite way you usually would?

Taking notes is a powerful method for improving recall and memory. The simple act of writing something down helps you to remember it. Learn and practice this skill - it will be critical when you get to college.


What is the name of this skill, performed after your essay is written, that will improve your score?

It's not enough to be a good writer—you also have to be skilled at knowing what to leave in and what to exclude. Editing will turn a good SAT essay into a great one.


What skill involves using a name, phrase, or object to recall certain information?

Mnemonic devices typically create new acronyms and phrases to help you remember other sets of information. For example, if you can remember the phrase, "Every Good Boy Does Fine," you'll know the notes on the lines of a musical staff in treble clef. This skill can help you recall long pieces of information that you need for the SAT.


Which of these skills means repeating a phrase or word to keep yourself balanced?

Mantras may seem a bit too spiritual for the SAT, but they can help keep you on an even keel when things get challenging. You'll probably want to repeat your mantra silently while taking the test.


Getting to the testing site ten or fifteen minutes before your test is scheduled to begin is an example of which skill?

You have enough to stress about before the SAT. Don't add more anxiety to the day by having to rush to get to the testing site on time. Eat a healthy breakfast, do a few jumping jacks, and be on your way!


What skill means not handing in your SAT test early?

There's no bonus for finishing early—you might as well use all of the time you have available on the SAT to ensure that you get the best possible score.


Which skill involves paying attention to the summary sentences before each passage?

The blurb is there to help you understand passages—while it may not give you all the info you need, it can help put things in context so you know what is important.


Which skill is important for making sure you are finding enough errors on the SAT Writing and Language Test?

"NO CHANGE" is an option for almost every question in the writing section of the SAT, but it's only the right answer in about 1 in 5 questions. By counting the number of times you select this answer, you'll know if you're on the right track or not.


What skill helps you refresh your mind and recharge your focus?

The mind can only focus on a single task for so long. Keep your brain fresh by taking breaks periodically, either on your own schedule or in line with the official breaks allowed during the test.


Which skill means keeping your performance on different sections of the test separate?

Just because you did well on the first section of the test doesn't mean you'll do well on ensuing ones, and vice versa. Whether you felt like you had a good performance or a poor one, leave it in the past so you can focus on doing your best on the next part of the SAT.


Which skill involves self-talk to assess comprehension?

One of the best ways to show you understand something is being able to answer questions about it. Think of how you would answer hypothetical questions about each passage to make sure you know what it really means.


Which skill is necessary to get the right answer, especially in the Math section?

Math questions are particularly notorious for having several different answers that could be produced. Look for the phrase "solve for" to clue you in to what the question is really asking.


What skill ensures you are ready for the test well before taking it?

It's one of the most important moments of your academic career - spend as much time as possible preparing for it by getting your logistics in order the night before. However, don't stress out too much—aside from being early, follow your normal routines the morning of the SAT.


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