Voted Top Ten Tips on SAT

Voted Top Ten Tips on the SAT

It’s October, help! As a tutor, I’m always looking for ways to help my students slash through their SAT prep time. So I spent the month of Sept., looking for the best ideas tested by dozens of tutors from across the U.S. Stellar tutors such as Stacy Lott and Erica Meltzer win hands down!

Here’s a brief summary of Top Ten Tips, often used by my own students in Westchester:

Critical Reading:

1) Fill in the Blank Vocab Questions: Jot down the words that you think are the right ones (don’t look at the answers). You must WRITE DOWN THE WORD (not just air write it in your head). Then, find the word from the multiple choice answers that best matches your meaning. CROSS OUT the wrong answers by putting a line through them.

2) On the “backwards questions” in the Critical Reading section, circle the NOT or EXCEPT word to remind yourself that you’re looking for the “backwards answer.”

3) The more excited you are to read the Critical Reading passages, the better you will do. Attitude is everything in life.

4) For main idea questions — The thesis is usually the last sentence of the first paragraph.

(Thanks to Stacy Lott for Critical Reading)


5) Try to cross out prepositional phrases and get the sentence down to the bare bones. Frequently used Prepositional Phrases: Of, to, In

6) Do you know what a “Dangling Modifier” is? (Don’t feel badly if you don’t. Check out Erica Meltzer’s blog to see full explanation.)

7) Read Erica Meltzer’s EXCELLENT BLOG and PWNtheSAT’s great dangling modifier explanation and examples. Also check out verb-subject agreement and parallelism. Spend a few hours before the next SAT to figure these out. They comprise up to 25% of the English exam!


(These ideas, shared by Ms. Lott)

8) Turn things back to y = mx + b when it’s written differently.

9) Make sure you know what you are solving for. Circle or write down what they are asking. AFTER you solve the problem, and BEFORE you look at the answer choices, RE-READ the question to make sure you know what they are asking for. (Common error here).

10) Judge your question –  Does your answer match the difficulty of the question? (Medium questions have medium – not easy – answers). In other words, if you’re agonizing over question #3, you’re probably overcomplicating it; and if you got question #20 very easily, be suspicious. Your answer is probably not right. This is an obvious but CRITICAL evaluation I have shared with my students.

Students – Be brief, be savvy, aim for the bull’s eye of the question!

About admin

Theresa Xia Michna, M.A. has prepared students for the SAT/ACT/GRE/GMAT exams for over a decade. Most recently, she has led STEAM workshops in schools in Westchester. STEAM enriches the study of math, engineering, technology, through an appreciation for artistic problem solving. She is truly delighted to be able to merge the creativity of math with so many other skills. She also coaches students in college essays through her specially designed College Application Essay Workshops. A published writer, she has written English curriculum at the United Nations, Vienna, been an adjunct at Manhattanville College and Pace University, and taught English at the American International School in Vienna, Austria.
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