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In this lesson, we’ll be looking at strategies to use for guessing on SAT subject tests, such as the chemistry test. We’ll go over when and how to guess to get partial credit on this type of test.

What Are SAT Subject Tests?

Going to school each day can be a challenge. You’re forced to take core classes, and maybe you’re not in love with all of them.

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English and history really aren’t your thing, but you live for your long block afternoons when you get to have chemistry labs. You can’t wait to get to college where you can take the classes you’re interested in, but first you have to get into college. You’re worried about how your SAT will go, since English isn’t your strong suit.Luckily for you, there are SAT subject tests. Although it might seem crazy to think that another standardized test could be for your benefit, SAT subject tests allow you to show your skills to colleges in the area of your choice. There are many subjects to choose from, and chemistry is just one of them.

The SAT subject tests are standardized tests on common subjects covered in high school
Elimination

With a five-choice answer, you have a 20% chance of getting the answer correct by random guessing.

However, we can greatly increase the likelihood of getting the answer correct if we can narrow down the choices. If you can eliminate even two of the answer choices, now you have a 30% chance of getting the answer correct. If you can narrow down the question to two answer choices, then you have a 50-50 chance of getting that point.

Start by reading the question carefully. Eliminate answers you know to be incorrect. If you see answers that have nothing to do with the topic posed in the question, you can probably eliminate those, too. For example, if we’re looking at a problem on the chemistry SAT subject test about reacting two metals together, the answer is probably not hydration, since the prefix ”hydro” means water. We can eliminate that answer choice and improve our chances of guessing.

Estimate

SAT subject tests are timed, so you don’t want to use too much time going over extensive calculations for any one problem. In fact, if you find yourself doing lines and lines of calculations, you’ve probably headed down the wrong path, since all the questions are designed to be answered relatively quickly due to the time constraint.

You can use a method called estimation to help you eliminate wrong answers for calculation problems.Take a look at the problem logically. If the problem on your physics SAT subject test is asking you to find the velocity of a baseball being thrown, you probably won’t need an answer in the hundreds range or higher. You can then eliminate answers that fall in these illogical ranges.

Predict and Choose

Sometimes in the stress of the test, multiple choice answers do more harm than good. You might think you know the answer, but then be tempted by a wrong answer choice. If this common test-taking anxiety feels familiar to you, you can try the predict and choose method.

In this strategy, simply read the question and then think about the answer, but don’t look at the choices yet. Once you’ve decided, look to see if your answer choice is there. If it is, that’s probably the correct answer. If not, then you might need to try another strategy here, such as elimination.

Question-Specific Guess Methods

There are some specific types of questions that you’ll see on an SAT subject test where you can use your guessing skills in a particular way. Classification questions give you a set of five answer choices that apply to a particular set of questions.

The benefit of these questions is that some answer choices might look really good for some questions and not so good for others. This will help you use elimination to narrow down your choices for each question.Another type of question is the ‘I, II, and III’ question. The prompts for these questions give three statements and test takers need to decide which of the three statements are true. Although it can seem tricky, if you know one of the statements is wrong you can cross out any answer choices that include that statement, thus increasing your chances of making a correct guess.

Lesson Summary

The SAT subject tests are timed tests based in a particular content area.

The SAT subject tests penalize test takers for wrong answers, deducting 1/4 of a point for each wrong answer on five-answer multiple choice questions, for instance. However, test takers can use elimination to cross out wrong answers and increase the odds of guessing the correct answer. Estimating the correct answer in calculation problems can help eliminate wrong answers during guessing.

To avoid getting overwhelmed by answer choices, students can also predict the right answer and look for it in the answer choices. Classification questions and ‘I, II, and III’ questions can specifically benefit from these strategies.

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