Guessing on the SAT is a tricky thing – you’re penalized for wrong answers, but don’t receive any points for guesses. Too many wrongs and your score may plummet, but too many blanks and your score will never increase.
So, what should you do?
Guessing is a game of statistics and probability. Understanding and manipulating the scoring system ups the ante and increases your chances of making the right choice: blank or guess.
Each section of the SAT is scored out of 800 points. Students begin with 200 points, and work their way up the point-ladder to a perfect 800. For every correct answers, students move up one rung. For every blank, students remain where they are, and for every incorrect answer, students descend the ladder one quarter of a rung.
Here’s the trick: Once a student is three quarters of the way up the ladder – at about a 550 – the whole guess versus skip becomes null and void.
The chances of a 550-level student answering every guess incorrectly are extremely slim. They’re strong enough test-takers to reach the 550-mark, so they’re strong enough test takers to answer a few questions they’re unsure about correctly – by sheer luck or by process of elimination.
So, before showing up to the actual exam, it’s important to know your performance level so that you can appropriately strategize.