The Return of the Pink Eraser

Do not show up to the SAT or ACT with a mechanical pencil, and definitely do not show up with a bad eraser! Every year I yell and scream these Do Nots and every year students don’t listen and there are tears! Therefore, this year I am putting these Do Nots in writing.

Here’s what you need to know about Scantrons: Scantron machines look for the darkest area on the paper. If a mark is too light, then an answer may be marked incorrect (even though it might be correct).

Ever watch a student use a mechanical pencil? Well, I have. Students write lightly because they don’t want to break the tip, and, since they always do break the tip, and break it often, they are constantly clicking for more lead. Fact: If you write lightly on the Scantron, there is a good chance the machine will mark a correct answer incorrect. Plus, constantly clicking for more lead takes focus away from the test questions. So, bring five old-fashioned #2 pencils to the test and bubble away with confidence.

Now onto erasing. Last year I literally had a student tear a HOLE in his Scantron because of his eraser. Students should bring a separate eraser. Think the big, pink eraser that you used in 2nd grade. As stated above, Scantron machines look for the darkest mark, and the machine will be confused if there are two or three marks on one line because the student did not erase effectively.

Although the correct eraser will help eliminate unwanted marks, it will only help so much. Therefore, students should first put an answer down in their test book and then put the answer on the Scantron. Students should be confident about their answer choice when bubbling in. This will eliminate subsequent Scantron mistakes. But, do NOT leave the bubbling to the end of the section. Bubble as you go. Perish the thought that a student gets to the end of a section, the bell rings, and nothing is bubbled in! Perish indeed!

Since I don’t like to end my Tip of the Week on a negative note, I will briefly share some Do’s: Do bring extra batteries for your graphing calculator; do bring water and snacks; do bring a watch; and, most importantly, do bring your confidence!

Working Backwards

The SAT and ACT are both long, exhausting exams that test your stamina just as much as they test your knowledge and test taking abilities. To do well on these tests, it’s important to learn strategies that can not only save time, but also save brain power. On the math sections, if you find yourself stuck on how to solve a particular problem, the Working Backwards method may help. Working Backwards is a key math strategy that takes the hard work and thinking out of the exams. You will find that it is often simpler to substitute the answer choices back into the problem rather than solving the given equation. Let the tests do the work for you by using the answers they provide and plugging these numbers back into the original problem.

Below is everything you need to know about the Working Backwards strategy:

  • Use this strategy when you see variables in the problem and numbers in the answer choices.
  • Plug the answer choices back into the problem.
  • Start with the MIDDLE number. The answer choices always go in numerical order. By starting with the middle number, you will save time by eliminating half of the answer choices right away! After plugging in the middle number, you will see whether you need a larger or smaller number as your answer.

Working with this strategy allows you to use the tests’ multiple choice format to your advantage. One of the answers they provide you has to be right, so why not borrow one of their answers instead of coming up with your own? Work with the test instead of against it and you’ll no longer find yourself struggling to come up with the correct response!

12 signs you’re losing it in the college admissions process

It’s easy to lose your sense of humor while dealing with the stress of applying to colleges…  (more…)

1 2 3 25

Blog Categories