sat time management

Time management is an essential skill to cultivate to do well on the SAT.  Many students struggle to finish each section of the test within the allotted time.  Because this is an issue that nearly every student encounters, it is vital to learn time management as early as possible in your preparation for the SAT.  The best way to start is by timing yourself when you do a practice section.  This will give you an idea of where you need to move more quickly and perhaps where you can take more time.  In addition to these general guidelines, here are some time management tips that are section-specific:


Many students are intimidated by the fact that they are given only 25 minutes to write the essay.  However, if you break the writing process into 3 component parts, the essay become much easier to manage.

First 5 Minutes: Read the question and formulate your opinion.  Then brainstorm 3 major examples that you will use to illustrate your thesis.

Next 15 Minutes: Write the essay

Last 5 Minutes: Proofread the essay in order to correct any grammatical mistakes

By using this template, you can ensure that you will complete your essay within 25 minutes.


Critical Reading

The reading section is often the most problematic area for students with time management issues.  A common mistake is to read every line of the passage and to attempt to understand all of its minor details.  Most students realize quickly that this approach makes it nearly impossible to finish on time.  Instead, you should read each passage as quickly as you can in order to grasp the answer to two key questions: the Main Idea of the passage and the Author’s Point-of-View

Once you feel that you have formulated basic ideas about these issues, move on to the questions.  The time you have saved by skimming and scanning instead of reading every line can now be put toward looking back in the passage to find support for each answer choice.  



Since the Math section is exactly like the rest of the SAT in terms of its predictability, most students find that the more familiar they are with the types of questions asked, the faster they are able to complete each section.  Since you have 25 minutes to complete 20 math questions, you have an average of slightly over 1 minute to answer each question. 

If you exceed this amount of time, you should move on to another question and then aim to come back to the one that gave you difficulty.  Avoid getting hung up on one particular question at the expense of the others.  

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