When it comes to improving their ACT and SAT scores, some students convince themselves that strategy doesn’t count for a whole lot. In practice, this couldn’t be further from the truth: strategy is what actually enables the most significant score increases.

Strategy means approaching questions systematically, using straightforward methods and procedures that are broadly applicable to a variety of problems that test the same underlying principle. At Method Test Prep, we teach students to look for certain cues within problems and questions that suggest a specific strategy will work. Take, for example, this SAT Writing & Language question.

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The structure of the answer choices alone gives the question away: because a similar phrase is used three times in the choices, this question is a good candidate for redundancy, a concept the SAT tests frequently on its Writing & Language section. We always teach students to compare the answer choices themselves––how they’re presented can be very revealing. Furthermore, the mere presence of the option to DELETE the underlined portion should attract attention. Knowing and practicing these two simple behaviors––comparing choices to each other and paying special attention to DELETEs––can alert students to the fact that this question tests redundancy, even if they don’t know what “annually” means, and even if they don't initially notice the repetition. That’s strategy, and it is incredibly effective.

Still not convinced? Watch this video, which showcases two seemingly disparate ACT math problems to demonstrate how the same fundamental strategy can be used to solve both.