The SAT Test has a Penalty for Guessing
Is your child taking the SAT this spring? Did you know the SAT has a penalty for guessing? When I explain to parents the difference between the SAT and the ACT, I often mention that the SAT has a penalty for guessing. The problem is that it’s difficult for me to explain exactly what that MEANS, though. I’m not a mathematician, and the concept is a little complicated.
Here is what I know about the SAT:
They calculate the number of correct answers
They subtract the number of incorrect answers.
That’s why they call it a “penalty for guessing.” In other words, a wrong answer hurts more than leaving the answer blank.
For that reason, most test prep companies recommend a simple strategy.
- If you don’t have a clue which is the answer, don’t guess. Because each question has four possible answers, it’s not worth guessing.
- If you are certain that one answer is wrong, then guess. Once you get it down to possibly a 1 in 3 chance of getting it right, then guessing may pay off.
Of course, it’s BEST when you actually KNOW the answer. But if you don’t know the answer on the SAT, only guess when you can eliminate at least one answer.
For more information, USA Today has an article about how the College Board is eliminating the Penalty for Guessing in the AP exams. You can read that article here: College Board to end penalty for guessing on AP tests.