I have posted video explanations to all of the math questions in the January 2013 Official SAT Test(Form Codes: AEWZ, BWWZ). This test is available as part of the SAT Question and Answer Service.
Here I list several strategies that can help you curb careless mistakes during the SAT test:
- Read Carefully: Read the question very carefully and read it several times. On the difficult problems, you will not grasp the entire question on one reading. You may have to read it two or three times, or more. In general, harder questions require several readings.
- Stay organized: Do all of your scratch work in a systematic manner. Write in the blank area in the test booklet.
- Write legibly: Your work should be clear enough that you can read your own handwriting. This is helpful in situations when you end up with an answer that is not in one of the answer choices. This often happens when one makes a careless mistake. To spot your mistake it helps if your work is written in a clear and legible manner.
- Don't use the Calculator: I know a lot of students are completely reliant on the calculator, and many people would disagree with me when I suggest not using the calculator. All of the SAT math questions are written in a way that they can be solved without the use of calculator, and on many questions it might be to your advantage not to use the calculator. The problem with doing your work on the calculator is that you cannot go back to check your steps if you made a mistake. In contrast, it is a lot easier to spot a mistake if you have the steps written in your test booklet.
- Redraw diagrams: On the SAT one does not need to redraw things, but I find redrawing helps me digest the problem and also help me see the solution.
- Slow Down: Don't rush off to attack the problem immediately and don't change the problem to what you think it is asking, be careful about that temptation.
- Recognize the Difficulty Level of a Question: Look at the Official SAT tests and recognize where the difficult questions are, generally at the end of each subsection. Keep an eye on the medium level questions where you are likely to trip on misreading the question. The easy/medium questions rely more on how the question is phrased, whereas the harder questions test advanced concepts and one is less likely to trip on verbiage.
- Reread the question at the end: Once you have completed the problem, reread the question to make sure you are answering what the question is asking for. For example, if you defined a variable x to solve the problem, check to make sure the question is not asking for the value of x-2.
The best source for preparing and practicing for the SAT exam are the Official SAT tests released by the Collegeboard. Here I list the reasons why this is the best choice:
- The questions written by ETS/Collegeboard for the SAT exam are very well written and have been parsed carefully for mistakes and ambiguity.
- All of the questions used in an actual SAT exams have been pretested as part of the experimental section and ETS has accurate data on all the questions. This ensures the accuracy of these questions. No test prep company or outfit can match this level of rigorousness.
- Many of the SAT questions are often repeats or slight variations of past SAT questions. For example, in my analysis of the October 2012 SAT, about 30% of the questions had appeared in similar form in the past exams.
- Most questions written by test prep outfits do not adhere closely to the style of the SAT, are often ambiguous, and may contain errors. It is best to avoid them. Although, it is perfectly fine to use the books to understand the concepts and ideas tested on the SAT. However, for actual practice I recommend strictly using official SAT questions.
And finally, here is a text of a reply to a question by someone who had worked for ETS writing multiple choice questions.
"However, to ETS's credit, the tests are RIGOROUSLY tested.
ETS employs squadrons of statisticians. Every question is tested before being used, via the "experimental" section. This means that every scared test-taker is a guinea pig, doing work for which they receive no credit or compensation. But again, how else could ETS get real data to determine if a question is fair? And if a question has unusual results -- way more whites, or men, get it right, for example -- then they change or discard the question, even if it seems otherwise valid.
So, IMO, rant all you want about standardized testing, but ETS is actually doing a fair job of creating an unfair test."
You can read the complete answer at the following link: Quora ETS and Multiple Choice Questions.