The SAT is an admissions test required by many colleges and universities. It assesses school-related skills in reading, writing and mathematics. The math section addresses basic operations, algebra, geometry, statistics and probability. Once you understand the scoring procedure and test format, you can use this knowledge to decide if guessing will improve your score.


When deciding whether to take a guess at some of the math answers, it's important to understand how the SAT is scored. All sections of the SAT are scored the same way: one point for each correct answer and zero points if a question is omitted. In addition, on all multiple-choice questions, one-quarter point is deducted for each wrong answer. Part of the math section calls for student-produced responses; test-takers fill in answers on a grid. No points are deducted for incorrect answers here.


The quarter-point deduction was established so that guessing is not rewarded, but, in fact, it simply indicates an incorrect answer. If you guess during the entire test, you will get some answers correct just by chance, but all the wrongs ones will count against you. However, consider how mistakes impact the overall score. Each multiple choice question has five possible answers. If you can rule out even one answer on each question you don't know, take a guess. When you consider the entire section, it's very likely that some of the answers you guess will be correct, and each of those will gain you a full point. You will probably earn a better overall score than if you leave the unknown questions blank.

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About the Author

Living in upstate New York, Susan Sherwood is a researcher who has been writing within educational settings for more than 10 years. She has co-authored papers for Horizons Research, Inc. and the Capital Region Science Education Partnership. Sherwood has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University at Albany.