18 May 2011

Save time-consuming questions for last

If you are not, under any circumstances, willing to jump around within sections, then please skip this article. If you are willing to do so, however, this is a strategy you might want to try. It’s based on the principle that since (1) you have a limited amount of time, and that (2) every question, easy or hard, is worth exactly the same number of points, your goal should be to obtain as many points as quickly as possible.

However: since reading questions are presented in no particular order of difficulty, you need to do a little bit of work upfront to identify questions likely to take you a while to answer before you get caught up in them and waste a couple of minutes better spent answering two or three other questions quickly.

While I do understand that different questions are hard for different people, the following types of questions generally tend to be more time-consuming than others because it is very difficult to answer them based on a general knowledge of the passage; you must almost always go back and read carefully:

-Which of the following? I, II, and III These tend to take the most time, so they should be the last questions you do. Especially on the ACT, where you can go crazy trying to locate the necessary information.

-Analogy questions The SAT only pretended to get rid of analogies. A question that asks, “Which of the following is most analogous to the situation described in lines x…y?)” involves several steps of logic and usually takes a little while to figure out.

-Passage 1/Passage 2 relationship questions Usually these appear after the questions asking about the passages individually, but sometimes they’re mixed in with them.

-ACT questions that ask about dates or years.

Although these questions may seem straightforward, the exact information rarely appears directly in the passage, and it is often necessary to perform some basic calculations in order to determine the answer.

-“Which of the following would most undermine/refute the argument in lines x…y” questions These also usually require a couple of steps of logic

-All of the following EXCEPT While you can often eliminate a couple of answers based on your memory of the passage, there’s often no way to be certain unless you go back and hunt for the others.

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