Knowing how many you can omit and still achieve your goal is one key to success.

As you know, the SAT penalizes an incorrect response with a one-quarter-point deduction. Your raw score is therefore computed as follows:

- +1 point for each correct response
- +0 points for each omitted (left blank) response
- -1/4 point for each incorrect response

One of the most deeply ingrained reactions that you need to overcome is that of answering every question; after all, that’s what you’ve always done. (How many other tests have you taken that penalized you – actually subtracted points! - for being wrong?) On the SAT, you can score quite well if you get 90% of the questions correct and leave the other 10% blank.

On the Math test, there are 54 questions. Let's take a look at an example of the effect on your score of questions being incorrect vs. omitted.

Total Number of Questions Correct | Total Number of Questions Incorrect | Total Number of Questions Omitted | Approximate Scaled Score |
---|---|---|---|

10 | 44 | 0 | 200 |

10 | 0 | 44 | 370 |

Wow! 170 points! 85% higher! That's quite a difference. Now this example is, admittedly, a bit extreme (only 10 questions answered correctly), so let's look at one that's more likely.

Total Number of Questions Correct | Total Number of Questions Incorrect | Total Number of Questions Omitted | Approximate Scaled Score |
---|---|---|---|

34 | 20 | 0 | 530 |

34 | 0 | 20 | 570 |

Certainly not as dramatic, but 40 points higher (7.5%) is still pretty amazing when you consider that all you're doing is choosing to leave the question blank.