Are you taking the digital SAT soon and wondering what some costly mistakes that students often make are and how you could possibly avoid them? In this blog, I’m going to talk about three costly mistakes that I see students make all the time on the digital SAT and hopefully give you some tips to keep you from making the same ones.

### Not Focusing On What the Question Asks For

The first costly mistake that I see students make is not focusing on what the question asks for. This is a very classic SAT thing. In the problem in the video, notice that it says that if *4(x-7) = (x-7) + 3*, what is the value of *x-7*? Now I know that some of you are thinking that they put *x* instead of *x-7*, and yes, that’s a mistake, but there’s a second level to this mistake. And that’s not only that they solve for *x* and put *x*, but I would argue the mistake is that they solve for *x* in the first place. You guys, look at this equation. Both of them are the same exact thing, and they repeat, and that’s actually what I want to solve for. So to solve this, I just write *4n = n + 3*. Solving that equation gives you *n = 1*, and you’re done. So I look at these big, ugly chunks, replace them with my own variable so I can quickly work out the problem, and then I’m done. I call that my big, ugly chunk shortcut.

So again, the idea is that students don’t focus on what they need; they just start solving the problem for *x,* and then they often put *x*. And that’s just bad news. So make sure you always pay attention to what you need. What is the question asking? And then be smart and clever about it. Make some connections and find the shortcuts, and that’s going to help you speed through this test and do better.

### Not Using Pencils and Paper

The second mistake that I see students make is that they don’t use their pencils enough. And that’s because the test is now a digital one. One of the biggest mistakes that I see students making is that you guys do not write enough stuff down. So the incidence of careless errors, in my estimation, is going up by one or two questions per test for a lot of my students because they’re just not using their pencils and they’re trying to do too much in their heads. This is a high-stakes test, and the points that you get count a lot. So, it’s really important that you do everything humanly possible to keep yourself from screwing up, and one of the easiest things you can do is pick up your pencil and use it. Use up all your scratch paper and raise your hand early on. I recommend getting extra scratch paper during the first section if you’re triggering the hard section because the hard section is going to get really hard, really fast, and that’s going to be hard to finish on time for some of you. So get extra scratch paper up front. Ask for more, and just advocate for yourself. Just say that you know you need at least two pages because you know yourself. Because if you need paper, you need paper. Get lots of scratch paper, don’t be afraid to write things down, and don’t be stingy with your scratch paper.

### Not Reading Carefully Enough

The third mistake is super specific. There’s these word problems that are *y = mx + b* word problems. And one of the classic tricks the SAT pulls is that they have this thing where they mess with you a little bit. So let’s read this next question:

Catherine is renting a car, which has a flat fee of $30 for the first 24-hour rental period plus $20 for every additional 24 hours she uses it. If Catherine has

xdollars with her, which inequality shows the number of 24-hour periods,h, she can afford to rent the car?

So *h* is the number of days that she’s renting the car. The biggest mistake that students make is saying that it’s a $30 flat fee and there’s $20 for every 24-hour period, so $20 a day, right? So if *h* is the 24-hour period, that’s the number of days. So* 20h + 30* is going to be the cost. What big mistake did I just make there? I forgot that it was every *additional* 24 hours. So what’s happening is that this 30 has a day of access baked into it, and a lot of students forget that. So what’s actually happening is that this is *20(h – 1)* because that first 24-hour period is covered. So it’s actually *20h – 20 + 30*, which is *20h + 10*. The other thing to be careful of is to just make sure you’re not messing up your *x* and your* h* and that you’re keeping your variables straight. There are a lot of little details to keep a hold of, but that’s basically the biggest mistake. This mistake is forgetting the additional, but those detail-oriented kinds of mistakes in word problems are something to watch out for. Keep your eyes peeled.

I hope you guys like this blog and find it helpful!