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Running Out of Time?

Time is a struggle for students taking the SAT & ACT, so one of the more common questions I get is, “How can I finish the section/test in time?”

While this is a complicated question that depends on a bunch of factors and can be addressed by a ton of different tactics, there is one underrated factor that decreases the time you have to work on the questions: time spent bubbling in your answers.

As an experiment, I bubbled in answers from an Old SAT Grammar Section (35 questions) to see how long it takes to bubble in answers from a test booklet to the bubble sheet. You can see the results, and how to prepare for this time loss, in the video below.

Note: The video gives estimates for the time spent bubbling on Old SAT sections. Here are those estimates for the New SAT:

New SAT Reading: 52 Questions, 3:07 spent bubbling in answers (wow!)

New SAT Writing: 44 Questions, 2:38 spent bubbling

New SAT Math (No Calculator): 20 Questions, 1:12 spent bubbling

New SAT Math (Calculator): 38 Questions, 2:17 spent bubbling.

The estimates for the New SAT Math sections are likely underestimates because bubbling in grid-in answers takes longer than bubbling in multiple choice answers. But you can use them just to get a sense of just how much time you’ll be spending simply recording your answers.

About the Author:

I’m Rob Schombs, the founder of Reason Prep, creator of these videos, and your test prep tutor. I earned a BA in Chemistry (2006) and an MA in Science and Technology Studies (2009) from Cornell University. In 2010 I started tutoring SAT, ACT, math, chemistry, and writing full-time, and Reason Prep followed shortly after!