Two Life-Saving Tricks to Keep Time on the SAT | Winward Academy


Two Life-Saving Tricks to Keep Time During the SAT Exam

A big challenge for students on the SAT is finishing each section within the time limit. Maintaining the right pace is essential, so students benefit tremendously from tips and tricks to manage time and pacing.

Why is all this so important? 

In our blog, 24-Hour Countdown: Everything You Need Before Test Day, we advised that you bring a watch without an audible alarm to your exam. Remember: If you have anything that beeps during the test, your test is automatically canceled, and it’s taken away from you! So tip #1 – don’t bring anything that could beep.

The test rooms are supposed to have a clock, but you never know if it’s going to work or if it’s going to be in an awkward location where you have to turn around to look at it. Tip #2 – wear a watch (back to tip #1 – a silent watch will do the trick). And, having chosen your watch, practice with it in advance so you know how to pace yourself.

Next, you need to know our two time-tested tricks to make pacing simple. These tricks are designed to avoid the additional anxiety for students starting a section at 11:17 and trying to add 35 minutes to that to then keep track of an ending time of 11:52. All of that just adds extra stress that we’re trying to eliminate with these tricks, which are based on the fact that the actual time of day isn’t important. What’s important is just how much time you have left for each section.

Please try each trick when you take practice tests to see which you prefer.

TRICK 1: Start at noon (preferred by most students)

Before each section begins, set your watch to noon. Watch the minute hand to quickly tell you how much time you’ve spent in the section. You’ll be able to quickly calculate how many minutes remain.


Section Time Allowed Time to End Starting at Noon



Writing & Language



Math – no calculator



Math – with calculator



TRICK 2: End at noon

Before a section begins, backtrack to a starting time based on ending at noon.  Set your watch as follows, and check your watch regularly, knowing that your time is up at 12:00.


Section Time Allowed Time to Set to End at Noon



Writing & Language



Math – no calculator



Math – with calculator 55


For more advice to maximize your potential on the ACT, see these top tips for maximizing performance on test day.

Do you like what you’ve read? Please click the links to share with friends who would also benefit from knowing tips to keep track of time during the SAT.

About Winward Academy – Winward Academy is one of the world’s leading innovators in the online education space, providing web-based academic support that enhances students’ knowledge, confidence, and competitiveness in middle and high school academics and in college applications. We help thousands of students every year by providing personalized, comprehensive ACT prep, SAT prepand extensive math curriculum support. The Winward Academy learning platform honors over 40 years of education and cognitive psychology research, incorporating proven techniques that promote effective learning.

Winward Academy’s unmatched reputation is wholly attributable to our students’ exceptional success and to the trust earned among students, parents, and schools around the world.

Jennifer Winward, Ph.D.

Dr. Jennifer Winward is a renowned college instructor, a distinguished 20-year veteran of high school tutoring, and the founder and lead instructor of Winward Academy. She earned her Ph.D. specializing in adolescent brain development and adolescent learning. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated summa cum laude with highest distinction honors. Dr. Winward has been widely recognized for her academic success, published research, and philanthropic efforts with awards from the President of the United States, the California State Assembly, Rotary International, the Marin County School Administrator Association, the American Psychological Association, and the National Science Foundation.

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