Rate problems are common on the SAT or ACT. Calculate the rate of a train traveling x miles in y hours, for example. Or how many hours will it take to mow the lawn if 8 people can mow the lawn in 6 hours but 3 people take the day off?

While knowing how to solve these rate problems will help, there is one rate problem that is by far the most important: how many points can you score per minute? Points per minute is the most important rate to consider when taking the SAT and/or ACT. The name of the game is scoring points, i.e. getting correct answers, but the game is only played when you factor in the timing. A question I often ask students after a practice set: do you have more test at the end of the time or do you have more time at the end of the test? Answers to this question represent an opportunity for a student. The student that has more test at the end of time needs to find ways to move faster through questions and to get to more point scoring opportunities. The student that has more time at the end of the test can learn to slow down and use extra time to double check answers. It is all about how many points you can score per minute of the test. Another consideration when looking at points per minute: should you read the directions for each section on test day? By reading the directions on test day, minutes move but points do not. Instead, read the directions before the test (don’t worry, they won’t change) and get right into scoring points on test day. Since most questions allow about a minute per question (give or take depending on the section and not accounting for any testing accommodations), an ideal rate could be 1 point per minute. ACT Math, for example, is 60 questions in 60 minutes. At a 1 point per minute rate, you could achieve a perfect score. While perfection may be rare, a good goal can be to maximize your points per minute. It’s not just points, its points per minute. It takes a bit of a mindset shift to look at the SAT and ACT as a points per minute rate problem but this is the most important rate problem on the test. For SAT, ACT, SSAT, PSAT and academic support, contact CROSSWALK.