I eventually came up with a theory of careless errors, the details of which I've forgotten at the moment. I do recall that it had to do with working memory. Arguably the SAT tests working memory above all: all 10 sections put you into working memory blowout. I experienced working memory blowout so often that I began to notice a connection. As far as I can tell, you make more careless errors when your working memory is overtaxed (and you hit the limits of working memory much more quickly when you're sleep-deprived or overheated).
I've just come across a new study that I think confirms my subjective experience:
This study resolves two long-standing debates in the field. Does our working memory function like slots, and after our four slots [emphasis added] are filled with objects we cannot take in any more; or does it function like a pool that can accept more than four objects, but as the pool fills the information about each object gets thinner? And is the capacity limit a failure of perception, or of memory? [emphasis added]Failures of working memory are failures of perception!
“Our study shows that both the slot and pool models are true,” says Miller. “The two hemispheres of the visual brain work like slots, but within each slot, it’s a pool. We also found that the bottleneck is not in the remembering, it is in the perceiving.” [emphasis added] That is, when the capacity for each slot is exceeded, the information does not get encoded very well. The neural recordings showed information about the objects being lost even as the monkeys were viewing them, not later as they were remembering what they had seen.
Picower: 1 Skull + 2 Brains = 4 Objects in Mind
Subjectively, that's what I experienced taking practice sections; that's what it felt like. Once I hit a certain level of tiredness, or heat, or working memory blow-out, I stopped being able to read.
The same thing happens on the reading and writing sections, too. The reading and writing sections are so taxing that you reach points where you simply cannot take in what the sentence or paragraph before you says. * I'm not talking about losing the ability to answer questions about the sentence or paragraph.
I'm talking about losing the ability just to read the words on the page.
I'm a 10
rat psych: what to do about SAT math (part 1)
rat psych: what to do about SAT math (part 2)
rat psych: what to do about SAT math (part 3)
rat psych: careless reading errors on the SAT
* I say "you" because I know I am not alone in this.