SAT Math Tips

  Got any advice to help with the math section of the SAT? First, keep in mind the SAT tests basic math, algebra, and geometry.  Students do NOT need pre-cal., trig, or calculus on the SAT.  However, the test is also structured to include easy, medium, and hard questions.  The difficulty level of the questions does not correspond to the subject matter.  For example, the Algebra II concepts are not tested with harder questions than basic math concepts, even though Algebra II is a more advanced course in school.  The SAT math can take any concept and make an easy, medium, or hard question. In the SAT prep programs I’ve developed, I give students the following advice for dealing with the math section of the SAT: 1. Brush up on basic Algebra and Geometry skills.  If you don’t know the basics, you will struggle. 2. Know that SAT math sections begin with easier questions, and they become progressively harder.  If you struggle with math, you may opt to leave ALL the hard questions blank and focus your time, energy, and brainpower on the first half of the questions. 3. Unless you want to earn a score of 650+ in math, you can leave the last 10-20% of the questions blank.  These are the hardest, most time-consuming problems.  Even students attempting to earn a 600 can safely leave the hardest questions blank and focus on accurately answering the remaining problems. 4. Writing problems out will help you avoid careless errors. Don’t try to solve everything in your head!  Calculators can help, but if you don’t know what to enter in, you will be lost.  Be ready to sketch figures, write out equations, and do some writing in your booklet. 5. Remember that harder questions may not require higher-level math concepts, but often these questions involve multiple steps and the ability to avoid calculation errors.  The hardest questions frequently involve six or more steps from problem to solution.  Each step is an opportunity to make a calculation error or misstep, so take your time. Finally, don’t let your fear of math make the SAT harder than it already is.  Often a little practice and confidence can go a long way in improving your SAT math results.  ]]>

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