SAT Math

5 Must-Know SAT Math Tips

Your SAT Test Day is approaching, and you need SAT Math tips and strategies to maximize your score. Remember that your SAT Math subscores will reflect how you perform on specific questions tied to The Heart of Algebra, Passport to Advanced Math, and Problem Solving and Data Analysis concepts.  

SAT Math Tip #1: Use this approach to answer every SAT math question 

Step 1: Read the question, identifying and organizing important information as you go

• What information am I given?

• Separate the question from the context.

• How are the answer choices different?

• Should I label or draw a diagram? 

Step 2: Choose the best strategy to answer the SAT Math question

• Look for Patterns.

• Pick numbers or use straightforward math.

Step 3: Check that you answered the right question

• Review the question stem.

• Check units of measurement.

• Double-check your work.

SAT Math Tip #2: Use this method for multi-part Math questions

Step 1: Read the first question in the set, looking for clues.

Step 2: Identify and organize the information you need.

Step 3: Based on what you know, plan your steps to navigate the first question.

Step 4: Solve, step-by-step, checking units as you go.

Step 5: Did I answer the right question?

Step 6: Repeat for remaining questions, incorporating results from the previous question if possible. 

SAT Math Tip #3: Translate words into math

Translate the words in the question into math so you can solve.

SAT Math Tip #4: Review number properties and SAT math relationships

Recognizing number properties will save you time on Test Day. Number properties rules include odds and evens, prime numbers, and the order of operations. You can pick numbers to help you remember the rules.

For SAT math relationships, knowing the difference between ratios, proportions, and percents can save valuable time. Being able to move easily among percents, fractions, and decimals will also save time. 

SAT Math Tip #5: Make sure your calculator is allowed and bring it with you on Test Day. 

Check the official SAT website to make sure the calculator you plan to use on the SAT math section is allowed.

 

Contact us to learn how we can help increase your SAT math score! 

SAT Math Overview

Format
58 total questions
25-minute no-calculator section (20 questions)
55-minute calculator section (38 questions)
Contains multiple-choice and grid-in questions

Content
Problem Solving and Data Analysis (19 questions) sample topics: percents, proportions, and statistics
Heart of Algebra (17 questions) sample topics: algebraic equations, systems of equations, graphs of linear equations, and linear models
Passport to Advanced Math (16 questions) sample topics: functions, quadratic equations, and polynomials
Additional Topics in Math (6 questions) sample topics: angles, triangles, circles, trigonometry, and complex numbers

Tips

  • Put time and energy into questions within your capabilities.
  • Don’t waste time on a hard question when there are still easier questions left to answer.
  • Be sure to check your answers on harder questions. Suspect an answer that comes a little too easily.
  • In each math section, consider doing the first few grid-ins prior to doing the last few multiple-choice questions.
  • The questions on the calculator section are usually more complex than the ones on the no-calculator section.

Scoring
You’ll receive a math section score on a 200-800 point scale. Also, you'll receive a second math section score, but weighted on a 10-40 scale. There are three math subscores: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Passport to Advanced Math. The three math subscores will be reported to you on a 1-15 scale for each. Additionally, some math questions will count towards a cross-test score. There are two reported cross-test scores, one for Analysis in Science and one for Analysis in History/Social Studies.

Your score is calculated using the following: 1 raw point for a correct answer. There is no penalty for answering incorrectly, so you should answer every question on the SAT. Your raw score is calculated by adding up your raw points. Your raw score is converted to a scale math test score from 10-40. The score you receive on the 10-40 scale is converted to a math section score from 200-800.
 
Tackling SAT Grid-In Questions
13 of the 58 math questions are grid-ins. There are 5 at the end of the no-calculator section and 8 at the end of the calculator allowed section.

  • Grid-in questions are like multiple-choice questions, but they do not contain multiple-choice answers to choose from.
  • Grid-in questions progress in level of difficulty. The first grid-in question will be much easier than the last grid-in question. For some students, it is best to answer the grid-in questions first before attempting the most difficult multiple-choice questions.
  • You should always write your answers in the boxes even though you only receive credit for bubbling in the ovals.
  • Start gridding in the far-left column first.
  • Grid-in questions will never have negative numbers as answers.
  • You should grid-in mixed numbers as improper fractions or decimals.
  • If you grid-in an answer as a decimal, you should do so with the highest degree of accuracy possible. For example, an answer of 0.6666 should be gridded as .666 or .667 or 2/3. If you gridded .66 or .67 your answer will be marked incorrect.
  • You may find that some grid-in questions have more than one answer. You need to grid-in just one of the correct answers.
  • Always check your work. With the grid-in questions, there are no answer choices provided to check against your answer. Be sure to check your work before filling in your answer.

Contact us to learn more about our SAT prep program! 

FREE College Planning & SAT Prep Workshops

For Parents and Students

Your College Planning Coach and Vint Hill Educational Services will hold workshops on Saturday, April 1st (Richmond VA) and Saturday, April 29th (Manassas Park VA), from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Both parents and students are welcome to attend. The parent workshop will go over college planning information. The student workshop will focus on SAT prep for the math and reading/writing sections. 

FREE Parent Workshop
- Help with scholarships and financial aid
- When to start planning for college
- How school selection can save you money
- Proven tools to guide career and school choice
- How to navigate through the application process
- And much more!

FREE Student Workshop
- Learn SAT tips, tricks, and strategies
- Understand the SAT format, timing, and structure
- Introduction to the SAT math, SAT reading, and SAT writing sections
- Work through sample problems with the teacher
- Comparison to ACT

Registration
Online: Manassas VA - http://tinyurl.com/znnv47d  Richmond VA -  https://tinyurl.com/hs44xhh
Phone: 703-928-9036 / 540-428-5379
Email: luanne@yourcollegeplanningcoach.com / michael@vinthilles.com 

New SAT Math Strategies

1.    Focus on a single question – Take it easy and relax. Don’t worry about the next 20 questions. You may feel the need to rush and that’s normal. If you’re patient, you will work faster and produce better results. 

2.    Utilize a two-pass approach – Answer all questions that you can on your first pass through. Each question is weighted the same point. Don’t let one question eat up your time. Circle the question and move on to the next. Tip: The first set of grid-in questions is easier than the last handful of multiple-choice questions. If you’re having trouble, go ahead and skip to the grid-in questions. On your second pass, go back to the first question you circled. Use everything in your math toolbox. Answer the ones that you’re most comfortable with first. Within the last 30 seconds, answer the remaining multiple-choice questions and write down an answer for the grid-in questions. Remember, there is no point deduction for incorrect answers! 

3.    Use the process of elimination – Look to eliminate answer choices and you’ll have a better chance in getting the question correct. Consider values in the problem and use logic to your advantage. 

4.    Draw in your test book – Test booklets include extra white space. Use the space around the problem and to the sides. Write down steps, draw a chart, label the sides of shapes, and strike out incorrect answers. You can even rewrite important numbers or phrases. This helps reduce careless mistakes and justifies answers. 

5.    Don’t erase computations in your test book – This is a waste of time. Just cross out calculations that you no longer want to consider. This is faster than trying to erase with your pencil, especially if you’ve written out a lengthy formula.

6.    Information that is irrelevant – On occasion, you’ll find that a certain SAT math question contains information that is not required. This piece of information doesn’t have anything to do with solving the problem. This can make students second guess themselves. If you’ve solved the problem without using the piece of information in question; chances are that you’ve solved the problem correctly. Put a star or X next to information that may not be required.  

7.    Re-check your work, but do it efficiently – Perform a quick spot check after each section. It’s better to do this at the end of each problem then at the end of the entire section. The SAT contains “attractor answers” that lure students into picking a false answer. They seem correct to the student because the student doesn’t fully understand the problem. Tip: Use your calculator to verify the answer. Plug in the answer to see if it fits into the equation. Make sure you answered the question completely and not just a step in finding the correct answer. 

8.    Turn algebraic expressions into solid numbers – Most of the SAT math problems can be solved by picking select numbers for certain variables. It’s useful to know what types of questions can be solved this way. This approach works well with problems where the answers are variables. When you pick your own numbers, you’ll be able to turn algebraic expressions into solid numbers. For example, a problem that involves minutes or seconds, try utilizing the number 60.  

9.    Plug in answer choices – Plugging in numbers is a useful SAT math strategy. Try solving a problem in the reverse direction, by plugging in the provided answer choices. Doing so, will help tackle the more difficult questions. Plugging in is also beneficial on word problems. 

10.    Don’t forget about your calculator – Your calculator is only allowed on one of the two SAT math sections. About half of the questions on the calculator allowed section really require one. The calculator will find graphing points for you and take care of fractions. The best calculators approved by the College Board will let you compute trigonometric functions and setup graphing plots. Check the College Board website calculator policy section for more details. 

11.    Grid-in questions – There are 13 total grid-in questions on the redesigned SAT. Grid-in questions progress from easy to difficult. Students should always answer the easier grid-ins before attempting the more difficult grid-ins. Make sure the "ovals" are filled in correctly. Grid-in answers will never be a negative number. Some grid-in questions have more than one correct answer. The student must enter in mixed numbers as improper fractions or decimals. Always start with the far left grid-in column! 

Contact us to start your customized prep program today!