Got any advice to help with the math section of the SAT?


Our counselors answered:

Got any advice to help with the math section of the SAT?

Wendy Smith

Got any advice to help with the math section of the SAT?

You won't need an advanced calculator. One of the nice (or not so nice, depending on how you look at it) things about the SAT math section is that you have to rely on your own abilities in order to do well. In other words, not even the biggest, baddest calculator in the world will save you if you don't know your stuff. The content on the SAT is relatively simple (nothing beyond algebra and geometry) and you could very well tackle the test without a calculator. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to have a simple one (a stripped-down four-function one is fine) to check your basic calculations. After all, a simple arithmetic error could cost you the right answer!

Dawn Smith

Got any advice to help with the math section of the SAT?

The numbers themselves will be easy to deal with and there won't be any super-hard calculations. You're more likely to be asked to add 3 + 4 than to multiply 3.657 x 47.5968 or something ridiculous like that. What makes the SAT math section challenging is the way in which you are asked to synthesize information in unique ways. The hardest SAT math questions require you to draw upon knowledge from several areas at once. For example, you might be asked about special right triangles and circumference in the same problem.

Robin Smith

Got any advice to help with the math section of the SAT?

There’s no shame in writing out your work! You're allowed to write in your test booklet, so you might as well use it. Trying to do everything in your head is the surest way to make a silly mistake. It’s especially dangerous since there's no partial credit on the SAT. It’s always better to take a moment and do the work by hand, so you know you'll get the right numbers. Writing out your work is also a great thing to do if you get stuck on a problem. Write down all the information given to you in the question and see if you might have missed something along the way.

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

Got any advice to help with the math section of the SAT?

Yes: the best way to do well in math is to take as many practice questions as possible with original College Board or ACT materials. Students learn to recognize the pet areas of the test makers (e.g., functions and certain geometric shapes). There so often is more than one way to come to the correct answer, and students who prep well know that way before taking the actual test. If the student has his or her actual PSAT or earlier SAT book or report, he can identify which types of questions tend to be troublesome and seek help on how to tackle those questions when the time comes. I always recommend to students to practice for quality over time and, on the actual test, check work carefully if time allows. Sometimes the brightest math students make the silliest errors by doing work in their heads or misreading the questions.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

understand your own stregths and weakness

other than a lot of practice exams, you should consider to work with a experienced tutor one on one to improve test score within a short period of time.

Megan Dorsey
SAT Prep & College Advisor College Prep LLC

Understand the Test and Know Your Content

In the SAT prep programs I’ve developed, I always advise: 1. Brush up on basic Algebra and Geometry skills. 2. Know that SAT math sections begin with easier questions, and they become progressively harder. 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. 4. Writing problems out will help you avoid careless errors. Don’t try to solve everything in your head! 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.

Alan Sheptin
Owner Sheptin Tutoring Group, LLC

Alan Sheptin, Sheptin Tutoring Group, LLC

This is my specialty! I tell students to do a progressive training on the Math: 1. Get the College Board SAT book, so that you have 10 tests to complete. On, there is another test that you can do. So you have 11 tests in all. 2. Do the first test completely untimed. Just get the experience of taking the test, and grade it. For each additional test, continue to take time away. So, do the second test with 60 percent more time, the third test with 40 percent more time, the 4th with 20 percent more time, and the 5th and later at full time. 3. Note trends in how you do: do you consistently answer the hardest questions wrong? If so, you may want to purchase a book such as SAT 2400, that focuses on the hardest questions on the test. Or, get some one on one help for those questions. 4. Learn some of the tricks of the test: picking numbers, backsolving, visualization. Of course, I would be happy to help you. Look at my profile on what I can do to work with you. Alan Sheptin

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Skills Insight is Great

Check out the College Board's Skills Insight tool. You can examine the skill areas necessary to earn scores in your desired range. Once you assess your areas of improvement, spend time reviewing the concepts and attempting practice questions for that skill area.

Jessica Brondo
Founder and CEO The Edge in College Prep

Got any advice to help with the math section of the SAT?

1. Time management is important: remember that easy questions are worth just as much as hard ones and the more questions you answer correctly, the better your score will be. 2. Use Whatcha Got: if you can’t correctly solve the problem, look at the answers and try to insert them into the problem. While this may not always give you an answer it helps to eliminate wrong answer choices. 3. Know when to use your calculator: very few of the SAT math problems truly require a calculator so don’t get caught up trying to solve every question with it.

Brian D. Crisp
Founder and President Crisp Consulting + Coaching; Burton College Tours

Great Grammar Makes Great Math

Nothing strikes fear into a human being more than rabid vampires and math. In fact, after typing that sentence I am sure my 9th-grade algebra teacher was a vampire. Blood-letting aside, the SAT polynomials are as harmless as the Twilight vampires. There will be three math components of the SAT. Two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section covering math operations covered through the 9th-grade math curriculum: algebra, data analysis, geometry, numbers and operations, probability, and statistics. As with all questions on the SAT, the first questions will be the most simple and grow in complexity. The fangs of math will quickly retract with a favorite strategy of Crisp Consulting + Coaching: Words Count. Knowing how the grammar of word problems implies a function will help you save time and find the best-fitting answer: of = multiply exceeds by =subtract/add greater than = subtract/add more/of = percentage Knowing the function will assist you in eliminating answers and improving your math score.