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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

Nicholas Umphrey

Upping your SAT Math scores

The SAT Math section covers through mostly Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry. There is some statistics involved as well. I am a big fan of the SAT question of the day which can be e-mailed to you daily: There is also the SAT practice test options you have on the college board website. Practice makes perfect, especially in testing. It is most helpful to review and prepare to develop an understanding of the test itself, how it works, and what questions are asking for.

Corey Fischer
President CollegeClarity

Do some basic math problems

The biggest mistakes I see students make is not brushing up. This is especially important for students who are in advanced math--they think the math section will be easy, but they find they have forgotten much of the geometry because it has been a long time since they had it. In addition, they are often rusty on their basic algebra skills. Just working through an SAT prep book for a few weeks ahead of time will get it fresh in their minds.

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

Math Section of SAT

The math section of the SAT can be the easiest section if you are a yes/no type of analytical person. Remember in math there is but one answer; unlike the subjectivity in critical reading or other liberal areas. To succeed in math study concepts; not necessarily problems. You must be very comfortable with math up to Algebra 2 and Geometry. Remember if you know the formulas and the rules that drive math you will succeed, they never change. The Quadratic Equation will always be the same, finding Area and distance will not change, the FOIL method will always work.....that is how you make math fun and understandable know the rules, and when to apply them and you cannot lose.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

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

In contrast to critical reading and to a lesser extent the writing (where the distinctive individual passage can make a difference) the math section of the SAT reflects to a large degree your mastery of the material central to a high school math curriculum, and so your course work should have provided a substantive foundation for the test. Too, effective use of the item analysis available with the PSAT results can also be very helpful. Understand what you missed and address it—whether by reviewing things you already learned or by undertaking some focused test prep work. Also, be sure that when you take the test that you go through the whole section, doing right away the things you can. You don't want to get bogged down only to have it eat up time that could have been used elsewhere. Once you have gone over it all you can go back in the remaining time to the things that you could not get to on the initial run through.

Carita Del Valle
Founder Academic Decisions

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

Absolutely! First and foremost you must practice daily. If you do not know how to do a particular concept, use the internet or your public libraries free tutoring service for a visual aid. And of course do not overlook your high school teachers. If you can go in with a specific question and not just "I don't get it" they are often more than willing to give you a quick lesson with additional problems for review.

Andrew Hill

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

The SAT Program that makes the test also publishes guides to the tests. Official Guides to prep you. Buy them. Study them. They are excellent. The SAT question of the day is another great option to slowly study for the SAT. With this said, there are other products from the collegeboard and third parties. While the third parties aren't making the test some students find these useful. Although the collegeboard's view is that it is unnecessary.