Breaking down the SAT math section

Preparing for the SAT math section is an important part of college prep. It is important for students to feel comfortable with the format of the math section and enter the test knowing what to expect.

The SAT math section is scored on a 200 to 800 point scale and accounts for one-third of the overall SAT score. Students are allowed 70 minutes to complete the math section and this time is broken down into one 20-minute section and two 25-minute sections.

The math section is made up of 54 questions. 44 of which are multiple choice and ten of which are grid-in questions. A grid-in question is another word for a student produced response question. The student must come up with the answer to the math problem and write their answer into a special grid.

The math section of the SAT covers basic arithmetic, geometry, and algebra I & II. It is recommended that students study functions, absolute value, sets, exponents, and radical equations, among other concepts. For many students, the SAT math section is likely to involve ideas from math courses that they took several years back in their education. For this reason, is important for students to re-familiarize themselves with these concepts throughout their SAT prep.

Trigonometry is not included in the test. Problems involving triangles can all be solved using knowledge of the Pythagorean Theorem and special right triangles. Algebra II is not included on the PSAT, but will be on the SAT. SAT practice tests are the best way to ensure that students are prepared for these questions and familiar with the overall structure of the SAT math section.

While all math problems can be completed without a calculator, it is recommended that students bring an acceptable calculator with them to the SAT. It is often best to use a familiar calculator and to use the same one that they used during their SAT practice tests. It is advisable to put fresh batteries in the calculator before the test and be sure that the calculator is working. Students are not permitted to share calculators during the test.

Acceptable calculators for the SAT math section include graphing calculators and scientific calculators. A four-function calculator is permitted, but not recommended. Students may not use the calculator on a laptop, cell phone, electronic writing pad, or pocket organizer. Also prohibited are any calculators that make noise or have a QWERTY keyboard feature. Students will be asked to put away their calculators during the critical reading and writing sections of the SAT.

A strong SAT prep program is the surest way for students to enter the SAT math section as well-prepared as possible. Students should use the scrap paper provided and not attempt to use a calculator for every question. It is best to work quickly and efficiently in order to complete each section within the allotted time.

SAT Math Section Breakdown and Tips

Every year millions of high school students take the SAT Reasoning test in a bid for acceptance by the college or university of their choice. The pressure to score well enough to get into the right school can cause tremendous stress on young men and women dedicated to seeking a higher education. In order to help you avoid this worry, we present here what you need to know about the SAT Math section and some tips to help you succeed.

The SAT Math test is comprised of three separate sections. Two of the sections are entirely multiple choice; the third section includes 8 multiple choice questions and 10 questions requiring an original response, also called “grid-in” questions for the format in which responses are recorded. On all three sections you are allowed to use a graphing calculator, and while the authors of the test recommend you use one, none of the responses requires a calculator. The SAT Math section is scored on a scale of 200-800.

Some hints to help you score your best on the SAT Math:

First, if you are unsure of the response on a multiple choice question and decide to plug in the various options to see which works, always start with the answer marked “C.” The options are arranged in ascending order according to the value of the number offered. If you plug in “C” and it is correct, you can move on. If it is too high, you can immediately eliminate “D” and “E;” if it is too low you can do the same with “A” and “B.” Thus you should, at most, only have to plug in two choices before determining the correct response. This saves valuable time and can mean the difference between leaving questions blank or responding to them all.

Second, know what is on the test so you can properly prepare. Online test prep help you with this by going over the most important areas covered. These include functional notation (and significant digits), exponents, absolute value, linear and tangent line functions and their properties as well as general number sense. Basically if you have gotten through algebra and done well enough to be considering a four year university you should be in good shape. Some refreshers from can help make sure you are in the very best shape.

Finally, just like the proctor says – always check your work! If you have time left at the end of the section, go back to the beginning to the section and check both your calculations and your marking of the answer sheet. Even better, begin by checking those questions you were most unsure about and then go back to the rest.

Whatever you do remember that no test is life-or-death and despite all the pressure you may be feeling now, as soon as you get accepted to a college you are done with this test forever and it will only come up as gossip. Keep a proper perspective and you’ll be sure to succeed!

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