Five concerns of English/Language Arts people and why you shouldn't worry.
If you're sweating the math section, grab that towel, because we've got you covered.
Concern #1: Math is so broad—where should I start and what should I study?
For someone stronger in the language arts, it can be daunting TO prep for the SAT math section because there are simply so many topics to cover. If you’re completely lost, here’s where we recommend to start:
Kick things off with algebra, and make sure that you’re very confident in the algebraic skills the SAT will test. This includes solving and graphing linear equations with one or two variables, identifying equations of lines on a graph, solving linear inequalities, interpreting linear functions, etc. You’ll get sick of the word linear prepping for this section, but channel the nausea into a perfect score and make us proud, Shmoop reader.
Once your algebra is up to speed, focus on ratios, rates, proportions, and percents. Many of these questions are taken from the Problem Solving and Data Analysis domain. You should be comfortable using the above to solve single and multi-step problems, like determining a unit conversion to solve a unit rate word problem.
After you’re comfortable with the above, continue into statistics and become comfortable with mean, median, mode, range, and the other fundamentals of statistical analysis. You should be able to use statistics to compare two different sets of data and be comfortable calculating standard deviations.
Lastly, review more advanced topics like quadratic and exponential functions, solving quadratic equations, working with polynomial expressions, solving systems with one linear equation or one quadratic equation, using and interpreting function notation, etc.
Concern #2: I'm not in the advanced math class, so I haven’t studied calculus or advanced statistics yet.
Great news for you! The SAT math section won’t contain questions that cover calculus or advanced statistics.
Everything you see on the exam will come from mathematical concepts taught before calculus. The SAT is much more interested in testing the foundational skills of math as opposed to the most advanced topics a high schooler might know.
Math is cumulative, so make sure that you’re confident tackling the easier SAT math questions before you start practicing the things you aren’t as confident on.
Concern #3: I’m not good at math without a calculator.
Throw away that crutch—you're actually more likely to make a typo and to slip up when you turn to your calculator, because it's easy to drop a number or two and make a careless mistake when you're shifting from the page to the calculator.
The only way you'll get used to catching your careless mistakes is if you start writing down all your steps and seeing where you go wrong. The calculator swallows those mistakes whole and gives you no insight into the process.
Concern #4: I am no good at remembering formulas.
More good news! Thankfully, the SAT math section won’t require you to have a list of geometrical formulas memorized. There will be a reference section in the directions that contains many of the formulas you’ll need.
But what formulas do you need to have memorized? It's a good idea to memorize the following formuals:
- The quadratic equation
- Standard formula and point-slope formula for a line the formula for the slope of a line
- How to calculate percentage & percent change
- How to calculate an average
Concern #5: I am too slow to finish the math section.
The math section gets harder as you progress through the multiple-choice questionS, so focus on the easier questions which you have a harder time getting right.
If you know you'll be pressed for time, skip the last few multiple-choice questions before you get to the grid-in questions.
You can guess on these multiple-choice questions and then spend your time working on the grid-in questions, which you won't be able to guess on.