Five Tips To Avoid Blunders on the SAT® Math Section

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Strategizing in your studies and practice tests can help you avoid silly mistakes throughout the SAT® Math exam. It is important that you practice your time management skills, use effective tools, memorize necessary formulas, show your work, and do the easy questions first.

All of these tips should start in your practice work. The best way to avoid blunders on the SAT Math test is through practice! Here are five tips to help you improve your performance on the SAT Math test.

1. Practice Time Management

It is important to track your time throughout your practice work. Creating an understanding of the questions that take more time and questions that can be solved quickly is useful for your test-taking strategy. 

You will want to shape realistic expectations for how long each question type takes you. If you need to work on your time management skills for the Math exam, determine whether you are slowing down in the calculator section or the no calculator section. 

You can go even deeper by finding out if you are slower to solve Heart of Algebra questions, Passport to Advanced Math questions, Problem Solving and Data Analysis questions, or Additional Topics questions.

If grid-in questions tend to slow you down, you should spend time practicing your efficiency in your practice work. Avoid errors by having accurate expectations and effective strategies for your time management.

2. Practice Using Tools Effectively

You must find a calculator that is intuitive to your procedural strategies and programmed properly. Any time wasted finding the correct mode or button is entirely avoidable by taking the time to get familiar with your calculator during your practice work. 

Before test day, be sure that you know how to use your calculator for any problem in the calculator section. It is also important that you have extra batteries! You can check if your calculator is permitted by the College Board through their website. 

All scientific calculators and four-function calculators are allowed (though the latter is not recommended). Most graphing calculators are permitted, though you may not use any devices that have internet, Bluetooth, cameras, recording capabilities, or cellular access.

Any calculators with styluses or QWERTY keyboards are banned. Do not bring a device that has to be plugged in or makes noise. You must bring your own calculator on test day, and you may not share. 

To be efficient with your tools on the SAT exam, you must decide when the calculator is useful and when it slows you down. If you find yourself on autopilot throughout the calculator section, consider if the calculator is helping you or serving as a crutch.

3. Memorize Necessary Formulas

The SAT Math test will provide you with formulas for the area and circumference of a circle, the area of a rectangle, the area of a triangle, the Pythagorean theorem, traits of a special right triangle, the volume of a box, the volume of a cylinder, the volume of a sphere, the volume of a cone, and the volume of a pyramid. 

You need to memorize formulas to solve for percentages, the mean of a set of terms, average speed, probabilities, variables in the quadratic equation. You will also need to produce the equation of a line and solve for the slope of a line, the midpoint of a line, the distance between two points, the length of an arc, the area of an arc sector, and the sine, cosine, and tangent of an angle. 

Without memorizing these formulas, you will be lost throughout the Math exam. Practice memorizing and applying them throughout your test preparation!

4. Show Your Work in Your Practice Exams

This tip ties in with the need to set realistic expectations for time on your official test day. Showing your work is a crucial way to avoid mistakes and check your answers, but often students will neglect to detail their processes and strategies in their practice work. 

You can prevent big discrepancies in your time management by showing your work in your practice tests and on the test day. This skill will also benefit your ability to track errors. By showing your work for every step, you can effectively pinpoint where you went wrong when evaluating mistakes.

5. Start With the Easy Questions and Answer Everything

This last tip focuses on avoiding errors with guessing. It is important to start with the easy questions. As every question on the SAT exam is weighted equally in the scoring process, you can benefit by focusing on quantity.

Avoid the mistake of running out of time, then having to guess on the remaining questions by focusing on simple problems first, and coming back to more complicated questions later. If you get hung up on a question, skip it and come back later. 

Taking time away from simple problems is not worth it. Every question is worth the same amount, so learn to move on when complications arise. This skill takes practice, so throughout your practice tests, do your best to move on from complicated questions as soon as you recognize their effect on your pace.

You can utilize these tips throughout your practice work. As you prepare for the SAT Math test, be mindful of your time, get familiar with your calculator, learn the necessary formulas, show your work while solving and prioritize quick questions. 

Now that you have learned about the most common errors, you can apply these tips to avoid them. You can perfect these skills using UWorld’s SAT online learning tool. Our practice exams, detailed question explanations, and performance tracking tools will provide you with useful resources and valuable test-taking experience for the official SAT exam. 

Use our performance tracking tools to find your weak points and then target questions that could use the most improvement. You can use the detailed question explanations to learn from your mistakes. 

Each of these tools is designed to streamline your study plan and boost your scores. Maximize your scoring potential and try them out for yourself!

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