Four Essential Math Areas To Consider for SAT Prep

Students giving SAT Exam

The SAT Math exam lasts a total of 80 minutes. You will have to complete fifty-eight questions during this time. Forty-five of those questions will be multiple-choice, and thirteen of those questions will be grid-ins. Multiple-choice questions will provide four answer choices to select from. Grid-in questions are also sometimes called student-produced responses, and these questions require that you plug in your own answer choice rather than selecting one from the given options.

You should know that the exam is broken up into two sections: one section that allows a calculator, and one section that does not allow a calculator. The calculator section of the exam includes thirty-eight questions and lasts a total of fifty-five minutes.

The no calculator section of the exam includes twenty questions and lasts a total of twenty-five minutes. You should know the calculator section of the exam assesses your skills in reading comprehension. These questions may include word problems. They will also assess your skills with algebraic concepts.

The questions on the Math exam can be broken down into three main subcategories: Heart of Algebra questions, Problem-Solving and Data Analysis questions, and Passport to Advanced Math questions. You will answer 19 Heart of Algebra questions, 17 Problem-Solving and Data Analysis questions, and 16 Passport to Advanced Math questions.

The remaining six questions on the exam fall under the category of Additional Topics in math. In this post, we will break down the four most common SAT Math question types. 

1. Heart of Algebra

The Heart of Algebra section of the SAT Math exam will cover skills in solving linear equations, graphing linear equations, solving linear inequalities, solving systems of inequalities, solving systems of equations, and determining absolute values.

In order to do well on this section of the exam, it is important that you take the time to memorize the formulas that are needed to solve these types of questions. Heart of Algebra questions will make up a total of 1/3 of the SAT Math test.

As you prepare for the SAT Math exam, it is important that you utilize your time to learn formulas you are unfamiliar with and brush up on the formulas that you have experience with. These questions make up 29% of the calculator portion of the exam and 40% of the no-calculator portion of the exam. 

2. Problem Solving and Data Analysis

The Problem-Solving and Data Analysis section of the SAT Math exam will cover your skills in solving for percentages, determining unit measurements and conversion rates, evaluating methods of data collection, and evaluating connections between a graph and multiple variables. 

They will also assess your skills to evaluate variable relationships that are represented in scatter plots or other linear, quadratic, and exponential representations. Practice determining whether an expression of two variables describes linear or exponential growth, finding ratios and rates to proportional relationships and scale drawings, and using sample data to make inferences about population parameters. You will find questions that are in the multiple-choice format and in the grid-in format. 

Problem Solving and Data Analysis questions will only come up in the calculator section of the SAT exam. These questions can be broken down into three subsections: questions that assess your quantitative reasoning skills, questions that evaluate your understanding of the relationships within graphs, and questions that test your skills to evaluate statistical information and probability models with one variable or more than one variable.

3. Passport to Advanced Math

Passport to Advanced Math questions will focus on your ability to solve quadratic functions & equations, polynomials, rational equations, systems of equations, exponential functions, exponential equations, connections between graphs and functions, functional notation, and complex equations. 

You will find these questions in both the calculator and the no calculator sections of the Math exam. This portion of the exam will also include multiple-choice questions and grid-in questions. You should also be able to evaluate, manipulate, and edit expressions. 

Lastly, you should be able to understand complex equations and translate or create functions. These questions make up 18% of the calculator portion of the exam and 45% of the no calculator portion of the exam.

4. Additional Topics in Math

This is the last of the SAT Math question types and accounts for the smallest portion of the exam. These questions are designed to test your knowledge of basic geometry, which includes – coordinate geometry, angles, area & volume, circles, triangles & polygons, and similarity or proportional reasoning. In addition to these topics, you may also encounter questions related to basic trigonometry, pythagorean theorem, and radian measure. These topics are an important part of study in the STEM fields. 

This section makes up 8% of the calculator questions and 15% of the no-calculator questions in the exam. 

Now that we’ve seen what type of Math questions are on the SAT exam, here are a few things to keep in mind while you prepare:

  • A lot of these questions are based on the high school math curriculum, so there’s a high chance you already know how to solve them. 
  • The Math exam doesn’t follow a negative marking system, so go ahead and take a shot at every question. Use the process of elimination to your advantage when you are unsure.
  • Make a facts and formula sheet. This will help you revise with ease closer to the exam date. 
  • Make sure you’re comfortable with the calculator you intend to use for the exam. Also get used to solving basic math problems without the help of a calculator. 
  • Knowing what type of Math questions are on the SAT exam is half the battle. Keep practicing sample questions of each type and identify which type needs extra work so you can plan accordingly.

The best way to prepare for the SAT Math test is through practice and experience. You can be sure that your prep work is realistic to the style and level of difficulty that you will experience on the official SAT exam by using UWorld’s SAT Prep Course

The prep course offers thousands of sample questions that are realistic to the official SAT exam. You can use these practice questions to hone your skills and learn from your mistakes. Our online prep course also includes performance tracking data, which is extremely useful for pinpointing any questions, subsections, or sections of the exam that you are struggling with. Try it out today!

Scroll to Top