College PrepSATSAT Math

How To Avoid Careless Mistakes on the SAT® Math Test

Knowing the most common mistakes students make on the SATⓇ Math test can shape your expectations and help you prepare. Here is a breakdown of the common errors and some tips on how to avoid them. Some mistakes stem from studying errors and others occur through testing errors.

Studying Slip-Ups

Memorizing Formulas

The SAT exam will provide you with some formulas, but you will need to memorize many others to do well on the Math test. There are some problems you will not be able to solve without memorizing the proper formula. Be sure to dedicate some time studying and memorizing formulas. 

Function Questions

While most math questions align with your high school curriculum, there may be an exception with function questions. Many students are not familiar with functions. These questions aren’t particularly difficult, but they can be intimidating if you haven’t worked through them before. You can get some practice with function questions through UWorld’s SAT Prep Course. The course will provide detailed explanations to guide your studies with this question type. Experience is critical, so be sure that you (at least) know the basics and get some practice.

Errors on Test Day

Guessing 

Don’t let an unusual question format intimidate you. Sometimes, the SAT test will try to deter you from a simple question by complicating its design. Don’t jump straight to guessing! Find out what you are solving for, the information you need to get an answer, and the necessary steps for solving. You can get some experience with the various formats by taking multiple practice exams. 

Rushing 

It is essential to find the pace that works for you for the SAT Math exam. Through your practice exams, you should have an idea of how long each question takes. You should also have a plan for the method that works best for you for each question type. A good way to make time for more challenging questions is to get the more straightforward questions done first. The exam is set up so that the questions progress from easy to difficult. You want to have as much time as possible for the more difficult problems, so pay attention to the formats and questions that require more time. 

Calculator Errors

Rushing can result in errors with calculator use. Mistyping or plugging in the wrong information is a simple and avoidable error. Be sure that you are precise and check your work. 

Misreading the Question

Make sure that you read the question carefully to understand what is being asked. The SAT exam will test your reading comprehension by providing wordy and confusing questions or answer choices. If you are struggling to understand what is being asked of you, slow down and break the question, formula, inequality, or word problem into simpler terms. 

Missing a Step

Showing your work is crucial to ensure that you do not miss a step on complicated problems. With more detailed questions, more steps are necessary, and you have more room for errors. Pay special attention to the multi-step problems in the No-Calculator section of the exam: missing a step in this part of the Math test can be harder to catch.

You can practice these strategies and tips for tricky questions in the Math test using UWorld’s SAT Prep course. Our practice exams, detailed question explanations, and performance tracking tools can provide you with valuable experience for test day. You can also find out more about your weak points through these resources.