College PrepSATSAT Math

How To Take the SAT® Math Test

Here are some tips for the Math exam that you can practice in your studies and apply on test day to boost your confidence and results.

Know the Common Mistakes

Knowing the most common mistakes is valuable for your studies. Knowing what to avoid can help to catch any easy errors you are making in your practice exams. The first most common error is missing a step. This can be avoided by paying attention to the problems that require many steps and checking your work where possible. Another common mistake for students comes with failing to memorize crucial formulas. The SAT® test will present you with some formulas, but you will be required to memorize the necessary formula for many questions. Function questions are commonly missed because some students are not familiar with the skills that are necessary for solving them. If you aren’t familiar with solving function questions, it is a good idea to focus some of your studies on them. You should also be prepared for unusual question formats. Some problems can look complicated, and you may be tempted to jump to guessing. Gain experience with different question formats to avoid this kind of confusion. Don’t let an unusual format intimidate you from thinking through the question. You may be susceptible to errors if you aren’t reading the question carefully or if you are misusing your calculator. Be sure that you are working for the correct value, and have plenty of experience with the tools you will be using on test day. The last major source of errors for students is rushing. Find a pace that works for you, and try not to compare your progress to other students during the exam. 

Guess Strategically

Guessing can play a role in your testing strategy, and it is important to practice maximizing your accuracy in this kind of answering. The first step we recommend is finding any outliers in the answer choices. If you have an idea of what the answer should be, you may be able to eliminate answer choices that are way off from your estimate. The next important step is to become effective at eliminating answer choices. As you eliminate answer choices, your chances of guessing the correct answer go up. For example, with four answer choices, you have a 25% chance of guessing the right answer, but with three answer choices, you have a 33% chance of guessing correctly. While making guesses, it is crucial to watch out for answer choices that are designed to trip you up. If you don’t understand what the question is asking of you, you are susceptible to selecting the answer choice that is designed to play off of your confusion. The last tip for making a guess is to test your answer choice in the question. This step can check your “work” by displaying the accuracy of a guess. 

There are two sections of the SAT Math test: the calculator section and the no-calculator section. Here is a breakdown of how to work through each section. 

Tips for the Calculator Section

Half of the SAT Math test will allow you to use a calculator. We have some tips for the calculator section of the SAT exam. First, you should know that bringing a calculator is optional, but having one will be hugely beneficial for your results. As you take practice exams, monitor how dependent you are on using the calculator. Falling into a rhythm with plugging in questions to the calculator can slow you down. Use the calculator when it makes sense for time management and more complicated problems. As you practice, get comfortable using your calculator to avoid wasting time looking for the right button or mode. Lastly, you must type your inputs accurately. Be sure that you are ultraprecise as you use your calculator. 

Tips for the No-Calculator Section

You should know that the no-calculator section will rely heavily on your reading comprehension skills. Be sure that you know what each problem is asking of you, and note that the SAT exam will use confusing wordiness to challenge you. For this section of the Math test, it is important to become comfortable applying rules and skills through practice exams. You should get lots of practice with word problems in particular. Another tip for the no-calculator section is to show your work and brush up on the basic math skills that you may have grown to depend on a calculator for. Lastly, a strong understanding of the concepts in this section of the exam is crucial. The no-calculator section of the SAT exam may have more abstract questions, and a more in-depth understanding of how to solve each problem will benefit you.

You can practice taking the Math section of the SAT exam through UWorld’s SAT Prep Course. The course contains thousands of practice problems with detailed explanations to gain experience and learn from your mistakes. You can use the prep course to improve your weak points, get experience with your calculator, avoid common mistakes, and learn to guess effectively. Try it out to boost your results in the Math section of the SAT exam!