There are four types of questions within the Heart of Algebra subsection of the SAT® Math test: linear equation questions, linear inequality questions, linear function questions, and graphing questions. Here is a breakdown of each question type, followed by some tips to help you study and prepare for this subsection of the SAT Math test.
- Linear equation questions will ask you to assess and produce linear equations. You will be required to solve for variables within linear equations. Some linear equation questions will ask you to solve for more than one variable within a system of equations. You may be asked to select an equation that makes sense for a real-world example. You may also be asked to choose a system of equations that makes sense for real-world variables.
- Linear inequality questions will ask you to interpret and construct linear inequalities. Interpreting a linear inequality may require you to find possible values or variables that accurately fit the inequality. You may also be asked to simplify the structure of a linear inequality. You will find questions that ask you to solve for variables within systems of linear inequalities as well.
- Linear function questions will ask you to evaluate and produce linear functions. This means that you will need to assess possible functions that reflect a given real-world example.
- Graphing questions assess skills like understanding relationships between graphs and expressions, graphing equations, solving how many (x,y) solutions a system of equations has, finding the linear equation representing a graphed line, and calculating slope.
As you prepare for the SAT Math exam, consider these strategies for the Heart of Algebra questions
1) Practice complicated problems that have many steps
If you come to a problem on test day that requires many more steps than you expect or are used to, it is easy to get overwhelmed. In your practice work, be sure that you build up your confidence with these questions. You must show your work and work slowly to avoid silly mistakes. Detailing the process you use to arrive at your answer provides a record for you to go back to when checking your work.
If you finish the problem, and your answer does not match any of the answer choices, you may not have to start over completely! Save yourself some stress by showing your work, tracking the exact step you missed or errored on, and making your correction. Take your time showing your work. It will be worth it!
2) Check your work
What is great about algebra questions is that you can often check your work very effectively by plugging your variable or value directly into the equation, inequality, or function in question.
You don’t need to do this for every question, but you can strategize by marking the questions you are unsure of or guess on. If you have time at the end, you can come back to these questions first.
3) Formulas are the foundation for many problems
Memorizing the formulas necessary for linear equations, linear functions, linear inequalities, and graphs is crucial for Heart of Algebra questions.
- You need to memorize how to solve and evaluate linear expressions, linear equations, and linear inequalities.
- You also need to memorize the steps to create a linear function that shows a linear relationship between two variables. Formulas for solving and evaluating systems of linear inequalities and systems of two linear equations are necessary as well. Pay attention to the formulas that are necessary to solve linear equations that require multiple steps.
- You will have to evaluate connections or real-life relationships between variables and constants in expressions for linear functions and make connections between graphs and linear equations. Memorize the formulas for slope and slope-intercept, and practice the formulas necessary for deciphering a graph’s characteristics, like the slope of a line or the(x,y)solutions.
Heart of Algebra questions will range significantly in style and format. As you study, prepare for questions that ask you to do more than just solve for a variable.
- You should be able to interpret connections between a graph and an expression.
- You should also be very comfortable translating a real-world circumstance into an equation, inequality, function, or linear graph.
You can gain reliable and accurate experience with the Heart of Algebra questions through UWorld’s SAT Prep Course. The performance tracking tools provided in the course will help you understand your strengths and weaknesses.
The course also offers question explanations to guide your understanding and learn from your mistakes. As you study, evaluate the formulas you need to work on, and spend time getting comfortable with complicated, multi-step questions. Try the prep course out to boost your scores in the Math section of the SAT exam!