The SAT can take you further in your pursuit of higher education or even for job prospects. The math section tends to be the one segment that causes many students to pause and get a little nervous. To ensure a solid score, prepare for the test beforehand and study what is expected to be tested on the SAT.
The math on the SAT includes algebra, geometry, data interpretation from tables and graphs, solving equations and problem solving. Online practice tests can familiarize students with the test and help them understand their weaknesses and strengths.
The SAT at a Glance
The SAT is made of three main parts and an optional 50-minute essay. The math test on the SAT is split into two parts: a no-calculator section and a lengthier section where a calculator can be used. The math test contains a total of 58 questions. It is timed at 80 minutes with a short break between the first and second parts. The entire SAT test has an allotted time of 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete.
Types of Math on the SAT
A major part of the SAT math section centers around algebra. You can use a calculator for part of the test but not all of the test. An SAT formula sheet for the geometry section includes the number of degrees of arc in a circle, radians of arc in a circle, the sum of the measures in degrees of the angles of a triangle and other useful information. Try to memorize this information that will be provided on the SAT reference sheet. Otherwise, you may waste time looking up the information needed to solve basic geometry problems on the test.
If geometry is not your strong suit, don’t spend too much time worrying about your ability in that math department. Geometry only makes up a small portion of the SAT math segment. Other areas covered include trigonometry, problems with complex numbers, data interpretation from graphs and tables and solving equations. An online practice test can help you get comfortable with the test-taking process and become more familiar with the basic types of math on the SAT.
Math Section Breakdown
The first part of the SAT math section takes 25 minutes. You may not use a calculator during this part of the test. There will be 15 multiple-choice questions with four answers, one of which is the correct answer. You will also be asked for a student-produced response, or a grid-in. These grid-ins relate to each other as part of an extended-thinking question on the SAT.
You will be allowed to take a short break before the longer and larger section. The following 55-minute section is more intense. You can use a calculator during this longer section, which will also include multiple-choice questions. In this longer section, there will be 8 grid-ins. The 30 multiple choice questions will offer four answers, one of which will be correct.
Approved Calculators at Testing
When taking the SAT, a calculator can be used on the second part of the math section only. Qualifying calculators include most graphing calculators, all scientific calculators and all four-function calculators, though four-function calculators are not recommended. Any other type of calculator will be confiscated until after the test is complete. A calculator may not be shared among students. The calculator must be put away for all other sections of the SAT, including the reading and writing portion. Before entering the testing area, make sure the calculator has fresh batteries or have backup batteries handy just in case.
SAT Tips for Students
Aside from studying the types of math that will be on the SAT, take time to research the other sections to ensure a solid score. Be sure to prepare for the test by studying what is expected to be on the test. There are many online SAT practice tests that are free to take. This will familiarize you with how the test is formatted as well as what areas the SAT covers, and it will shore up your confidence. The SAT test can be retaken up to 10 times a year. Most college admissions officers will accept the highest score from the times that the SAT was completed.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.