Some questions involve being able to quickly divide one number by another. Of course, the SAT is not really testing your ability to do long division, although you are welcome to use long division in a jam. If you tried to crunch through all of the questions on the SAT the normal (i.e., hard) way, you would run out of time. The SAT is deliberately designed to reward you for some advanced reasoning on the math portion instead of brute force.
This module is an overview of the SAT math section. Other modules in the TestSherpa Free SAT Prep Lab will cover these topics in much greater detail. You will be entirely familiar with the SAT math section – overviews, test taking techniques, scoring strategies and of course, essential math concepts. In fact, after taking the TestSherpa SAT preparation course, you may know more about math than anyone in your class. Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone what a math geek you will become.
This is the first in a series of articles in our SAT Math Overview. The series includes:
- SAT Math Overview: an introduction
- SAT Math Timing
- The Real Trick to SAT Math
- SAT Math Calculator Policy
Here’s a basic breakdown of the SAT Math Section:
- Two question types
- Three timed sections
- Four major math topics
What is on the new SAT Math section?
The SAT testmakers made four main tweaks to the new SAT Math section.
1. The new Math section is more difficult than before. We’re not telling you that just to stimulate your interest in studying harder for the SAT – it’s the truth. Most of the increased difficulty comes from the fact that the new SAT Math section now includes concepts covered in a typical Algebra II course. That’s good news if you loved Algebra II, but for the other 99% of you it means you need to study up and sharpen your pencils.
2. There are fewer questions on the New SAT Math section. That makes up for the increase in difficulty, but it also gives you fewer raw points to work with. What was the benefit of having more questions? With more questions the effect of a wrong answer had a lower impact on your overall score. The upshot is that each question has a larger affect on your overall score than ever before. That shouldn’t discourage you from making good guesses when the odds are in your favor.
3. The entire SAT Math section is five minutes shorter. Not a lot, but it will help with your stamina on test day.
4. You no longer have to answer the Quantitative Comparison questions. If your tutor, advisor, study materials or high-priced test prep company is teaching you those questions, they are wasting your time.
Overall, the section is not really much harder than it was in the past. You have probably seen these concepts in your high school classes and if not, we’ll teach them to you in our lab. The four big concepts include:
- Numbers and operations
- Statistics, how to analyze data and working with probability
You will get questions about the above concepts in three timed sections that include two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section. Each section is presented in order of difficulty. As you’re practicing and taking the test, mentally divide each section roughly in thirds. The first third is the least difficult, the second third is harder and the last third is the hardest. The reason for thinking about the section in thirds is that different questions seem harder or easier to different students. If question 8 is about circles and you hate geometry, you might skip it for now and answer question 9. But in general, try to get the easy questions out of the way early while you have time to get the most points.
Next are our suggestions for SAT Math Timing.