The SAT can be a very daunting experience. Everyone is aware of the importance of the test, as it has an influence on where, or if you will go to college. The good news is that there are ways to assure that you do well on the test. Some are strategies that are general to all tests, while others are specific to the math section of the SAT.
Find Resources. Start by getting an SAT prep book from your library or bookstore. Older editions often cover the same things as newer ones for a fraction of the cost. Also, there are many free practice tests available online.
Identify Your Weaknesses. Take a practice SAT test to find out which areas of the math section you need improvement on. Doing a practice test online (collegeboard.org) will allow you to quickly see which areas you excel at and which ones need improvement.
The four main areas are:
- number operations
- algebra and functions
- geometry and measurement
- data analysis, statistics and probability
Make a Study Plan. Make a study schedule that includes what sections you will study as well as your goals. Break it down into how many hours you want to spend on each section, allowing time for practice tests as well.
When setting your goals be realistic. You want to set a high, but attainable goal. This will help you stay motivated and ensure you are happy with your result.
Study! You want to start studying as early as possible. Although the math that you see on the SAT is all stuff you have seen before, you will not be able to comprehend everything simply cramming the night before. Try to start studying at least a few weeks in advance.
- When studying, make sure there are no distractions. You want to make sure you are making the most of your limited study time.
- Try to study at the same time of day as your test. This will help prepare your mind and body to be most alert.
- Do mock tests with a stopwatch to simulate the test experience.
- Spend additional time improving your weaknesses
Know the Test. The math section is structured as follows:
- 2 types of questions (44 multiple choice, 10 others)
- Questions get progressively harder within the section.
- Score 1 point for a correct answer, score nothing for omissions and lose 1/5 point for incorrect answers.
- Make sure you have a few reliable #2 pencils (not pens).
- Bring a calculator that is reliable and that you are familiar with. You don't want to waste time trying to learn where certain keys are. Even if you don't think you won't use it, it is a good idea to bring it just in case.
- If you can eliminate at least one wrong answer, guess! Since only 1/5 point is docked for wrong answers, statistically, you will receive a higher score by guessing, as long as you can eliminate one answer with certainty.
- Answers are arranged in numerical order with A being the smallest value and E being the largest. If you are using a guess and check method, start with C, so that you will know if the real answer is higher or lower than that. This will leave you valuable time and energy.
- The questions at the end of the section are harder than the ones at the beginning, so save the difficult ones only after you have spent ample time on the early ones.
- The section order will not change, so do not bother to read the instructions. By test time you should know the instructions well, so reading them is just a waste of time and energy.
- If you are struggling on a question, don't panic. Take a few deep breaths, stretch, relax your body and then when you are ready, get back into focus. Staying relaxed is essential in helping your mind function at full capacity.