The Math section of the SAT can seem intimidating, but with the right preparation, it doesn’t need to be! There are lots of proven strategies to help students prepare for standardized tests that sometimes feel overwhelming at first. With the right amount of practice and studying, you’ll be surprised at how much you know! To help you get ready and feel confident going into the test, here are 5 Tips for SAT Math Preparation:
1. Learn to Translate “Math Language”
Remember the good old days when math was only about numbers? Frequently on the SAT, you will find yourself dealing with letters, symbols, and phrases – and don’t forget those pesky word problems! But don’t let all of that intimidate you. Look past the words and translate them into algebraic equations that you’re used to solving. Since many of the questions won’t include the addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division symbols you’re used to seeing, get comfortable translating common math phrases into equations.
For example, if you see the words “more than” or “sum,” you can rest assured you’re going to be adding. If you see “difference” or “less than,” you’ll be ready to subtract. When the problem refers to “a number,” you should know that that will be your “x” for the given problem and that this is the number you’ll be trying to solve for. Being able to translate phrases into equations will speed up your thought process and help you stay focused on what is needed.
2. Plug It In
Many of the questions on the test will be multiple choice, meaning that the correct answer is right in front of you, and you just need to eliminate the other options. When dealing with multiple choice questions, sometimes the most efficient thing to do to save time and come up with the right answer is to plug in each of the possible answers and see which one works out! You won’t be able to use this strategy for every question, but it’s important to be able to recognize when it will be helpful, as it will save you valuable time.
3. Divide and Conquer
You’re probably used to hearing that it’s important on every test to answer every single question. That is not always necessarily true for the SAT. There are lots of questions, with tricky ones sprinkled in when you least expect them. If you plan to just move through the test in chronological order and not skip the ones that you find yourself spending too much time on, you might be doing yourself a disservice. With the SAT, it’s important to divide and conquer. Find the questions that you can solve easily, and answer all of those first. Then you can tackle the ones that are going to require a bit more time without leaving any easy points unclaimed.
4. Review Number Properties
One of the best things you can do for yourself leading up to Test Day is to make sure you have a solid grip on number properties and relationships. What are prime numbers? What is the order of operations? How can you tell the difference between percentages, ratios, and proportions? These are the skills you want to have in your toolbox for quick access, as they will come up frequently and you will want to have them solidly committed to memory, so you don’t have to waste too much time racking your brain.
5. Calculators or No Calculators?
Make sure you know whether your calculator is allowed on Test Day, and prepare accordingly. The official SAT website can help with this. If your calculator is allowed, make sure you’re comfortable using it and know how to find all its functions. If it’s not allowed, be sure you’re prepared to succeed without it.
Like any test, the Math SAT doesn’t need to be overwhelming as long as you’ve spent time studying and preparing. Always remember to get a good night’s sleep before the test, eat a well-balanced breakfast, and face your test with confidence!