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How to Improve Your SAT Math Score

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Everyone wants to reach their true potential and score as highly as possible on the SAT. And with the math section, every last point counts so it’s important to know what will help you go from a mediocre score to a great one. But before you ever start to consider doing better, you should first consider what you need to do well.

It’s a Piece of Cake

If you think of achieving high scores like a making cake, math class is the batter. First, pay attention in math class — all of your high school math classes — and make sure you understand each lesson. Obvious? Yes. Crucial? Yes.

Studying the lessons and becoming familiar with the formulas and concepts is like baking the cake. In this case, you probably can’t over bake your cake, but I’ve always found that a low temperature for a long period of time yields better results than a rushed bake job at high temps.

Those are the main two components you need to earn a decent score — or to have an edible cake that won’t give you salmonella. If you’ve worked hard throughout your high school math classes and put in the study time before the big test day, you will probably achieve a respectable score. There is, however, more you can do: frost that cake! In this case, the icing on the cake is learning SAT strategies.

The following SAT strategy tips will help you with this final step:

  • Know the layout. Just like with other sections of the SAT, the questions on the math test come at you in order of increasing difficulty; however, the sequence resets with each subsection. That means if you have a section of multiple-choice questions, and then a section of both multiple-choice questions and grid-ins, that second section will start back with easy questions and move forward into medium and hard questions. Use this knowledge to pace yourself and allow yourself the proper amount of time for all the questions.
  • Look for shortcuts. Multiple-choice questions don’t always require you to know the exact answer. Sometimes a ballpark estimate or the process of elimination is enough to identify the correct answer. This is especially true of the easy questions.
  • Work backward. When you’re presented with a math question that has simple numbers for the choices, you can sometimes start with the answers to solve it. Begin with the answer for C and plug it into the problem. If it’s not right, move to B or D, depending on if C was too high or too low (the answers are always in either ascending or descending order). You’ll have to factor in at most three answers to get the right one with this strategy.
  • Wield your calculator carefully. It’s tempting to use your trusty calculator for every problem you see, but that’s not always the fastest way to complete a question. And sometimes, it’s just not possible. Don’t waste your time typing in numbers for questions with algebra or fractions. Use caution with long strings of numbers — you may be able to simplify the equations first.

Now that you know what’s required to do well on the SAT math section — and how to make a pretty delicious cake — it’s time to crack open the books. But eventually, you’ll be ready to break out the sprinkles and enjoy the results.

Test Prep Academy is the premier SAT/ACT services company for high school students. We offer instructional programs and curriculum for students preparing for the PSAT, ACT, and SAT. Learn more about how we help prepare students for the SAT.

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