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Image from Pexels

When I was preparing for the SAT the portion that I was most intimidated by was by far the math sections, and I know that I am not alone. One of the biggest issues when it comes to the math portion of the test isn’t that students don’t know how to do the types of math that they need, but rather that they were tripped up by there being math topics that they were not expecting on the test. Luckily, there’s an easy way to avoid mid test panic: familiarize yourself with what you can actually expect on the test, and this guide is here to send you on your way!

Algebra and Functions

These questions make up about a third of the math section, and they tend to be the questions that students have a firmer grasp on, since they are topics commonly focused on in high school math classes. These types of questions will focus on topics such as exponents, systems of equations, quadratic equations, absolute values, algebraic functions, and more. One of the best ways to prepare for this section is to just go through high school algebra class packets, just to make sure its fresh in your mind.

Numbers and Operations

This is going to make up about a fourth of the math problems on the test, and consists of topics ranging from word problems, properties of integers, rational numbers, sets, counting patterns, series, and number theory. This tends to be a part of the test that majorly trips up students because although they’ve learned the material, it has not been recent enough that they can easily conjure up their knowledge of it without proper preparation. Since this is the section that’s going to rely on older information, it is where many students should be focusing on more during their test prep, since it’s going to take more than a  quick refresher to be able to ace these questions.

Geometry

These questions will make up another fourth of the questions on the test, but a lot of them is really just knowing how to use the information that they give you, as well as knowing how to use the different equations. This tends to be something most students are fairly familiar with because even though it is initially taught in late middle school or early high school, it is something that pops back up again and again in various math classes. Although topics such as area, perimeter, circumference, and volume may be very familiar, it can help to refresh yourself in topics you may not have been using recently, such as coordinate geometry, and various geometry properties such as similarity, transformations, etc.

Data Analysis, stats, and probability 

These questions make up a very, very slim portion of the test, and really just rely on your ability to read the information that they are giving you, whether it be tables, graphs, etc. You also must understand probability concepts. A lot of the time, these are skills that students are constantly using, but don’t really realize that they have a good handle on it. It can help to do practice problems just to ensure that you are able to read and understand these type of questions, as well as properly read the different information they are providing for you, since those are key in being able to solve the problems.

Student Produced Responses 

These are not so much a type of  math that you should know, but rather a type of question that you should be preparing yourself for. Personally, I didn’t realize until I started prepping for the SAT that there was actually portions of the math section where there was absolutely no option to just guess and hope for the best. This is often the section that are most difficult for students because they don’t have the security of being able to match their answer to one of the multiple choice options. The best way to prepare for these type of questions is to do a lot of them in order to build confidence in your responses. When you don’t have the security of a multiple choice question, it becomes a lot more likely for you to second guess a correct answer and change it to something incorrect.



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the author

Mollie Yacano is a freshman at Boston University studying marine science. She works in a biogeochemistry lab that studies human impact on coastal ecology, assisting with various grad student projects. Aside from being a science nerd, she is a self-diagnosed college admissions addict, and has been writing for TP almost since its inception. When she isn’t writing for The Prospect, she can be found instagramming her nail art, pretending to be witty on twitter, ranting about harmful algal blooms, and of course, wasting copious amounts of time on her personal Tumblr.

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