15 SAT Math Tips & Tricks – Strategies For A High Score In 2022

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Applying the right math tips and tricks for SAT

Before diving into the SAT math tips, let’s make sure we understand the format of the SAT math sections. Knowing the structure and how much time you have on each question will give you a general idea of which SAT math tricks or strategies to use. Applying the right math tips and tricks for SAT will help maximize your potential score!

Math (No Calculator) Section

20 questions (15 multiple choice and 5 grid-in)

You have 75 seconds on average to spend on each question

The first 15 questions are multiple-choice. The level of difficulty increases from easy to hard, meaning 12-15 would be the most challenging.

Questions 16-20 are grid-ins. You are required to provide a numerical answer. The level of difficulty increases from easy to hard.

Be prepared for the most difficult problems to come right before the grid-in section

Math (No Calculator) Section

38 questions (30 multiple choice and 8 grid-in)

You have 86 seconds on average to spend on each question

The first 30 questions are multiple-choice. The level of difficulty increases from easy to hard, meaning 25-30 would be the most challenging.

Questions 31-38 are grid-ins. You are required to provide a numerical answer. The level of difficulty increases from easy to hard.

Be prepared for the most difficult problems to come right before the grid-in section

Also, just knowing the SAT math tips and tricks alone may not be enough to score well on the test. Remember practice makes perfect! Doing more SAT math practice will help you get more familiar with different question types. This also gives you the opportunity to try out these SAT math tricks and decide which one is best to use.

Tip #1

Use Time wisely.

graphic describing a clock and multiple choice answers from the sat practice

Timing is very important. In general, you should spend less time on the easy ones and save more time on the harder ones.

Prioritize the questions that are easy to medium. If you’re stuck on a difficult question, make your best guess and move on.

All questions are valued equally on the SAT, so give your time and attention to the questions that you are more likely to answer correctly.

Tip #2

Look for shortcuts!

Scan through your answer choices first. Have an idea of what you are asked to do (ie, variable manipulating, solving for numerical values, writing equations, etc.)

When applicable, backsolve using one of the answer choices to plug in to see if it works.

Pick a number to plug into the variable. Now an algebra equation is simply an arithmetic equation.

Tip #3

When plugging in the answer choices, start with C

graphic showing students working with mathtowne sat tutor to increase sat test score

Planning to use the plugging in method? The SAT answer options are always ascending from least to greatest. Start by plugging in C.

If C is incorrect, and you know the answer has to be bigger, eliminate A and B

If C is incorrect, and you know the answer has to be smaller, eliminate D

Tip #4

Learn to spot the easy questions on the SAT test

The level of difficulty builds up as you progress through the test. However, this is not a steady progression. Also, every high school student is different, so what one student finds difficult, you might in fact find quite simple. 

Be mindful that the first 10 questions will likely be easier than the last 10. So budget your time accordingly.

Tip #5

Learn to spot the hard sat math problems

There is a small ‘reset’ of difficulty level at the end of the multiple-choice questions and before the start of the grid-in questions.

This means that the most difficult questions usually come right in the middle of the test. 

The difficulty usually peaks in the last few questions of the multiple-choice questions and many students waste precious time here. It might be a better option to skip ahead and get a few of the easier grid questions out of the way.  

Tip #6

Familiarize yourself with the ways the SAT may try to trick you

The difficulty of the SAT Math question may be a good indicator of whether or not to approach extra cautiously.

Most earlier questions should be relatively straightforward and you can trust that if you have arrived at an answer that is a choice, it is most likely correct.

For later, more difficult questions, approach with caution. Rather than bubbling in right away, take a moment to consider how you arrived at your answer. 

When taking the practice tests, be mindful and write down the type of traps you tend to fall for. This could help you recognize them on the test day.

Tip #7

Don’t just memorize! Make sure you understand how to use the math formulas

Just knowing the formula alone would not be enough. Knowing how to use it and when to apply those formulas are essential to scoring well on the SAT Math portion

How can you get to the correct answer without knowing exactly what the question is asking for? Treat the math terms like any other English vocabulary list. 

Review the terms and definitions. Check off the ones that you know. Flashcards are a great way to study math vocabulary. Take a look at our SAT Math Cheat Sheet and make sure you know how to apply them

Tip #8

Review math terminologies 

How can you get to the correct answer without knowing exactly what the question is asking for? Treat the math terms like any other English vocabulary list. 

Review the terms and definitions. Check off the ones that you know. Flashcards are a great way to study math vocabulary.

For later, more difficult questions, approach with caution. Rather than bubbling in right away, take a moment to consider how you arrived at your answer. 

When taking the practice tests, be mindful and write down the type of traps you tend to fall for. This could help you recognize them on the test day.

Tip #9

Timing is important, but it isn’t everything!

It is easy to fall into the trap of paying too much attention to the time. The SAT is indeed a timed test, but agonizing over how many seconds you take on each question will do more harm than good.

If you’re stuck, guess and move on. Don’t become distracted by how long you’re likely spending on a difficult question.

Tip #10

If you don’t know, don’t waste your time on it 

It’s not uncommon to come across SAT math concepts that you simply don’t remember or have never encountered before. Don’t panic, and don’t waste your time. Make the best guess you can and move on. 

Remember, all questions are valued equally! You will have a better chance on the next questions.

Tip #11

How to deal with long word problems

These questions are long and hard to comprehend. The key is to break the question down into smaller pieces of information. Underline what information is given to you, and know what you need to solve for.

Highlight any numerical values, variables (ie. k, t, x, y, etc.), and the relationship between them.

Not all information is important to finding the solution.

Identify what category the question falls under (ie. linear, percent, ratio, etc) and solve using the applicable strategy.

Tip #12

Use your graphing calculator to your advantage

Your graphing calculator is actually very powerful. In the calculator section, you can use it to solve quadratic equations and systems of linear equations without performing any algebraic operations

Make sure to practice and get familiar with your calculator before the test day

Make sure to charge your battery before the test day

Tip #13

The calculator is not needed for everything!

Using the calculator for questions that don’t require a calculator can actually slow you down. It is sometimes more important to know when NOT to use the calculator.

Just because it is the ‘Calculator Section’ does not mean you HAVE to use the calculator to solve.

Tip #14

There are questions that will waste your time! 

The SAT will purposely include problems that will require either many long steps that will take a lot of time to solve or a quick shortcut. If you cannot see the shortcut for a problem or don’t know how to solve it quickly, your best option is to skip or mark and move on.

You might be tempted to think that knowing the complex solution method is an indicator you’re on the right track. In reality, skipping or marking and moving on will probably be your best bet.

Tip #15

Do NOT apply the same SAT math tricks for multiple-choice to the grid-in questions.

The difficulty level resets in the grid-in section, with easier questions at the start of the section and harder questions toward the end. Remember this when approaching the section.

For questions with ‘one possible answer’, think about why there are multiple possible answers. If you arrive at a single answer solution, double check!

Start with an educated estimate when guessing. Make sure your guess actually makes sense.

How to get 800 on SAT MATH?

Are you confident in your content knowledge, but are finding yourself hitting a wall with your SAT Math score? Are you doing well, but find yourself unable to break the 600-750 score range? If you want to raise your score to the perfect 800, it is not impossible!

It should come as no surprise that scoring 800 on the SAT Math section is no easy feat. That is not to say it is out of your reach. With some extra help, MathTowne can definitely get you to perfection, or at the very least, very close to it. 

Get help from a tutor or mentor

Tutored students often outperform students who have only used reference books or studied on their own. Some experienced guidance may be all you need to push you over the edge. 

More often than not, it is not even a case of subject mastery, but understanding the test itself. Be sure to look into test-taking strategies or discuss them with your tutors to increase your performance.

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