You have a much better chance of getting a good SAT math score if you know what to expect. Focusing your study time on what will be included in the math sections of the SAT (without wasting your time with things that definitely won't) is key to your success.

The SAT covers math up to and including the first semester of Algebra II. Here's how the College Board — the team of exalted creators of the SAT — describes the breakdown of the test:

  • Numbers and operations (20–25%)

  • Algebra and functions (35–40%)

  • Geometry and measurement (25–30%)

  • Data analysis, statistics, and probability (10–15%)

Almost as important as knowing which math topics are covered on the SAT is knowing the topics you can safely avoid. Here's a list of math skills that you don't need for the SAT:

  • Doing big number-crunching — large numbers or endless calculations

  • Writing geometry proofs

  • Using the quadratic formula (you can solve any quadratic equation on the SAT by factoring or plugging in numbers)

  • Working with imaginary numbers, the square roots of negative numbers

  • Doing trigonometry or calculus