How to Get Through the Math Section of the SAT

By Geraldine Woods, Ron Woldoff

Part of SAT For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When it comes to the SAT, the challenge isn’t just working the math: It’s also answering all the questions in the time that you’re given! With less than 90 seconds per math question, you had better have these strategies in place to get the questions right and done on time.

  • Look for the underlying trick or pattern based on the logic of the math concept. If you find yourself doing a lot of number crunching, you missed the point of the question.

  • If you’re stuck on a question, circle the question number (in your test booklet, NOT the bubble sheet), take a guess, and come back to it at the end. (The exception being the calculator section’s last question, which is worth 4 points. That question will take more than two minutes.)

  • Trust your ability to work simple math. You don’t need the calculator for everything.

  • Don’t rush. Rushing leads to mistakes in both math and logic (and even calculator number-punching), which produces the wrong answer and may even slow you down as you search for the mistakes. If you know what you’re doing, you can find the right answer quickly, without rushing.

  • Circle and return to the hard questions, so you can get to all the questions you’re able to answer, even if they’re at the end.