I hope that you had a lovely fall semester. The University of Arizona SAT Prep sessions were incredible, and I got to interact with an amazing group of students. Throughout these sessions, a general theme of questions emerged among the students, so I would like to answer some of these questions and highlight some SAT Mathematics test-taking strategies.
“What content do I need to study to improve my SAT Mathematics score?” The SAT Mathematics syllabus is lean in content; by the time you finish the 11th grade, there is a good chance that you will have covered the content that is required to be successful on the exam. The College Board focuses on topics that will prepare you for a post-secondary career; therefore, the exam will be well represented with Arithmetic and Algebra-related topics. Focus on these areas, and you will see a remarkable gain in your score.
Next, answer as many questions as possible with as few errors as possible! This is not as easy as it sounds since SAT scoring deducts 1/4 point for each incorrect multiple-choice answer. You will generally achieve “maximum right, minimum wrong” by working on what the SAT test-makers consider the easy questions first, then attempting the harder questions you think you know how to do, and, lastly, skipping the rest.
Another valuable tip is to plug in real numbers. Let’s say you interpret a question and end up with a variable (or two) that you need to solve. This strategy enables you to reduce the question’s complexity by using convenient numbers in place of letters (variables) to make a problem more tangible. This very powerful strategy can be used on multiple-choice questions as well as the grid-in questions.
No wild guessing! You should guess on a multiple-choice question only if you have worked on it and can eliminate two or more answers. Otherwise, skip the problem and move on to a question that you can do.
Look for patterns in the questions. Think about what concept the question is using, what information it is giving you, and what it is asking for. Read the question two or three times.
Limit the amount of time that you spend on any one problem. Remember your ultimate goal: Get as many questions correct as possible with as few errors as possible.
I hope these suggestions help you as you prepare for your exam. Best!