The SAT Mathematics section requires students to balance time and accuracy. Being familiar with the mathematics concepts tested is only the first step in realizing your success; managing your time should be the next step in your test preparation.
The Mathematics section is organized in such a way that the questions become more challenging as you proceed. That means question 15 will be more difficult than question 1, and question 20 will be more difficult than question 10. Remember, though, that difficulty is subjective, so I always advise students to take time to look at all the questions in a section and then make a judgment call, working first on the questions that you think will not take you too long to complete. That said, with proper time management and knowledge of the test format, it is entirely possible to complete every section on the SAT.
Here are 3 tips to always keep in mind while taking the exam:
Work efficiently through the sections: You will have to make the choice between efficiency and speed. Don’t sacrifice accuracy for speed. Speed doesn’t count for anything if careless mistakes are the result. Remember that you will be deducted 1/4 point anytime you miss an attempted question.
Always be aware of time: Make sure that you have a time management strategy before going into the exam room. Do not spend too much time on any one question. Here is a breakdown of the allotted time for each Mathematics section: 25 minutes for 20 multiple-choice questions; 25 minutes for 18 questions; 8 multiple-choice questions and 10 grid-in questions (also called student-produced response questions), which require you to write your answers in a special grid; and 20 minutes for 16 multiple-choice questions. That works out to a little more than one minute per question.
Push yourself to work faster at the beginning of each section in order to save time for the more challenging questions at the end of each section: The questions at the beginning of each section tend to be easier, and as each section progresses, the questions become progressively more difficult.
Make your calculator your best friend: Calculators are actually under-utilized on the SAT. A good working knowledge of your calculator can save you a lot of time.
Get a good scientific calculator so you can easily calculate factorials, permutations, combinations, squares and radicals. Lastly, learn when to do some mental math instead of always doing any unnecessary calculations on a calculator.
I hope the above strategies help you as you continue preparing for the SAT. Please share any other time saving strategies you may have. We are always eager to hear from you.