How to Study for SAT Math

Getting the Facts and the Tips

by Sarah Cage

Do you know how to study for SAT math? For many high school students, the SAT is super crucial. For some of them, it is the test that can determine their future. Not to mention that there are several subjects that requires in-depth studies and learning. If you think that math is one of your weakest subjects, then read on.

Why the SAT?

SAT is basically a standardized test that is used for collegeadmission. This test is mainly applied in America. High school students will have to take the test to enroll to college. From the score, they can determine whether they will continue their study at the Ivy League colleges or the regular ones. The higher your SAT score is, the better your chance will be to be accepted in many colleges. If you get the highest SAT scores and you send admission applications to many colleges, bigger chances that you will be accepted. On the contrary, if you have low scores, be prepared with rejections.

Here is an example: Mary is a student with the highest SAT scores. She applies to 5 different colleges and she is accepted in all of them. Now, she only needs to choose which college to go to. Some of them are even offering her scholarships. Carla, on the other hand, has a pretty low SAT scores. She also applies to 5 different colleges, but 4 of them have refused her. Now she depends on one answers. If she is unlucky, she may try again next year or she goes to the private college, which is more expensive.

From the scheme above, you can see the advantage of having a high SAT score. Sure, you will also focus on other subjects, but knowing how to study for SAT math can really help.

The Subject Tests for SAT

When you apply for colleges, you need to submit scores – you need to have at least two subjects SAT tests. Here are some of the subjects and the general basic info.

Subject Tests

General Description

Biology E/M

This subject will test your understanding of general biology. It will also test your comprehension and recall on biology concepts as well as your ability to provide specific solution with the learned biological principles. The subjects are offered in Biology Molecular and Biology Ecological


This will test your ability to interpret and organize results from experiments and observation. This will also test your drawing conclusion ability by using data, including the ones in tabular form or graphic.


Just like Chemistry, this will test your ability in using physical principles to solve problems. It will also include your comprehension of trigonometric, proportion and ratio proportion, simple algebraic, and graphical relationship.

U.S. History

It will test your comprehension with cause and effect relationship, historical concept, geography, and other things related to historical developments taking place in American history.

World History

It will test your comprehension of global history development, documented events, historical terminology and techniques, and such thing alike.


It will test yourcomprehension in interpreting and reading literature. Questions usually focus on argument issues, tones, theme, and such thing alike.


It will test yourcomprehension on math knowledge, such as limits, sequences,logic, elementary statistics, etc.

A Glimpse about SAT

There are two sections for SAT – Math and EBRW (Evidence Based Reading and Writing). You should reach the so-called Scaled Score in between 200 to 800 points for each section so you can reach a total of 1600 points – if you expect a perfect result. The Scaled Score is derived from the raw score – which refers to the number of correct questions. Wrong questions or skipped questions won’t add or reduce your raw score.

Here is a problem with converting the raw scores to scaled scores, which happens through equating process. You see, there are different test editions across different types of administrations. In equating, there are different ability levels or test that shouldn’t affect the score. For instance, it is possible for different people to take the test on different times which results in different scores. For instance, you take the test in March with Test 1. Your friend, Marsha, takes the test in May with Test 4. Both of you get 57 for the raw score. However, whereas Marsha can get a perfect 800 (because of Test 4), you only get 790.

Here is an example of Score Conversion Table Test 1

How to Study for SAT Math: Score Conversion Table Test 1
How to Study for SAT Math: Score Conversion Table Test 1

And here is the example ofScore Conversion Table Test 4

How to Study for SAT Math: Score Conversion Table Test 4
How to Study for SAT Math: Score Conversion Table Test 4

Some Basic Things to Do

If you want to know some of the things about how to study for SAT math, everything won’t happen overnight. You need to start preparing yourself at least 6 months before the test date. One thing to remember is that you don’t have to feel pressured or overwhelmed. As long as you have prepared yourself, you should be confident about it. Sure, a great SAT score can give you many opportunities while the poor score can limit your picks. But again, the key is being prepared and ready.

Math SAT Format

In knowing how to study for SAT math, you need to know the basic facts. First of all, the math tests has two different and separate tests. Each test has its own score, and then those two scores will be combined into one score – the single Scaled Score. The total test has 58 questions which should be completed within 80 minutes. Most of them are multiple choices. However, there are 13 grid in questions where you need to have your own response and answers instead of choosing the answer from the already available options.

The first test is the Math Test Calculator. As you can guess, you can use the calculator for this test. In this part of the test, there are 30 multiple choice problems and also 8 grid in answers. You need to complete it within 55 minutes. The second one is the Math Test No Calculator. On the contrary from the first test, you can’t use any calculator or whatsoever. There are 20 multiple problems, including 5 grid in answers. You only have 25 minutes to complete the test.

The assessment of the Math SAT will test your conceptual understanding, math fluency, and also the ability to apply the knowledge for solving problems setting. These skills will be tested in 3 content areas, covering:

  • Passport to Advanced Math which has questions requiring complex equations manipulation
  • Data Analysis and Problem Solving which is about quantitative literate
  • Heart of Algebra focusing on linear systems and equations mastery

In some cases, there is a possibility of Additional Topics in Math that includes trigonometry and geometry. Once you understand the basic principle of the test and what you should do to achieve the best, then you can start the preparation.

Basic Ways to Improve Your Skills

Focus on the Study

How to Study for SAT Math: Focus on theStudy
How to Study for SAT Math: Focus on the Study

Focus is one important key in how to study for SAT math in the right way. There are two major ways to maximize the studying focus. First of all, you need to know your starting point. Many students may not know this. There are some online sources that can help you with the study. If you have never taken the test before, you can access the practice test – some websites offer them for free. If you have taken the SAT test, then the score report will shed a light on your strength and weakness. Only by doing this, you can focus on the materials. You can dig further to the subjects that you are weak at, and you only need to have more practice on the subjects that you are good at.

The second way is to understand which areas of content are heavily tested. For instance, ratios and proportions, manipulating polynomials, and exponential functions were the most common subjects found in the SAT math test – they contributed more than 50% of the contents. To create an efficient study, find out the major proportions of the subjects and focus on them deeply.

If you find problems understanding this, you should ask for a help. Ask for the school counselor or a trusted teacher to help yourself prepared. Don’t just sit there doing nothing. If you don’t understand anything, ask – go for a help. At least you are doing something instead of doing nothing.

Practice, Practice, and Practice

How to Study for SAT Math: Practice, Practice, and Practice
How to Study for SAT Math: Practice, Practice, and Practice

If you want to be familiar with the questions and the subjects, the best way to do it is to practice – as much (and as often) as possible. If you have understood your weakness and your strength, it will be even easier because you can start from there. Let’s say that you are pretty good in variables but lousy in exponential functions. To help you understand the subjects betters, find the proper exercises for both subjects. Find more exercises for the exponential functions cases. Once you familiarize yourself with the subject and the problems, you should be able to gain better understanding. If you can find partners for the exercises, that’s great.

Careless Mistakes Be Gone

How to Study for SAT Math: Careless Mistakes Be Gone
How to Study for SAT Math: Careless Mistakes Be Gone

One of the most common ways of how to study for SAT math is to focus and minimize careless mistakes. When you review the cases and the questions, you are like, “Wow, how come I make such a mistake? This is basically super easy to the point of brainless.” The problem is, people tend to do this type of mistake, resulting them in losing valuable (and crucial) points.

There are some ways to minimize this kind of issue. First of all, don’t rush. Know your own pace and slow down. Time management is important, but what’s more important is for you to really understand each question. You need to allow yourself a certain period of time to read the question, absorb it, and start thinking. Second, you need to focus. Clear your head. It would be impossible for anyone to think clearly with their logic if they are confused or they have something else to think about. When you are doing the test, forget about your boyfriend or girlfriend, forget about your social media feeds or contents, and forget everything. Your focus is right in front of you – focus on it.

Third, you should write each step to answer the problem. Writing each step will help you think in a logical order. This will also make it easy when your answer doesn’t match with anything on the choices – then you know that you make a mistake. The step will take you back to the process – which helps you to understand what you have done wrong or which conclusion is slightly mistaken.

Familiarize Yourself with Resources

How to Study for SAT Math: Familiarize Yourself withResources
How to Study for SAT Math: Familiarize Yourself with Resources

Do you know that you can actually use references during the real test for math SAT? This is one among a few tests (standardized) that allow you to do so. You should be able to find the reference sheet at every beginning of test booklet. It is designed that way so students can have an easy access to it – and they can use the reference sheet for the test.

When you arrive at the location of the test, be prepared. Don’t focus on the content of the reference sheet, but you should know exactly what you can do with it. If you don’t know what the reference sheet is or what it looks like, you should be able to find one online. Don’t forget that calculator is also your helpful tool that can help with the problem solving process. Bring your own calculator and be sure that you have done it many times in the past. In this way, you know for sure the common features and how to operate it in the maximum way. Don’t borrow the calculator from a friend – you will only annoy the person. If your friend is borrowing your calculator, and you have a spare, lend it. But if you don’t (meaning that you only bring the one and only calculator), then don’t lend it. You need it yourself – and it’s not the right time to be a hero.

Use Two Pass Strategy

How to Study for SAT Math: Use Two Pass Strategy
How to Study for SAT Math: Use Two Pass Strategy

This is a part of time management strategy that can help you save time (and also energy and efforts) along the way. The ideaisthat you should skip the questions that may require you to spend a rather long time for the solution. Focus on the ones that are easier to answer.

Although this way may seem efficient and helpful, you need to be extra careful on this. Some questions are managed and organized based on the level of difficulty. If this happens, you may find yourself at clusters of unsolved questions. Some questions are probably managed in a random order, where the easy, medium, and difficult problems are combined together. But still, you need to really focus and work on the time management. Don’t slack or slow down. You need to keep up the pace and don’t let your guards down.

In some cases, you may find out that the answer isn’t as difficult as you have guessed after reading the problem again. That’s why you should read the problems again after you have finished with the easy ones. Read slowly and carefully. Once you have figured out a way, you may find yourself left with only several real difficult questions. It’s not so bad, right? Check your time. How many minutes have you got to finish them all? And start working. It takes some exercise and training to really get the hang of it. That’s why you should practice.

The most common and effective methodin successfully doing the test is to practice. It goes back to the previous section where you need to prepare enough time to get prepared. You also need to practice, practice, and practice. There is no better way to improve your skills and get a better understanding of the subjects. When it comes to practice, don’t limit yourself. Familiarize yourself with traditional practice, online system, and so much more. We live in the modern era these days, so it should be easy to find free online materials. If you don’t know how, ask for a help from your teacher.

Further Ways to Develop Your Skills

How to Study for SAT Math: Further Ways to Develop Your Skills
How to Study for SAT Math: Further Ways to Develop Your Skills

Besides all of those methods above on how to study for SAT math, there are also some basic techniques that you can do to improve your skills and ability. Don’t forget that the math sections for the SAT take place on the 3rd and also 4th sections. In the first section that runs for 25 minutes, you won’t be allowed to use the calculator. And then, on the second section that runs for 55 minutes, a calculator will be allowed.

Here are some ways to tackle the problems:

· Take the practice test. Naturally, you will have to practice and prepare yourself for the test. In order to do so, you will need to have a practice test. When you are taking a practice test, along with the answer sheet, time yourself. Then, score the test and find out which topics you need to study more. From this, you can build and develop your own study plan – which is going to help you personally because each study method is personalized. It depends on each person’s ability.

· Remember math facts and formulas. It is basically not about memorizing, but understanding. If you memorize the facts or formulas, it may last only on a temporary period. But if you understand them, the possibility for you to remember them will last longer. For instance, when you see xy coordination planes and perpendicular lines, the common answers are either ‘the same slope’ or ‘no solution.’ This will give you a lot of guidance to tackle the problem. It also helps with faster orientation as you move through each section.

· Practice and then review. As it was mentioned before, the more you practice, the more you will familiarize yourself with the questions – and also possible answers. A simple tip for this section: If you have a wrong answer, don’t immediately go to the explanation section. Try a different formula or approach. See whether you can solve it or not. This will hone your skills and creativity.

Those are some of the basic things that you can do on how to study for SAT math. However, there are still more tips and tricks to improve your ability and skills.

· Use strategies and techniques. You see, every person has their own preference and like. In the event that you can’t solve a problem with a familiar math strategy, have a different approach. There are several strategies that you can do, such as back solving or picking numbers. However, feel free if you have your own strategy and method. If you have developed your own way or formula to deal with the problems, go ahead. Basically, do the calculation as your are comfortable with it. It would be even better if your technique can also help you save time.

· Learn the basic calculations. This skill can be useful and handy when you aren’t allowed to use the calculator. After all, the new SAT has the section with no calculator application. This skill can be quite handy, especially if you can do long division, multiplication, and line graphic straight draw. If you know the basic calculations, everything will be easier.

· Minimize careless operation. Basically, people tend to make mistakes when they are nervous or they are under pressure. When you are doing the test, you are running with the time, literally, so you can finish the test on time. Because of this, the possibility of making mistakes is always bigger. You need to focus and try to relax. Be confident about yourself.

· Speed improvement practice. The problem with SAT is that you have to do it within a limited time period. It is a good idea if you can work and practice your speed. You don’t have to be super fast like Superman but such a speed practice can help, especially if you want to do everything efficiently and correctly. Naturally, such a thing can’t happen within a short period of time so you will need to prepare enough time for the practice.

Now that you already understand the basic facts about SAT math, you can take the preparatory steps. And then knowing how to study for SAT math is only a part of it.

About Sarah Cage

Sarah Cage is an accomplished education writer known for her insightful and engaging work in the field. With a passion for empowering students and teachers alike, she has made a significant impact through her thought-provoking articles and research papers.

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