Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tips for taking the SAT math

Are you a struggling math student preparing for the SAT's? Are you a parent who has a child who has struggled with the SAT's? I have been helping students prepare for the math portion of the SAT for several years and have tips to help students conquer SAT math.

First, I suggest students purchase "The Official SAT Study Guide" , which has practice exams exactly like the real test, as well as exam topics to review. The math foundation needed for the SAT is a solid knowledge of concepts in algebra, geometry, statistics, graph reading and word problem skills.

This test is broken down into two sections, multiple choice and free response. The multiple choice section is scored so that any question answered incorrectly deducts 1/4 of a point, therefore guessing is not wise unless the possible choices can be narrowed to two or three. There is no penalty for incorrect answers on the free response questions, so guessing when not knowing an answer on these problems is encouraged.

When encountering a question about factoring, if you do not know how to factor, you can look at the answers, multiply them and the one gives the original problem is the correct answer. Some questions are all in terms of variables. In these situations, substituting numbers for the variable is a good option. Work the problem with these substituted value and check your answer with the answers with your numbers substituted. Choose numbers a few times to make sure you get the same result each time to confirm your correct answer.
Another tip when dealing with word problems write an algebraic equation for the problem while reading it. For example, if the question is "What number is four more than three times that number?", the equation is x - 4 = 3x and is found as follows: What number (unknown x) is four more than (subtract 4 and set equal to) three times that number (3 times x).

Usually the mathematical operations involved in solving problems on the SAT is not difficult. The problem often lies in understanding what the question is asking. Brush up on algebra concepts, such as factoring, distributing, exponents, functions, graphs of equations. Geometric concepts to review include areas of polygons, three dimensional figures, volume and Pythagorean theorem. Statistical concepts to review include simple probability, mean, median and mode. It's important to utilize the formulas given in the beginning of the section.

The exam is timed, so complete the questions that you know and come back to those that are difficult, if time permits. Answer all the easy questions correctly to get a decent score. Get some of the medium difficulty questions correct and do not guess on the hard questions. The questions are arranged from easiest to hardest.

If you took the test previously, get your exam results which shows your answers, correct answers, the type of question (algebra, geometry, statistics, etc) and the difficulty of the question. It will give you something to refer to so you know what areas to study for the next time around. Contact your school to find SAT tutors in your area or search for a tutor on one of many tutoring websites. Finally, do not get overwhelmed with the material. A positive attitude is another key to success. Don't have yourself defeated before you take the exam. Good luck!

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