In this lesson, our professor Vincent Selhorst-Jones gives an introduction on mathematics: intro and strategies. He discusses the math section, student-produced response / grid-in, math concepts, writing in your test booklet, back solving, and replacing variables with numbers.
The Math section of the SAT is exactly what you'd expect: a bunch of math problems! It's very similar to the math homework you've been working on for years, just with multiple-choice answers.
The only unusual part is the "Student-Produced Response" section (AKA "grid-in"). But really, it's not that unusual: instead of choosing an answer from multiple choices, you just have to give an answer you came up with on your own. You give the answer by bubbling digits/symbols in four columns, and that grid makes up your answer.
A lot of doing well on the Math section is knowing your math concepts. You've almost certainly seen all these concepts before: they only make it up to Algebra II. So while you do need to be comfortable with a bunch of different concepts, it's probably just a matter of re-acquainting yourself with these ideas.
The following three lessons all go over various math concepts. Check them out to familiarize yourself with everything you need to know for the SAT.
As you discover topics you're unfamiliar with or find difficult, write them down, then go study them. If you want help with a specific concept, check out the SAT Math-specific lessons, browse the Math section of Educator.com, search the web, or ask someone you know who is good at math.
It's obvious, but it's important: write in your test booklet while you're working on math problems. Math is best done in writing, and luckily you have plenty of scratch paper in your test booklet.
Pay attention to the questions and your work. If you misread a question, there's no way to get it right. And if you don't focus on your work, you're bound to make mistakes.
Make sure you're comfortable with your calculator. Also, remember that having a calculator won't automatically solve everything for you: it's up to you to understand what to do with it and how to use it. Often the easiest way to solve a problem won't even use a calculator!
If you're not aiming for a very high score (650 or above), you might want to consider omitting some questions based on a goal score. Figure out what your goal score is, then look up the corresponding approximate raw score. That gives you some idea of how many questions you can just completely skip.
One trick to get the answer is "Back Solving" (AKA Trial and Error, Guess and Check, Plugging In Choices). Instead of solving a problem for the answer, you can just pick choices (or numbers you think might work) and plug them in. If it works, you found the answer. If it doesn't, pick another choice and try again.
You can also try replacing variables with numbers. Pick a hypothetical number and replace the variable with it. Try out different numbers and see how things behave. Doing this often helps you better understand complicated problems.
Finally, if you're not sure how to approach a problem, sometimes you can get a hint by looking at the choices. In general, the choices have to seem reasonable, so most of them will somehow be related to the solution.
Math Introduction & Strategy
Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.
Educator.com recommends The Official SAT Study Guide published by The College Board, the administrators of the actual SAT test. In it, you will find additional practice questions and a review of all subjects, along with 10 official SAT practice tests. Our instructors work through several of the practice tests in real time, going through their thought processes and test-taking tips.
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