5 Best Ways to Study for the SAT Math


SAT is a standardized test widely used for Undergrad College admissions in the United States, a few other top colleges in other countries and in India. The paper-pencil test is administered by “The College Board” in the month of March, May, August, October and December in India. Here is the SAT Test structure:

Sections Test Duration (Minutes) No. of Questions
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Reading 65 52 Multiple Choice
Writing and Language 35 44 Multiple Choice
Math No Calculator 25 15 Multiple Choice
5 Grid In
Yes Calculator 55 30 Multiple Choice
8 Grid In


The test clocks 3 hours (3 hours 15 minutes including breaks). There is a 10-minute break after the Reading section and a 5-minute break after the Math No-Calculator section. Following are the scores awarded by The College Board:
One Total Score: 400 – 1600, Sum of the two sectional scores.

Two Section Scores: 200 – 800 each in Evidence-Based Reading & Writing and Math.

Three Test Scores: 10 – 40 each in Reading, Writing and Language and Math.

Two Cross Test Scores: 10 – 40 in Analysis in History/Social Studies; and Analysis in Science

Seven Subscores: 1 – 15 in Words in Context; Command of Evidence; Expression of Ideas; Standard English Conventions; Heart of Algebra; Problem Solving and Data Analysis; and Passport to Advanced Mathematics.

Within each section, all questions contribute equally to your final score. The raw score of each section is converted to a scaled score. And there is no negative marking for wrong answers. The five best ways to study for the SAT Math section:


1. Review the SAT Math Syllabus

Review the SAT Math Syllabus

The SAT Math preparation starts with the knowledge of the SAT Math syllabus. The SAT Math measures in three areas:

  • Heart of Algebra: It tests the skills of creating, solving and interpreting linear equations in one variable, linear equation in two variables, linear expressions, linear inequalities in one variable, linear inequality in two variables.
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis: It tests the skills of ratios, proportions, rates, scale drawings. percentages, unit conversions, analyzing charts and data, two–way tables, linear growth vs. exponential growth, mean, median, mode, probability, range, standard deviation, drawing conclusions.
  • Passport to Advanced Math: It tests the skills of creating a quadratic or exponential function, equivalent rational expressions, equivalent algebraic expressions, solving quadratic equation, determining the most suitable form of an expression, polynomial expressions, solving system of linear and quadratic equation, the simplest form of an expression, understanding non-linear relationships, understanding functions and graphs.

The SAT Math questions from the above topics will appear as multiple choice or student-produced responses. It may appear under the calculator section or no calculator section.


2. Take an SAT Math Test

Take an SAT Math Test

After having the knowledge of the SAT Math syllabus, take a diagnostic test to understand the pattern of the SAT Math test and the challenges faced during the test. Several websites offer free SAT sectional tests as well as SAT full-length tests which are very similar to the real SAT. While you are preparing for the test, focus on your accuracy and practice for the techniques and not the score. Once mastered the techniques, the scores will improve automatically. Questions in Math are in rough order of difficulty.

SAT Math Question types

There are two types of questions in the Math section:

  • Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ): The first 15 questions (Q. No. 1 – 15) in the “No Calculator” section and the first 30 questions (Q. No. 1 – 30) in the “Calculator” section are multiple-choice questions. There are four answer choices available to each question of this type and you have to choose the best of four answer choices.
    2x + 4y = 15
    x – y = 3What is the value of (x + y) for the above system of equations?
    A. 6
    B. 12
    C. 18
    D. 24
  • Grid in Questions: The last 5 questions (Q. No. 16 – 20) in the “No Calculator” section and the last 8 questions (Q. No. 31 – 38) in the “Calculator” section are Grid in questions. The student-produced result has to be filled the given grid.
    If f(x) = {(2x -3) – 1} + 8x, what is the value of f (1)?

SAT Math Grid In


3. Analyse Your SAT Mock Tests

Analyse Your SAT Mock Tests

Now it’s time to analyze the test to find your weaknesses. One of the effective ways of analyzing the SAT Math paper is to prepare an error log table for each section.

Content Knowledge Errors: Find the number of questions you have got wrong because of lack of content knowledge. If you don’t know how to solve any question then make a note of that question before guessing it. This will help you to set the priority during preparation.

Errors due to Application of Techniques: Find the number of questions where you have the strong content knowledge but you got it wrong because you used the conventional way (time-consuming) of solving instead of using the prescribed technique.

Errors due to Carelessness/Trap Answer: Find the number of questions you got wrong because of misreading, calculation error, common mathematical errors, etc.

Errors due to Pacing: Find the number of questions you got wrong because you were running out of time on some questions.

According to the above analysis, set a goal before every test to practice your SAT Math topics where you need improvement and make a study plan accordingly and stick to it till you achieve your goal.

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4. Selection of SAT Math Books

Selection of SAT Math Books

Now after knowing your strong and weak areas, prepare a study plan based on the time available to you. To prepare any study plan you need a reliable, standard and effective source of material to get your best possible score. Since the SAT is timed, so it is important to get the answers quickly and accurately. At Manya – The Princeton review, we offer the following materials:

Books List:

  • SAT Manual
    Covers all topics, techniques and drills (Quant & Verbal)
  • TPR test booklets & bubble sheets
    – 5 nos
  • SAT 10 practice tests book
    An additional source for practicing tests

SAT Student Portal:

  • 30+ Full-length practice tests including 10 College Board practice tests
  • 8 single section tests
  • Interactive score reports
  • Answers with explanation for all the questions
  • Recommendation engine for further practice
  • 140+ hours of videos based interactive lessons and drills
  • Unlimited access to SAT Advantage Live Online sessions
  • Online Proctoring tool
  • Progress tracking – anytime, anywhere


5. Be a Smart Test Taker

Be a Smart Test Taker

After analyzing the first test, revise the topics where you got more mistakes, before the next test. Work on only one or two weak areas before every test. In the initial stage of your SAT preparation, start with easy questions to learn concepts and identify faster and more accurate ways to answer questions, then gradually move on to the medium and hard level of questions for a particular topic. Use Process of Elimination (POE) and Ball Parking (approximation) to answer the question if you are stuck or running out of time on some questions.

After practicing selected topics, take another SAT mock test and check if your hit rate has improved on those topics. The gap between each test depends on the target set by you. Similarly, fix your content and strategy thereafter. Stick to the strategy you have prepared during the practice. Don’t change it every now and then.


Frequently Asked Questions


1. Can we take SAT multiple times?

Yes, you can appear for SAT any number of times.

2. Should we take SAT multiple times?

Ideally twice. But not more than three times.

3. Does College Board offer any free tests?

The College Board offers 8 free SAT tests for practice.

4. Is Calculus tested in SAT?

No. SAT tests only high school Math.

5. What does the SAT Math section test?

The SAT Math section tests Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis and Passport to Advanced Mathematics.

6. What are the different question types in SAT Math section?

There are two types of questions in SAT Math: 1) Multiple Choice and 2) Grid In.


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