Hi, my name is Matthew Beattie and I’m a control freak. It’s taken me years to finally come to grips with this and while it is still something I have to work on every day, I’ve learned how much of a double edged sword this can be. The great things about being a control freak is that I plan (probably over pan if you ask my wife) for as many possibilities as possible. So if/when I get into a difficult situation I don’t have to spend the extra time to problem solve because I have already done that in my head. The biggest issue is that I waste a ton of time and emotion planning for things that most likely will not happen.
The reason I bring this up is I have heard the question asked, “What do I need to study to improve my SAT score?” more times that I can count. I actually hit on this in a previous post “Where do you want to go?”, on the high level topics that a student can spend their time on to improve their scores. When I hear this question, what I really hear is people reaching out for help and struggling with the uncertainty that is the SAT. So for the first time I am going to go ahead and make you a guarantee….
Ready…. There will be AT LEAST one chart, graph or table problem on the math SAT section and the probability is that they will be in the 4th section of the test. After going through hundreds of actual SAT problems, it is the only section that I can 100% say for sure that you are going to see. The other great thing is that there are only a handful of concepts that they can test with this type of question. Again, this is why it is so important to be able to tackle these types of problems, because you KNOW that it is going to be there! If you are following the mentality of trying to get 38-39 questions correct, these are ones that you can count on.
What topics can these questions cover? I’m glad you asked…
Charts and Tables- I’m grouping these together as they display information very similarly. Here are a couple of examples from our pre-test
You can see that they present data relative to a specific group or on a distinguishing characteristic. I don’t really care what they are talking about, all I care about is using the data to get the correct answer. Herein lies the importance of preparing for these questions. They can only ask you to interpret the data in so many ways.
Graphs (and data plots)- There is a bit more variety on the types of questions that they can and will ask you regarding graphs and data plots. The reason why is they can include a lot more information and then ask you to utilize that data in multiple ways.
Here are some of the top questions that are asked off of graphs and data plots
While graphs and data plots obviously give a bit more leeway with the actual questions, it is really about the ability to interpret the data given. So in your preparation spend some extra time reading through and really understanding what these types of problems are presenting and asking you to do. The more you know about WHAT will be asked on the test, the better you can prepare yourself before you actually sit down to take the test.