Welcome back to our 6th tactic to score over a 600 on your math section of the SAT. If you have not seen our first 5, please take a look at them before diving into this new tactic. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
If you’ve been following us for a while, I hope you notice that we focus more on the underlying concepts and core abilities than how to correctly answer 1 specific question. The reason is that these skills and abilities help student be able to answer whatever questions are asked on the SAT. I hate to beat a dead horse, but there is no definitive list of questions that are going to be asked on the test! One of the most important concepts to master is what I like to call Equation Manipulation.
What is Equation Manipulation? Basically it is the ability to “shift” and “adjust” an equation to put it into a form that allows you to answer the question. It sounds so simple and is something that we have been doing in math classes for years, but as usual, the SAT has a way of complicating it. Let’s take a look at a simple example…
This can be “manipulated” in different directions such as…
There are obviously more forms of this equation, but I hope you understand where I am coming from. All of these are the same equation, but the student would be using different forms depending on what the question is asking us to do. The reason this is such an important skill is two fold.
1) There are questions on the SAT that ask us to specifically do this! (I use 3 examples taken from one section of the SAT in the blog “All questions are not created equal”)
2) There are many questions where you need this skill as a step to solve the problem. These problems are not the typical “Which one of the following are in an equivalent form?” Here are two examples from the 4th practice exam
The likelihood is that you are going to see at least one system of equations problem (as you can see above). If you don’t feel comfortable manipulating and changing the equation around, these problems are sure to give you issues. You’ll also see in the first example where they are asking for “possible” values. This is a HUGE hint that you should be looking to adjust the equation to fit for what they are asking.
One last thing to finish this up. I believe the most difficult part of the SAT is the time limit. Let’s call it what it is, answering 20 questions in 25 minutes in section 3 is tough. Answering 38 questions in section four in 55 minutes is difficult considering that there will likely be a “reading comprehension” type problem (at least 1). This is one of the biggest reasons that being able to manipulate an equation quickly and correctly is massively important. So, in your preparation to take the test, don’t forget to spend some extra time brushing up on your ability to shift an equation into the correct form!