I love this quote from Alice in Wonderland and I think it draws a lot of parallels to students who are starting to prepare for the SAT. One of the questions I hear a lot from students and families is, “What should I focus on and what should I be studying?” Unfortunately there is no one “right” answer to this question and is really dependent on the student's goals. It becomes even more difficult when you look at what is covered on the math section of the SAT. College Board states that the exam covers three areas of math, 1) Heart of Algebra 2) Problem solving and data analysis and 3) Passport to advanced math. Where do we even start? In contrast to such broad topics that can cover pretty much anything that you have learned in math classes, we instead break the test down into specific subjects and skills that the student should focus on in order to increase their scores. We did this by going through and looking at hundreds of actual SAT math questions. What we found was pretty astounding… **Focus on word problems**. The ability to read a word problem, understand what the question is asking us to do, extract the pertinent information and solve the problem is HUGE on the SAT. Word problems can ask us to do everything from setting up a system of equations to predicting future rainfall in an area. Almost 20% of the questions we reviewed can fall under this “word problem” umbrella!!!**Graphs/Charts/Tables**(GCT moving forward). Especially prevalent in section 4. With a focus on “real world” application, you can see why there are so many of these types of questions on the SAT. These questions ask everything from finding a specific point on a graph, to utilizing an equation of a parabola. Just like word problems, the ability of the student to identify what the question is asking, find the data/information on the GCT, and then complete the mathmatic action is critical.**Solve the problem**. Probably the most basic and familiar for students are the problems that simply ask us to solve. These questions are most like the math problems we have solved in class. There is a clear order of operations and if you do the steps properly then you will get the right answer.**Understanding equations**. Obviously being able to work an equation is a required skill to do well on the SAT. However, we focus more on understanding what the equation is actually telling us. Great if you can find the x intercept of an equation, but do you know what that actually means? Once a student understands an equation, they are much more equipped to answer questions that ask them to simplify, expand, factor or solve the problem.**Geometry**. While Dorothy was worried about Lions, Tigers and Bears (Oh My!), we are worried about Circles, Triangles and Lines. Lucky for us, the SAT bases almost all of their geometry questions around one of these three categories. The tricky part is really the variety in question types (notice the trend?). Spend some extra time brushing up on right triangles, the relationships between interior angles and arc length in circles, and angle relationships in lines (corresponding, parallel, alternate interior and exterior angles, etc) if it has been a while since you were in geometry class.
While there is obviously more covered, I hope this gives you a good starting point on what to actually review when it comes to the SAT. When we first start working with a student on SAT prep, we have them take our Pre-Test. This short test is focused on these specific concepts and allows tutoring sessions to be laser focused on the areas where the student needs the most improvement. Not sure where to start? Take the test and get started improving your score now!!!
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## AuthorMatthew Beattie is the founder and owner of SAT Master Key, the Greater Charleston area's most innovative SAT prep and tutoring company. ## Archives
October 2018
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