# SAT® Math Prep: Practice Tips for Math

## How to Practice for the SAT Math Test Section

Prepping for the SAT Math Test doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Having the right practice tips and strategies can help you spot solutions and move through the section efficiently. Learn more about what to expect from the SAT Math section, then check out Sylvan’s tips below!

But at the same time, there needs to be balance. There are two Math sections. Most of the questions on the SAT Math Test are multiple-choice, with some grid-in responses (student produced response questions). In all, there are 58 questions, 45 multiple-choice and 13 grid-in, and you will have 80 minutes total.

The first section is 25 minutes long with 20 questions, 15 multiple-choice and 5 grid-in. You will NOT be allowed to use a calculator for this section. The second section is 55 minutes long with 38 questions, 30 multiple-choice and 8 grid-in. You WILL be allowed to use a calculator for this section.

These questions will test you on:

• Heart of Algebra. Focuses on mastery of linear equations and systems.
• Problem Solving and Data Analysis. Focuses on using ratios, percentages and proportional reasoning to solve problems.
• Passport to Advanced Math. Features questions that require the manipulation of complex equations.
• Additional Topics in Math. Some questions focus on other topics such as the geometry and trigonometry relevant to college/university and career readiness.

### Tip 1: Use Answer Choices as Hints

The answer choices may give you a hint and may also help you pinpoint a solution. Our prep experts typically recommend that if you can’t eliminate right off the bat, start with B or C. This is because based on what you get, you can decide if you want the number you plug in to be bigger or smaller.

Use this tip to answer the SAT Math practice problem.

Practice Question: If 2x – 4 = 28, what is x?

A. ⅕
B. ¼
C. 4
D. 5

Answer and explanation: Because 2x + 4 = 28, the variable term must be greater than 2 and the answer must be greater than 1. Eliminate (A) and (B).

If 2x – 4 = 28, what is x?

A. ⅕
B. ¼

Check C and D.

C: 24 – 4 = 16 – 4 = 12
D: 25 – 4 = 32 – 4 = 28

### Tip 2: Use a Convenient Number

To make some problems simpler, pick a number that is convenient to use in calculations. This is helpful for calculating a percent change when no values are given.

Use this tip to answer the SAT Math practice problem.

Practice Question: A doctor increases a patient’s dose of a drug by 15%, then decreases it by 4%. What percent of the original dose is the patient now taking?

Answer and explanation: Use a convenient number to solve the problem.

Use 100mg as the original dose. This will make calculation simple, and it will make finding the final percent simple as well. The original value of 100 represents 100%, so each value calculated is also the same as the percent.

100 increased by 15% is 100×1.15 = 115
115 decreased by 4% is 115×0.96 = 110.4

The new dose is 110.4% of the original dose.

### Tip 3: Make Connections

Many of the problems on the SAT require multiple steps to solve. Sometimes you will have to apply concepts from more than one content area.

Use this tip to answer the SAT Math practice problem.

Practice Question: The mean of (x + 5), (x + 3), (2x + 1) and (x – 6) is 12. What is x?

A. 3
B. 6
C. 8
D. 9

STEP 1: The mean of a set of values is the total divided by the number of values in the set. Write an expression for the total.

(x + 5) + (x + 3) + (2x + 1) + (x – 6)

STEP 2: Simplify the expression by grouping like terms.

5x + 3

STEP 3: Write an equation for the mean value.

4

STEP 4: Solve the equation for x.

X = 9

The correct answer choice is D.

Find My Local Sylvan

### Tip 4: Recognize What the Question is Asking

This may seem like a simple concept—but it is too easy, in a testing situation, to answer one part of a question and assume that the problem is finished. Be sure to recognize each part of the question, and let those parts help you make a plan to solve the problem. One way to do this is to underline important information and questions. Some problems have more than one step, so it is important that you check to make sure the answer you choose answers the question posed in the problem.

Use this tip to answer the SAT Math practice problem.

Practice Question: The lengths of the sides of a triangle are 2x + 2, x + 18, and 20 – x. If the perimeter of the triangle is 56 units, what is the length of the shortest side?

A. 8
B. 12
C. 18
D. 26

Answer and explanation: Write an equation to represent the perimeter: (2x + 2) + (x + 18) + (20 – x) = 56

Simplify by combining like terms: 2x + 40 = 56

Isolate the variable term: 2x = 16

Solve for x: x = 8

You may feel like you have completely solved the problem at this point. However, you must recognize what the question is asking. The question asks for the length of the shortest side. Substitute the value for x into the expressions for the length of the sides.

2 (8) + 2 = 18
8 + 18 = 26
20 – 8 = 12

The shortest side has length 12. The correct answer choice is B.

### Tip 5: Time Yourself

One of the biggest challenges of taking the SAT will be to complete the test within the allotted time. Pace yourself! As you take the test, read each question quickly yet carefully, and leave time to answer every question. If you realize that you are taking too long with one question, take your best guess and move on.

Use this tip to answer the SAT Math practice problem.

Practice Question: Can you answer it in less than 90 seconds?

Ian plans to buy books and magazines. Books cost \$5.50 each and magazines cost \$3.00 each. He will buy at least 6 items in total and spend less than \$40. Solving which of the following systems of inequalities yields the number of books, b, and the number of magazines, m, Ian can buy?

A. 5.5b + 3m ≥ 6
b + m < 40

B. 5.5b + 3m < 40
b + m ≥ 6

C. 3b + 5.5m < 40
b + m ≥ 6

D. b + m > 6
5.5b + 3m ≤ 40

Answer and explanation: The number of books plus the number of magazines is at least 6: b + m ≥ 6.

The total cost of books is \$5.5b. The total cost of magazines is \$3m. The cost of books plus the cost of magazines is less than \$40. 5.5b + 3m < 40.