SAT Secret 26: The SAT Math Test: Overview

SAT Secret 26: The SAT Math Test: Overview

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The SAT Math Test measures your ability to apply mathematical concepts and skills to the types of problems you might see in college and in your career. You’ll see one 55-minute section with 38 questions (calculators ok) and one 25-minute section with 20 questions (calculators not permitted).

Types of math

Questions on the Math Test cover a variety of skills under three main areas.

  • Heart of Algebra: focuses on linear equations, systems of linear equations, and the relationships between them.

[Explain]This question defines the variable and asks you to create a function that describes the context. After every year, the 783 miles of road gets 8 miles longer. The correct answer is choice C. One way to double check your answer would be to plug in a few values for nnnn into the choices and see what happens to the result – try 1, then 2, then 3.

  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis: focuses on ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning.

[Explain]Choice D is the answer. Look carefully at the table and try to detect a pattern: At t=0t = 0t=0t, equals, 0, which corresponds to the time when the culture was placed in the medium, there were (103)(10^3)(103)left parenthesis, 10, start superscript, 3, end superscript, right parenthesis bacteria. At t=1t = 1t=1t, equals, 1 there are 4 times more bacteria, and when t=2t=2t=2t, equals, 2 there are 4 times more than that. This is modeled by the exponential function N(t)=1,000(4t)N(t) = 1,000(4^t)N(t)=1,000(4t)N, left parenthesis, t, right parenthesis, equals, 1, comma, 000, left parenthesis, 4, start superscript, t, end superscript, right parenthesis, which has value 1,000 at t=0t = 0t=0t, equals, 0 and increases by a factor of 4 for each increase of 1 in the value of tttt. TipTipTipT, i, p One approach here would be to plug values for tttt into the choices and see what happens. Does the left column agree with the right column? Try 0, then 1, 2, and 3.

  • Passport to Advanced Math: focuses on complex equations and functions typically needed in a STEM-based—science, technology, engineering, and math—career.

[Explain]You won’t see questions much more difficult than this one on the SAT. The answer is choice D. The key here is to see that 165165165165 feet is equal to 1.5×1.5×1.5×1, point, 5, x (the distance the car traveled in the 1.5 seconds before the brakes are applied) plus (x24)(x2)(\dfrac{x}{24}) (\dfrac{x}{2})(24x​)(2x​)left parenthesis, start fraction, x, divided by, 24, end fraction, right parenthesis, left parenthesis, start fraction, x, divided by, 2, end fraction, right parenthesis (the distance the car traveled after the brakes are applied but before it comes to a stop). x248+1.5x=165\dfrac{x^2}{48} + 1.5x = 16548×2​+1.5x=165start fraction, x, start superscript, 2, end superscript, divided by, 48, end fraction, plus, 1, point, 5, x, equals, 165. This quadratic equation can be rewritten in standard form by subtracting 165 from each side and then multiplying each side by 48.These questions also can include additional topics in math, like geometry, trigonometry, radian measure, and complex numbers.The SAT Math Test presents problems and scenarios that you will find in real life from a variety of fields: careers, science, social science, and other contexts.

What the test looks like

About 80% of the questions on the Math Test are multiple choice. The other 20% are gridded response. The answer to each gridded-response question is a positive number—e.g., positive fraction, decimal, or integer—that will be entered on the answer sheet into a grid like this one.

The Math Test will also include reference information. You may find these facts and formulas helpful as you answer some of the test questions, but to do well, you should already be comfortable working with these facts and formulas.

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