The 411 on the SAT Assessment
The Math Section – Calculator and No Calculator
Written by Bill Reed
The SAT Math Section usually brings up great anxiety from students especially when they are taking the Math Test – No Calculator part of this section. It does not need to be that way. The SAT Assessment Math section has some very definite attributes students can prepare for and be ready when they encounter them.
The SAT Math Test covers a range of math practices, with an emphasis on problem-solving, modeling, using tools strategically, and using algebraic structure. Knowing and understanding the structure and key concepts on the SAT Math Section will allow the student to feel comfortable and even confident while taking the two Math Tests in this section.
Taking the focuses discussed in the second part of the quick reference guide below and correlating them with the Indiana Academic Standards for Mathematics will allow teachers the ability to successfully prepare students for the SAT Assessment Math section they will be taking.
The SAT Math Section breakdown and Scoring
The Math section is scored between 200 – 800 points. If students fill in their name and do not answer a single question, they will score a 200 on the Math section. It is divided into 2 parts which are: The Math Test – No Calculator and The Math Test – Calculator Test. Every question on each of the two Math Tests on the SAT Math Section are worth the exact same point values.
There are multiple-choice and student-produced “Grid In” questions in this section. Students need to be familiar with the student-produced “Grid In” questions as these 13 total questions (5 on the no calculator math test and 8 on the calculator math test) will account for between 130 and 150 SAT Scale Score points.
The first third of the problems in each Math Test are easy with one or two difficult problems included. The second third are medium difficulty. The last third are the harder problems with a few easy problems mixed in. It is important for students to try every problem and make an “educated” guess even if they are not sure of the correct answer.
Our Plan to Help with the SAT Assessment
INcompassing Education knows how important it is for Administrators, Teachers, Students and Parents to have quick easy reference guides to help them understand the SAT Assessment Math section. This guide will provide the best way for students to prepare and practice.
The guides provide the skills, tips, and tricks for students to do their very best. The SAT Assessment Math Section quick reference sheet has all the important information everyone needs to be informed about the two Math Tests they will take in this section.
There are two parts to this quick reference guide. The first is all about the two Math Tests. It includes the specifics about how many questions, pacing while taking the tests, and tricks and tips students should know to help them do their best. The second part are the topics covered in the SAT Assessment Math Section.
Teachers should use it to identify the Indiana Academic Standards for Mathematics they need to make sure they make a focus of their math instruction throughout Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2. Becoming familiar with this information and these facts will help schools and students improve their SAT Assessment Scale scores.
The overall goal for these quick reference sheets is for all students to achieve their best possible score and allow them to achieve their dreams and aspirations as they move past high school!
SAT Math Section Tips and Tricks
Breakdown of Math Sections
The Math Section on the SAT Assessment is broken down into the following two tests with the information given on each section:
|Test Section||Total Minutes for this Section||Total Number of Question||Pacing: Minutes per Problem||Total Number of Multiple-Choice Questions||Total Number of Student Produced (Grid-In) Questions|
|Math – No Calculator||25||20||about 75 seconds||15||5|
|Math – Calculator||55||38||about 90 seconds||30||8|
SAT Math Section Facts
1. Khan Academy is the Official College Board preparation partner for the SAT Assessment. They have many practice problems and multiple complete practice SAT Assessments. Teachers and Students can sign up for free to access the preparation materials. Try this before purchasing supplemental materials.
2. Science and Social Studies content are included in the Math word problems.
3. Understanding the important tips and tricks along with a little practice and only a few more questions answered correctly can raise a student’s SAT Scale score 50 – 100 points in each of the two sections.
4. The are NO penalties for guessing on the SAT Assessment. There are ways to improve students’ overall SAT Scores by knowing and using some strategic methods to make educated guesses on each of the sections on the SAT Assessment.
- Wear a Wrist Basic Watch to keep track of pacing shown above!
- After 45 seconds to 1 minute if students are still not sure what the question is asking, have students take a best guess and move on to the next question.
- Use Logic first! Then try the mathematics!
- Diagrams are almost ALWAYS drawn to scale!
- Eliminate Answer choices.
- All multiple-choice questions only have ONE CORRECT Solution.
- Read the problem carefully to make sure students round as directed and answer the question being asked.
- Do not answer too quickly!
- Work Backwards by plugging in the answer choices to make a true statement!
- USE THE SCRATCH PAPER! Make a sketch or drawing of the shapes and figures in the problem.
- If the problem gives students a Conversion Equation (e.g., 5280 feet = 1 mile) they WILL use it in the problem!
- The SAT Math Test does NOT just copy the numbers in the passage for the answer choices!
- Word Choices are correct over just a numerical choice.
- No SAT Math Test questions over Standard Deviation so it is NOT a correct answer choice!
5. Have a Calculator students are familiar with for the Math Test – Calculator. Leave it on the desk to work the problem. DO not pick it up to use it!
6. Remind students to remain Clam and Breath while they are taking the Math Tests! Especially the No Calculator part.
7. The National Average SAT Scale Score for the SAT Math Test was:
- 2019 Math Test – 528 SAT Scale score
- 2018 Math Test – 531 SAT Scale score
8. The Math Section is one SAT Scaled Score no matter if the questions are on the Calculator or No Calculator parts.
9. The Student Produced (Grid-In) Questions count for between 130 – 150 SAT Scale Score and are the last 5 questions on the Math Test – No Calculator and the last 8 questions on the Math Test – Calculator and will be given in the order of difficulty.
10. There are NO Negatives on the student-produced (Grid-In) solutions and the solution can only have 4 total characters in the solution including decimal points and faction bars
11. Currently for Indiana the SAT Scale score a student needs to achieve to be considered proficient is a 530 SAT Scale score in the Math section.
12. To get a 530 SAT Scale score in the Math section students would need to get about 30 questions correct out of the 58 possible (about 51.7% correct). Anyone can see the complete explanation of the sample scores on the College Board website at: Practice Test Scores Worksheet.
13. Beginning with the Graduation Class of 2023 the SAT Assessment will be one of the ways for all Indiana high school students to fulfill a Graduation Pathway Option for the Postsecondary-Ready Competencies of the Indiana Graduation Requirements.
Starting with the class of 2023 Indiana Students will now have three requirements to graduate from high school.
- Earn a High School Diploma
- Learn and Demonstrate Employment Skills
- Post-Secondary Ready Competencies
There are multiple pathways to fulfill the last two the three requirements. More information can be found on the Indiana Department of Educations website at: https://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/graduation-pathways/graduation-requirements.pdf
A simple checklist to see if students have fulfilled all three requirements to graduate from high school can be found at: https://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/student-assistance/graduation-pathway-checklist.pdf
14. The SAT Assessment will be administered in school ONLINE for the first time on Wednesday, March 2, 2022. It will NOT be a paper-pencil test when it is administered. Students will take the entire SAT Assessment on a computer. They will be allowed and encouraged to use scrap paper and have a calculator they are familiar with using regularly. 2021 – 2022 Indiana Assessment Schedule
SAT Mathematic Must Knows
Take the focuses discussed below and correlate them to the Indiana Academic Standards for Mathematics. Doing this will allow teachers the ability to successfully prepare students for the SAT Assessment Math section they will be taking.
- Know all 4 types of Slopes. (+, -, 0, and Undefined) Know how Slope is used with Linear Equations and Graphing Lines. Know the various forms of Linear Equations.
- Know the specific Algebraic Patterns like the Distributive Property, Difference of Two Squares and Perfect Square of a Binomial.
- Know the Exponent Rules and how they get used especially for Rational Expressions.
- Know how to translate words into math symbols. Know basic formulas from memory. You can find the basic Formulas you need to know here. Basic Formulas
- Know Domain and Range, the Coordinate Plane, and x and y-intercepts.
- Carefully read all problems and solve for the correct variable. Make sure if the problem asks students to round to a specific place value, they know the rounding rules and place values to do it correctly.
SAT Math Section Focus Areas
The Math Section on the SAT Assessment focuses on the following four areas:
- Heart of Algebra – the mastery of linear equations and systems has a total of 19 questions.
- Create, solve, or interpret a linear expression or equation in one variable
- Create, solve, or interpret linear inequalities in one
- Build a linear function that models a linear relationship between two quantities.
- Create, solve, and interpret systems of linear inequalities in two variables.
- Create, solve, and interpret systems of two linear equations in two variables.
- Algebraically solve linear equations (or inequalities) in one variable.
- Algebraically solve systems of two linear equations in two variables.
- Interpret the variables and constants in expressions for linear functions within the context presented.
- Understand connections between algebraic and graphical representations.
- Problem Solving and Data Analysis, which is about being quantitatively literate has a total of 17 total questions.
- Use ratios, rates, proportional relationships, and scale drawings to solve single- and multi-step problems.
- Solve single- and multi-step problems involving percentages.
- Solve single- and multi-step problems involving measurement quantities, units, and unit conversion.
- Given a scatter plot, use linear, quadratic, or exponential models to describe how the variables are related.
- Use the relationship between two variables to investigate key features of the graph.
- Compare linear growth with exponential growth.
- Use two-way tables to summarize categorical data and relative frequencies, and calculate conditional probability.
- Make inferences about population parameters based on sample data.
- Use statistics to investigate measures of the center of data and analyze shape, center, and spread.
- Evaluate reports to make inferences, justify conclusions, and determine the appropriateness of data collection methods.
- Problem Solving and Data Analysis, which is about being quantitatively literate has a total of 17 total questions.
- Advanced Math, which features questions that require the manipulation of complex equations has a total of 16 total questions.
- Create a quadratic or exponential function
- Determine the most suitable form of an expression
- Create equivalent expressions involving rational exponents
- Create an equivalent form of an algebraic expression
- Solve a quadratic equation
- Add, subtract, and multiply polynomial expressions
- Solve an equation in one variable that contains radicals or contains the variable in the denominator of a fraction.
- Solve a system of one linear equation and one quadratic equation.
- Rewrite simple rational expressions.
- Interpret parts of nonlinear expressions in terms of their context.
- Understand the relationship between zeros and factors of polynomials
- Understand a nonlinear relationship between two variables
- Use function notation and interpret statements using function notation.
- Use structure to isolate or identify a quantity of interest
- Additional Topics in Math, including the geometry and trigonometry most relevant to college and career readiness, has a total of 6 total questions.
- Solve problems using volume formulas.
- Use trigonometric ratios and the Pythagorean theorem
- Add, subtract, multiply, divide, and simplify complex numbers.
- between degrees and radians and use radians to determine arc lengths; use trigonometric functions of radian measure.
- Apply theorems about circles to find arc lengths, angle measures, chord lengths, and areas of sectors.
- Use concepts and theorems about congruence and similarity to solve problems about lines, angles, and triangles.
- Use the relationship between similarity, right triangles, and trigonometric ratios; use the relationship between sine and cosine of complementary angles.
- Create or use an equation in two variables to solve a problem about a circle in the coordinate plane.
Finally, be sure to know the correct bubble skills and methods required for the Student Produced “Grid In” problems. Especially since the test will be administered online make sure students know how bubbling will work and look like online! See the correct bubbling skills and methods on the College Board web-site at: https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/inside-the-test/math.
To read our overall explanation of the Indiana SAT, click here. INcompassing Education will be hosting virtual trainings on each component. Please contact us to learn more.
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Read more of Bill Reed’s blogs:
- The 411 on the Indiana SAT Assessment
- IN SAT Reading & Writing Assessment
- IN SAT Writing & Language Assessment
- 13 Excellent Education Blogs
- 12 Best Math & Science Books for Teachers
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