Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

SAT Math tips: Multiple-choice questions

The SAT Math section has multiple-choice items and student-produced response questions that test problem-solving skills and knowledge of numbers and operations, Algebra I and II skills and functions, geometry and measurement, and data analysis, statistics and probability. To quickly grasp the format and mathematical parameters of the SAT Math problems, first of all, read the notes on the use of calculator, real numbers, figures and shapes not drawn to scale and the assumption that the domain of the function f is a set of all real numbers x for which f(x) is a real number. Also, recognize that the formulas for calculating the area and circumference of a circle (don’t get these two confused), the area and volume of certain figures, and the sides and angles of special right triangles are given in the reference information section.

Before we get into how to prepare and tackle the problems in these topics themselves, test-takers need to understand and be familiar with the multiple-choice questions and how to approach them:

Answering multiple-choice questions:

  • The questions are ordered from less difficult to more difficult as you move through each of the three SAT Math sections. Do the easy questions first as you pace yourself in each section.
  • Before you solve each problem, ask yourself: What is the question asking? What information am I given? For example, read the question carefully to know whether it is asking for the “greatest” or “smallest” value of x, the “odd” or “even” integer, or “product” or “sum” of the values.
  • Once you’ve determined what the question is asking, answer the question by working out the problem in your test booklet. Check that your answer makes sense. Check your problem-solving steps from the beginning to end.
  • Substitute the answer choices. Use logic to plug in the values that best fit and eliminate any wrong answer that you can see right away. Some problems may look like you need to use a complicated equation to answer the question, but if you read the question carefully, you will quickly discover that you figure out the answer without going through long problem-solving steps.
  • When you can eliminate at least one choice, make an educated guess from the list. At least two of the five answers are fairly easy to identify as distractors or throw-away answers.

In our next SAT Math tip blog, we’ll look at solving student-produced response questions!

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