SAT Math: How To Improve Your Score On Algebra I Problems

After taking the May 5th SAT exam and now preparing for the next sitting on June 2nd, it is prudent to evaluate your performance in the Math section and target the types of questions and Math areas that you need to improve upon. Doing a personal assessment on what algebraic problems, such as solving equations with inequalities, word problems, exponentials, roots and factoring, are posing a challenge is one thing you could do to drive up your score in the SAT Math section.

It is helpful to know what to do when you encounter the following algebraic concepts and their question types:

  • When simplifying fractions involving large numbers, find out if a given number will divide evenly into both the numerator and denominator. For example, if a number is divisible by 2, then its last digit is 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8. If a number is divisible by 3, then the sum of the digits is divisible by 3, and so forth.
  • When solving ‘letter-heavy’ problems, translate the word problem or sentence into an algebraic equation. Firstly, solve for the letter variable you have information for, and then replace the other letters with numbers to determine the steps needed to get to the solution. If two equations in the system are alike, you can sometimes solve them easily by combining equations.
  • Balancing equations as a law of equality: what ever you add, subtract, multiply, divide or square on one side of the equation, you must do the same to the other side to maintain the balance.
  • When working with exponentials,
    • add the exponents when multiplying or subtract the exponents when dividing and leave the bases the same;
    • multiply (or divide) the bases and leave the exponents alone if the exponents are the same.
  • When factoring polynomials, think of ‘distribution in reverse.’ This means that you can check your factoring by distributing or FOILing the factors to make sure that the result is the original expression.
  • The Zero Product Property: If the product of a set of numbers is 0, then at least one of the numbers in the set must be 0. And the only product property is the Zero Product Property.
  • Absolute values as distances: The absolute value of x, written as |x|, means the distance from x to zero on the number line. Since distances are never negative, they are not absolute values.

The above key points and approaches to algebra I problems will help you tackle these types of questions better. To be more effective with using the above rules, do more of these kinds of SAT Math problems.