SAT Math: Tackling Probability, Statistics and Data Analysis Problems

SAT data analysis, probability and statistics problems are best approached with a strong understanding of averages, median and mode and a confident ability to read charts, tables and graphs. The following tips will help you familiarize yourself with key points for answering these data analysis, probability and statistics questions on the SAT Math portion of the exam.

Mean (Averages):

  • It’s important to remember the relationship between average, sum of numbers, and the number of numbers. You are normally provided with TWO parts. Plug them into the formula to find the third part.

Please note that the words ‘mean’ and ‘average’ are used interchangeably.

  • Choosing your own numbers and plugging them into the problem is useful for many questions that ask for the mean.
  • Do not average two averages; this is a common mistake. What you should do instead is to find the average of the COMBINED group of numbers.

Median and Mode:

  • The Median is the middle value that splits a group of numbers into two equal parts.
  • When approaching median questions, always arrange the group of numbers from smallest to largest. For bar graphs, remember to count from the smallest value and up, and then find the middle value.
  • The Mode is the most frequently occurring number in the numbers set or group.


  • Solve geometric probability questions by dividing a specific area by the area of the whole region. This will give a portion or percentage value for that specific area.
  • For percentage rate problems, plug in 100 for any unknown value. Be careful to either work in decimals or fractions, not both at the same time.

Graphs and Charts

  • Before starting with questions that involve graphs, charts and tables, take a second to understand what data are given and interpret the information presented carefully. Also, be sure to read the question throughly to find out what you are asked to solve.


  • One of the best underused strategies for combination questions is to look at the answer choices: If the numbers are fairly small, it’s advisable to list all possible combinations in a systematic and organized way.
  • When the number of combinations is too large to list, use the Fundamental Principle of Counting to solve the problem: With n1 possible outcomes for the first set of numbers, and for each of these there are n2 possible outcomes for the second, the total number of possible outcomes is calculated by the product of the two.

The above tips to approach data analysis, probability and statistics problems will help achieve greater success in these SAT Math sections. Options Solutions can assist you with your SAT Math prep on an individual basis to get you ready for your next SAT Exam. Give us a call at 604-922-8456 or email us at for more information. Follow our blog to receive regular SAT tips and strategies.