My approach to SAT Math sections (with and without Calculator)

1. Pace yourself (Bring a watch – seriously)

You have a little more than a minute to answer each question. Remember, there is no penalty for guessing, so do not leave any blanks, even if it’s not a multiple choice question. There are some questions that are super easy that you can answer in a few seconds. These are usually the first 10 questions on SAT No Calculator section and first 15 questions on the SAT Calculator one. Then there are those that may take a little more time, for example, a super long equation or word problem ‘essay.’ There may even be a problem that simply eludes understanding or for which you remember the formula. Nothing to stress about—it happens.

My rule-of-thumb is to spend on average 45 seconds per question. It’s kind of an internal clock that you develop as you practice. Don’t count or check your watch for the elapsed time. Simply approach a question with an open mind. You will have an idea if you need to spend more than the average time on a question after the initial read. If it doesn’t quite click, read it again. If not, it is a hard question. Working through a problem in a non-testing environment is good, but it’s not advisable when you’re under time constraints. Trust me, I learned that the hard way. And it’s fine because you are not expected to know everything.

2. Fluess

Fortunately, most of the problems are multiple choice (your best friend, right?). If it happens that you don’t know the answer, always make an educated guess. If an educated guess doesn’t come to mind, make a Fluess: Flash guess, get it? Because you are going to make it so fast you can’t even see it. So you are going to pick your lucky letter of the day (A, B, C, or D) and whenever you get stuck and can’t make an educated guess, just use that one letter for all the guessing on the test (including math and English).

However–and this is important–if you make an educated guess or fluess, you should circle that question to come back to it later if you have time. Try to not circle more than 10 questions, otherwise you would feel overwhelmed when you go back. It’s unlikely that there will be more than 10 hard questions, anyway.

At the end of the testing section, remember to take a break; or breathe, as they say in zen-land. You just finished the whole section in 30 minutes with fewer than 10 guesses. That must boost your confidence, yeah?

3. Check your work

Now we go back to those circled guesses (or fluesses). We might have about 10 minutes left. During these last several minutes, I suggest picking the 5th -15th and 25th to 30th question (exclude circled guess) to redo completely to avoid careless mistakes. Double check your answer sheet to see if there are any missing answers.

It sounds like a piece of cake right? Let’s tackle ittttt.

4. Practice

To be honest, it wasn’t that easy for me at first. “Definitely not,” as many of my students have said. But they did it. I did it. And you can to. Try it. Or at least keep some ideas in the back of your mind so you feel more comfortable with the time constraints and don’t waste too much time on a hard question (it’s just not worth it).

And what’s is the keyword again? PRACTICE.

There are different ways to approach these questions as well. Call Apollo Tutoring today at 510.999.8860 and get ready. We will build your knowledge and testing strategies that work uniquely for you.

Posted on: 2017-11-29 00:34:28

Posted by: Gwen Nguyen

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