For many students, the math section of the SAT® is by far the most difficult. With having to answer so many questions in so little time, is it even possible to finish them all? Well, you’ve come to the right place. With these tips on how to pace yourself during the SAT® Math section, you will be finishing the test with time to spare in no time!
Tip #1: Practice
One of the challenges many students face when taking the math section is that they are facing problems they have not encountered before. While they may rely on material you covered in your high school math classes, they often use confusing wordings or require strange problem solving skills. Problems like these often require more time, leaving students stranded at the end of the section with questions unanswered.
The most effective way of preventing these questions from using too much of your time is to simply practice. The matter of fact is that there are only so many tricks and curve balls the college board can throw at you; if you deal with them enough, they will become second nature. A really good approach is to drill the problems that give you trouble by finding more just like them. The goal is not only to recognize mistakes in the problems you get incorrect, but also to better understand how to approach the problems that took you forever to do. This is hands-down the best way to improve speed when working on the SAT® Math section.
There are plenty of practice tests to do this with. By visiting our resources page at supertutortv.com, you can access a bunch of SAT® practice tests with answer keys for free. So practice away!
Tip #2: Don’t do all of the multiple choice first
Sure, the grid-in responses come after the multiple choice questions, but that certainly does not mean that is the order you have to do them in. In fact, it’s generally true that the last few multiple choice questions are harder than the first few grid-in questions. For this reason, it is advantageous to work on the grid-in (the first few, at least) before finishing the multiple choice.
One reason for this is that, unlike with the multiple choice questions, there is little to no possibility of guessing a correct answer on the grid-in questions. You want the best chance possible of getting those correct, so it’s best to do them first! This way, if you still run out of time, you can guess on the remainder of multiple choice questions with a decent chance of picking up some points.
Also, the last multiple choice question is often very difficult, and even if you know how to do it, it can take several minutes. It just makes sense to leave this question or questions like it for the end. Getting to the grid-in questions is crucial for a good score.
Tip #3: Pace yourself
Remember, every question is worth the same number of points! If a question is taking too long, it is simply time to move on. There is no point in spending five minutes on a single question when you could have answered four more questions in that same time frame. If you aren’t familiar with determining how long is too long, we can just do a little math and make the process a little easier.
What you can do is figure out how many minutes you have per question on the test by dividing the total time allotted by the number of questions to be completed. If you want time to spare at the end, simply reduce your “allowed time” number.
For example, the calculator section has 38 questions to be completed in 55 minutes. Let’s say you want to finish with 5 minutes to spare, then you have to do 38 questions in 50 minutes.
Dividing 50 minutes by 38 questions gives you just over 1.3 minutes per question, or 13 minutes for every 10 questions. Now you have concrete numbers as to where you need to be at what time, meaning you can gauge whether you are ahead, behind, or right on track as you move through the test. Hopefully this will help in keeping you going at a steady pace.
Tip #4: Bring a watch
The College Board allows you to bring one, so why don’t you? Just make sure it’s not a smart watch and that it will be silent for the duration of the test (no beeping!). This is much easier than looking at a clock somewhere else in the room or, in some cases, looking for a clock that isn’t there.
Hopefully these tips and tricks help you beat the clock when it comes to SAT® math!