SAT Math

SAT Mathematics Section

The SAT mathematics section includes:

  • 44 multiple choice questions, and
  • 10 response questions (student provides the answer)
    • These questions are similar to the multiple choice questions, except…
    • No answers are provided
    • You must bubble in your answer on an answer grid

Certain information and formulas are provided for the math section as “Reference Information.” The graphic below provides the information given by the SAT math.

Basic math formulas

It’s easy to just glance over these formulas. It’s better to look them over carefully, step-by-step. Even though it may be review, review is good. And, knowing these well will save time on the test. Take time to look over and think about each one right now.

The student response questions are simply math questions, but they have a few perks. See the list below for what makes these questions unique:

  • There are no answer options, you must bubble in your answer
  • Since there’s no way to bubble certain types of answers…
    • There are no negative answers
    • There are no answers greater than 9999
    • There are no irrational answers

The SAT bubble grid for student response questions looks like the image below. There are four blanks. The options are:

  1. leave it blank
  2. decimal
  3. fraction line
  4. a numeral 0-9
Answer grid

There are a few notes you should know about the student response questions and gridding:

  1. Only answers bubbled into the grid will count (not answers hand written)
  2. It’s still good practice to write the answer in up top so you grid correctly
  3. Only one bubble per column
  4. You can place the answer in any column (aligned to the left, right, or centered)
  5. You can grid an answer as a decimal or fraction
    • For instance, $3/4$ would be bubbled as 3 / 4 and .75 would be bubbled as .75 Either would be acceptable.
    • But, mixed numbers, cannot be bubbled. For example $2 {3\over4}$ cannot be bubbled. Convert mixed numbers to either fractions or decimals. $2 {3 \over 4}$ would be bubbled as either ${11 \over 4}$ or 2.75 . In case you don't see how we took $2 {3 \over 4}$ and got ${11 \over 4}$, we took $4*2$ then added the 3 to get 11. Then we put the 11 over the denominator (4).
  6. Repeating decimals must fill the grid when bubbled.
    • They must be bubbled completely and to the closest possible decimal.
    • For instance, if your answer is $2/3$, you can simply bubble 2 / 3, or…
    • You can bubble .666 or .667
    • Just be sure to bubble all four columns of the grid.
    • Quickly double check that you have bubbled in the correct numbers.

Calculators are allowed. Although the SAT says that all math questions can be solved without a calculator, it’s advised that you bring one. Calculators can (1) save a bit of time and (2) help prevent silly errors in computation. There is a golden rule for using calculators on a test though—don’t forget to use common sense! Many students get too calculator-happy and rely on it more than their brain. When you see a problem, don’t automatically go for the calculator. First, think it through, then use the calculator to check your thinking. For example, suppose you were asked:

Which is greater, 33% of 89, or 40? You may want to punch .33 x 89 into your calculator, but that’s a time waster. Just suppose it said “33% of 100.” That’d only be 33, which is course less than 40. Therefore you can correctly say that one-third of 89 can’t be over 40. You don’t need to know exactly what 33% of 89 is, but you know it’s less than 40!

The following types of calculators are allowed:

  • Basic calculators
  • Scientific or graphing calculators

The following types of calculators are not allowed:

  1. Calculators with QWERTY keyboards
  2. Personal digital assistants (PDAs)
  3. Calculators with paper printers
  4. Calculators that make excessive or odd noises
  5. Handheld or laptop computers
  6. Calculators on cell phones
  7. Electronic writing pads or pen-input devices

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