Category: Mathematics

How to Solve Those Impossible SAT Math Problems

There are some math problems on the SAT that seem impossible. The good news is that they just seem that way. As you move through the math section, the problems become more complex. By the time you reach the end, you are facing the toughest questions. Many students are unable to tackle these questions because they have run out of time by the time they get there. Fortunately, you don’t lose points when a question isn’t answered. However, answering it correctly is going to gain points and you want as many points as possible.

sat math problems

Before diving into the math section, there are some things that you need to keep in mind. The first is that the traditional high school math formula is not going to help you. The second is that you have to engage in outside-of-the-box thinking and be a problem solver. The third is that you have to find a convenient method or hidden pattern in order to simplify a problem.

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Tackling Rare SAT Combinations and Permutations

Combinations and permutations are not common on the SAT. They normally appear on the last page of the math section and are almost always presented as a word problem. If you want to achieve a score over 700 on the math section of the SAT, you will need to practice these, as they involve choosing for a group (combination) or arranging a group (permutation).

sat permutations

While arranging a group (permutations) can seem rather simple, arranging the order of things can actually be somewhat difficult. In fact, students frequently overlook the aspect of permutation and combination. For instance, “repetition” means the same choice can be used twice or even more and students may not realize this. Here is an example of a permutation question with repetition:

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SAT Math Tip: Practice the Most-Tested Concepts

You may not be a math genius (or maybe you are), but that doesn’t mean that you can’t improve your SAT math score by spending a great deal of your study time on the concepts that are tested the most. One thing you can count on is that the SAT isn’t like the ACT in that you don’t have to worry about trigonometry. That is a bonus for a majority of students. What you do have to know is some basic algebra and geometry.

sat math tip

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Types of SAT Math Problems

As you’re preparing for the SAT, it’s important to note the different types of SAT math problems you’ll be faced with on the exam. Much of what’s covered should be familiar to you from your high school math classes. However, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on areas you’re not so familiar with.

SAT math problems
Image Source: Aaron Escobar

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