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.
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.
The Exploratory Problem-Solving Approach
You can’t necessarily memorize your way to success in the math section. You can practice and that will help a great deal. However, the math section is going to require that you think creatively. Here are some ways to better improve your score on the math section:
Make sure you understand any strange definitions in the question. This is where practice is going to come in useful because you need to be familiar with the various terms. Some terms may be different than what you have learned in your high school math classes.
Look for a pattern or see if you can simplify the problem on your own. Most SAT math problems can be solved in 2 to 3 minutes, so there is always a pattern or trick that can be used. For instance, take the number 10,000, solve for 100 instead. This is simplifying the problem.
Solve the larger problem after you have solved a simplified version of it. The simplified version can typically be extended to the larger problem.
Sometimes students look at a math problem and they are automatically intimidated by it. The truth is that you have to be creative and think of a way to make it simpler. Because these problems may take a little more time, it is best to answer the easy ones first and then go back to the hard ones. If you absolutely cannot find the answer, then it is best to skip the problem.
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