SAT Math Section: Your Guide to Success (digital SAT included!)

Student working on math as practice for the SAT Math section.

The math section of the SAT can be a challenge for many test takers, but with the right strategies and preparation, it’s more than possible to achieve your target score.

In this blog, we will provide you with a comprehensive overview of:

— The SAT Math section (including tips and strategies for tackling the exam),

— An in-depth analysis of the content covered,

— A discussion of the format changes introduced by the digital SAT.

Whether you’re aiming for a perfect score overall or simply trying to improve your score in the Math section, we’ll help you to succeed on the SAT Math Test. So, let’s dive in and explore everything you need to know about SAT Math!

SAT Math section content overview

Many students review algebra, geometry, and statistics before taking the SAT Math section.
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The SAT Math section tests a wide range of math concepts and skills, including algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and basic arithmetic. The content is divided into two main subsections: the calculator and non-calculator sections.

The calculator section obviously allows the use of a calculator, while on the non-calculator section, you’re flying solo. In addition to traditional multiple-choice questions, the SAT Math section also includes grid-in questions, where students must enter their answers as numerical values. However, this will change when the SAT goes fully digital in Spring 2024.

Along those lines, the digital format does introduce some new features, such as the ability to use a digital calculator and the inclusion of drag-and-drop questions.

On top of that, the digital format has dynamic content like interactive graphs and charts–which may be used to present information or test specific skills. While the transition to a digital SAT adds some new features, the essential content and skills examined in the SAT Math section remain largely unchanged.

SAT Math section breakdown

The SAT Math section is a crucial part of the SAT assessment, as it evaluates a student’s knowledge of mathematical reasoning and their aptitude for solving problems using various methods. This section of the exam is designed to assess a student’s mathematical acumen.

SAT Math is often considered to be more difficult than PSAT Math. While both exams cover similar math concepts, the SAT questions tend to be more complicated and require a deeper understanding of the concepts. The SAT Math section also has more questions than the PSAT Math section, and the time limit is longer (which may increase the difficulty level).

As mentioned, the SAT Math section is split into two sections, with each section having its own score: the non-calculator part and the calculator part. Both sections have multiple-choice and grid-in questions.

Understanding the sectional breakdown and being familiar with the types of questions that’ll be presented are essential for scoring well on the exam.

What kind of math is on the SAT?

The SAT Math section contains questions from a range of math disciplines, with a focus on algebra, geometry, data analysis, statistics, and probability. While the exact number of questions from each category can vary from test to test, on average, the SAT Math section is typically divided into the following percentages of each type of math:


Approximately 35-40% of the Math section comprises Algebra questions. These questions may cover topics such as linear equations, functions, and quadratic equations.


Roughly 25-30% of the Math section focuses on Geometry. Geometry questions may cover topics such as coordinate geometry, triangles, and circles.

Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability

The remaining 25-30% of the Math section includes questions related to data analysis, statistics, and probability. These questions may cover topics such as graph interpretation, data representation, and probability calculations.

It’s important to keep in mind that while these numbers are a rough estimate, they may not be exact across all tests. No matter the exact proportions, it’s essential to have a good grasp of all the math topics tested in the SAT Math section to do well.

Strategies for success on the SAT Math section

The SAT Math section is difficult but very manageable with preparation.
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The SAT Math section is arguably the toughest part of the SAT exam. It can be a challenging and intimidating part for many. To overcome this, you need effective and tested strategies specifically geared to help you get a great score.

Let’s go through some of the best strategies to succeed on the SAT Math Test.

1. Familiarize yourself with the SAT Math Test format

To succeed in the SAT Math section, it is important to become familiar with the test format. Understanding the types of questions on the test, the time restriction for each section, and how to manage your time wisely are all part of this.

On the paper version of the SAT Math section, for example, has both multiple-choice and grid-in questions. Multiple-choice questions offer response options, whereas grid-in questions ask you to fill out a grid with your solution. You should also be aware of the scoring system and penalties for wrong answers.

Check out the College Board website for examples of the newer digital SAT questions that will be rolled out in the 2024 SAT cycle.

2. Focus on your weaknesses

Another essential strategy for SAT Math is to concentrate on your weaknesses. To begin, you should identify the areas where you struggle the most. This could include taking a practice test or analyzing past test results. Once you’ve discovered your areas of weakness, you can devise a study plan that focuses on strengthening your skills in those areas.

3. Use all available resources

An effective method for SAT Math preparation is to use all accessible resources. This covers SAT Math preparation tests and materials, as well as online resources and review books.

Oftentimes, these resources can be expensive. To help you save, we wrote a previous post that outlines numerous great budget-friendly and FREE study materials.

Also, the College Board, which administers the SAT, offers official practice tests and sample questions on its website. These resources can help you get a grip on the test format and question patterns.

4. Develop a study plan

It’s obvious that you need to develop a study plan to succeed in SAT math. To do this, you should first assess your strengths and weaknesses and create a plan that focuses on improving your weak areas. Set aside devoted study time each day and create a calendar with precise goals and objectives.

A range of materials, like textbooks, online courses, and practice exams, should be included in your study schedule to help you reinforce your understanding of various concepts.

5. Use your calculator efficiently

While the SAT Math part is designed to assess your mathematical abilities, you can use a calculator for some questions. Skillfully using your calculator can save you time and improve your accuracy.

You should become acquainted with the functions of your calculator and learn how to use it to answer problems quickly and correctly. You can also use your calculator to double-check your work and confirm your answers.

6. Learn to read the question

SAT Math provides a range of question types, some of which may be more complex than others. To accurately answer each question, you must carefully read the question and understand what is being asked.

Pay attention to the question’s language and determine the main facts and steps required to answer the questions. Scratch paper can also be used to jot down crucial information or to work through a problem step by step.

7. Practice mental math

Even though SAT allows the use of a calculator for some questions, it’s still important to be able to solve problems without completely relying on one. Practicing mental math techniques, such as estimation or quick calculation tricks, can help you solve problems more efficiently and accurately.

For example, you can practice adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing numbers in your head, or simplify complex expressions to their simplest forms. By developing your mental math skills, you can save time and improve your performance on the SAT.

8. Solve problems in multiple ways

Some SAT Math problems can be solved using multiple methods. By studying a variety of problem-solving approaches, you’ll be able to select the most efficient solution for each question and avoid getting stuck on difficult ones. For example, you might be able to solve a problem algebraically, geometrically, or by combining the two. You can also examine your work and verify your results by solving problems in multiple ways.

9. Practice with time constraints

The Math section of the SAT is timed, which means you’ll have a limited amount of time to answer each question. To prepare for this, you should practice taking timed math tests. Start by taking full-length practice exams under test-like conditions to get a sense of the time pressure and to help build your speed. You can then gradually reduce the amount of time you spend on each question as you become more comfortable with the test format.

10. Eliminate wrong answers

You may not know how to solve a particular problem at times, but you can increase your chances of getting the right answer by eliminating obvious erroneous options. Estimation, for example, can be used to remove answer options that are either too high or too low. You can also use the information in the question to remove answers that are illogical or inconsistent. This helps you improve your chances of getting the correct answer even if you are unsure about it.

SAT Math section: The big picture

Preparing for the SAT Math requires concentration, strategic planning, and consistent practice. You can improve your performance and get the score you want by following our strategies. You may also consider working with a Lessonpal online SAT Math tutor. if you need further assistance or supervision.

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