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What Kind of Math Is on the SAT? Everything You Need To Know!

Want to know the full SAT math topics? We’ve laid out all the topics you need to prepare for, plus you get to download a free SAT math cheat sheet here!

The math section of the SAT is an opportunity for you to showcase your analysis and problem-solving skills. The SAT is known for its creative and tricky math section, but of course, with the right preparation and strategy, you can take on the SAT math section confidently. It begins with knowing what to expect and preparing yourself for the math topics covered in the SAT math. This article will show you what type of math is on the SAT and provide you with the essentials to help you ace the SAT math!

What Math Is on the SAT? Understanding the SAT Math Sections

The SAT math assesses your math skills by covering these four major content areas: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math, and Additional Topics in Math. These content topics will be spread out across the last two sections of the SAT. While preparing for the SAT, you might encounter math problems that might seem unfamiliar to you but don’t worry, all SAT math topics have been discussed in your Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Pre-calculus classes.

The SAT math is divided into two parts for the pen and paper SAT: Section 3 (No Calculator section) and Section 4 (Calculator section).  For the No Calculator section, you are allowed to solve 20 questions in 25 minutes. Meanwhile, the Calculator section, which is the longer section, expects you to answer 38 problems within 55 minutes. The table below summarizes everything you need to know about the time allotted for the SAT math sections and the type of questions to expect from the SAT:

There are a total of 45 multiple-choice questions and 13 grid-in questions. The grid-in questions require students to enter their answers on the answer sheet. Here’s a sample of how the math section’s answer sheet would look. 

There are a total of 45 multiple-choice questions and 13 grid-in questions. The grid-in questions require students to enter their answers on the answer sheet. Take a look at the image above for a sample of how the math section’s answer sheet would look. 

What Are the SAT Math Topics and Content Areas?

The SAT Math questions cover four content areas of math: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math, and Additional Topics in Math. These areas encompass the different math concepts discussed in your math classes. These topics are the fundamental concepts that you need to be successful in your math lessons in college. 

The College Board has provided the breakdown of the average number of questions for each content area. Check the table below to have a quick overview of how you should plan out your SAT math study plan.

Now, what topics do you need to study to ace these four content areas? Here’s what you need about each content area:

  1. Heart of Algebra: Problems belonging to this category involve linear equations, inequalities, functions, and graphs. Through this content area, your capability of solving word problems, solving equations,  simplifying expressions, and interpreting formulas will be tested.
  1. Problem Solving and Data Analysis: Questions belonging to this category highlights your analytical skills especially when taking on problems that involve rates, ratio, proportions, percentages, finding statistical values, and interpreting graphs. In pen and paper SAT, expect a series of related questions that make use of a shared table or chart where you find quantitive and qualitative data.
  1. Passport to Advanced Math: This content area covers most of what you’ve learned in Algebra II. Throughout the two SAT math sections, you’ll encounter math problems involving quadratic functions, exponential equations, and multi-step word problems. Expect to work with polynomials and more complicated expressions.
  1. Additional Topics in Math: The SAT will also contain a few geometry, trigonometry, and complex number questions. The additional topics included in the SAT are all relevant for you to test your college readiness. 

If you’re looking for a way to categorize these content areas based on your high curriculum, don’t worry we got you! Here’s a summary of the math categories and topics that will be covered in the SAT:

We’ve included the average number of questions since some Algebra questions will overlap between Heart of Algebra and Passport to Advanced Math. If you want a PDF copy of these topics, check out our math formula cheat that covers all the SAT math topics. Great news – it’s FREE here at AceIt!

We’ve broken down the SAT math topics for you, we hope that we answered your question, “What type of math is on the SAT?”. Use the number of questions to strategically plan out your focused review. Know your weak areas and address them as soon as possible. 

What Are Some Tips to Ace the SAT Math?

Before we wrap up this article, let us give you some tips to supercharge your SAT prep and give you the confidence you need to take on the SAT math section!

  1. Remember that you have 80 minutes to finish all 58 questions. Time yourself when you do practice questions and learn some time management techniques.
  2. Use the content areas we’ve laid out for you and immediately identify your strengths and weaknesses.
  3. Be strategic when choosing your calculator. Learn when it’s best to solve the problems by hand or with the help of your calculating device.
  4. Practice questions formatted like the actual SAT math questions. This is where AceIt’s AI-powered system excels, it provides you with unlimited practice questions!
  5. If you’re taking the digital SAT, make sure that you allot enough time to practice digital surfaces. Research how pen and paper SAT differs from the digital SAT.

At first glance, preparing for the SAT Math section may seem daunting. Don’t worry, with enough practice, focused review, and test-taking strategies, you’ll surely ace this section. Take the time to address weak areas, learn some calculator tricks for the SAT, and download math cheat sheets like the one we have here at AceIt. Do your best and you’ll surely get that target SAT score!



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About AceIt

AceIt delivers personalized, adaptive test prep through AI technology. Our platform gets to know you to create a customized study plan targeting your weaknesses. The more you use AceIt, the smarter it gets, continuously tailoring your SAT prep for better results than one-size-fits-all manuals. With flexible subscriptions, we make achieving your goals affordable. AceIt is your AI tutor, coach, and study buddy in one platform.

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