According to the College board, the owner of SAT, the math part of the test focuses on 3 areas predominantly – “Heart of Algebra”, “Problem Solving & Data Analysis” and “Passport to Advanced Math” (named by College board). All of the questions in these areas are mostly of high school level, sometimes even lower (these are the one you would have learned sometime in the school) .To know what makes the SAT math challenging, let’s understand a few characteristics of it.
Tricky Element Of SAT Though the latest SAT’s math aims more at testing student’s conceptual understanding than analytical ability, the questions are seldom straight forward. The tricky element of the questions is still retained. For example, a question on “solving linear equations” (Heart of algebra) – One would generally find solving a system of 2 linear equations : 2x + 3y=5 and 3x-2y=1 easy and straight forward. The same concept, when tested on the SAT would be slightly trickier.
Tricky Problem 1: Find the x or y coordinate of the point of intersection of 2 lines: x=5 and y=x-1. The line x=5 doesn’t have a ‘y term’. A student could get stuck for a while in figuring out the solution as he is traditionally used to solve a system of linear equations containing both x, y terms by the process of either ‘elimination’ or ‘substitution’.
Confusingly,Verbose Questions The second characteristic of a SAT math question is its wordy nature. The questions generally don’t run into more than 4-5 lines. However, they are wordy considering the time it takes to disentangle the key information from the question, relevant to form the math equations. For example, this question below on “proportions” (problem solving and data analysis) –
Tricky Problem 2 : Santa’s short suit shrunk at a rate of 1mm (length) a year and it was 1265 mm in the year 1652. What would be 4 mm more than the length of his suit 5 years before 1961?
Firstly, 5 years before 1961 would be the year 1956. Given the information that the suit shrunk at 1 mm every year, from the year 1652 to 1961, the length would have reduced by 309 mm (1961-1652), reducing the length to 956mm (1265-309). However, there is more to entangle! The question is asking about 4 mm more than this. It would hence be 960 mm (956+4). The same question could have also been framed as ‘1265-(1961-1652) + 4 =? '.This is exactly what differentiates a SAT wordy question from a typical math arithmetic question.
Concept Testing The last characteristic we discuss in this post is the ‘concept testing’ objective of the questions. This is what differentiates most of the new SAT math questions from those in the old SAT. A student’s conceptual knowledge seems to be tested more often than his analytical abilities in the new SAT math questions though there are still quite a few questions a test taker could do better with good analytical abilities. For example, a question on “quadratic equations” (passport to advanced math) – Tricky Problem 3 : If the quadratic function “f(x) = 4x2-12x+9” is represented by the parabola shown in the figure, the graph of the parabola “f(x) = 12x-9-4x2” would be:
a reflection of it about the x-axis
a reflection of it about the y-axis
a reflection about the line x=y
the same as earlier
The time required to solve & answer the above question with option A would not exceed 30 seconds if one knew the concept: graph of the function f(x) is the reflection of the graph of –f(x) about the x-axis & vice versa.
SAT Math Prep Webinar-Tips & Strategies
Fabmarks conducted a webinar on 15th Oct 2016 to help students preparing for SAT.In this video, you will learn proven strategies and problem-solving skills to rock your SAT Math.Click to view more SA...
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