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The SAT ® Important Information about the Math section. Math Section Measures problem-solving skills. Emphasis on math reasoning: SAT math measures the ability to apply math content to real-life problems.

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math section measures problem solving skills
Math SectionMeasures problem-solving skills
  • Emphasis on math reasoning: SAT math measures the ability to apply math content to real-life problems.
  • The SAT is unique in having some “grid-in” questions requiring student-produced responses—as recommended by NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics).
content in the sat and the psat nmsqt
Content in the SAT and the PSAT/NMSQT


  • Quantitative comparisons has been eliminated
  • The content reflects the mathematics that college-bound students typically learn during their first three years of high school.
  • The reasoning aspects of the test together with the expanded content more effectively assess the mathematics necessary for student success in college.
calculator policy8
Calculator Policy
  • A scientific or graphing calculator will be recommended for the test.
  • Though every question can still be answered without a calculator, calculators are definitely encouraged.
  • Previously, a basic 4-function calculator was recommended, but now scientific is the base level recommendation.
  • Students should bring a calculator with which they are comfortable and familiar.
calculator policy9
Calculator Policy

The following are not permitted:

  • Powerbooks and portable/handheld computers
  • Electronic writing pads or pen-input/stylus-driven(e.g., Palm, PDAs, Casio ClassPad 300)
  • Pocket organizers
  • Models with QWERTY (i.e., typewriter) keyboards(e.g., TI-92 Plus, Voyage 200)
  • Models with paper tapes
  • Models that make noise or “talk”
  • Models that require an electrical outlet
  • Cell phone calculators
enhanced math section

EnhancedMath Section

Number and Operations

the math section number and operations
The Math SectionNumber and Operations

Sequences involving exponential growth

  • Questions that require knowledge of exponential growth or geometric sequences.

Example: 7, 21, 63, 189, … is a geometric sequence that has constant ratio 3 and begins with the term 7. The term obtained after multiplying n times by 3 is 7 x 3n

  • Since these sequences have real-life applications, questions might be presented in contexts such as population growth.

Example: a population that initially numbers 100 and grows by doubling every eight years. The expression 100 x 2 would give the population t years after it begins to grow.



the math section number and operations12
The Math SectionNumber and Operations

Sets (union, intersection, elements)

  • Questions might ask about the union of two sets(i.e., the set consisting of elements that are in either set or both sets) or the intersection of two sets(i.e., the set of common elements).

Example: If set X is the set of positive even integers and set Y is the set of positive odd integers, a question might ask students to recognize that the union of the two sets is the set of all positive integers.

math section

Math Section

Algebra and Functions

math section algebra and functions
Math SectionAlgebra and Functions

Absolute Value

  • Students should be familiar with both the concept and notation of absolute value and be able to work with expressions, equations, and functions that involve absolute value.

Rational Equations and Inequalities

  • Example: . Equations or inequalities involving such expressions will be included on the new SAT

Radical Equations

  • Example:
math section algebra and functions15
Math SectionAlgebra and Functions

Integer and Rational Exponents

  • The SAT will have expressions such as z-3 involving negative exponents.
  • There will also be expressions such as m where the exponent is a rational number.



math section algebra and functions16
Math SectionAlgebra and Functions

Integer and Rational Exponents–Sample Problem

If x-3=64, what is the value of x ?



(C) 4

(D) 8

(E) 16

Correct Answer: B

What’s new about this question?The current SAT has questions involving positive integer exponents. The new SAT will have expressions involving negative exponents, such as x-3, and fractional exponents, such as x .









math section algebra and functions17
Math SectionAlgebra and Functions

Direct and Inverse Variation

  • Questions involving quantities that are directly proportional to each other.
  • The quantities x and y are directly proportional if y= kx, for some constant k. They are said tobe inversely proportional if y= for some constant k



math section algebra and functions18
Math SectionAlgebra and Functions

Function Notation

  • Students should be familiar with both the concept ofa function and with function notation.
  • Example: If the function f is defined by f(x) = x + 2x, students should know that f(5) = 5 + 25 = 37.
math section algebra and functions19
Math SectionAlgebra and Functions

Function Notation–Sample Problem

If f is a linear function and if f(6)=7 and f(8)=12,what is the slope of the graph of f in the xy-plane.

Correct Answer: or 2.5



math section algebra and functions20
Math SectionAlgebra and Functions

Concepts of Domain and Range

  • The SAT will include questions that ask about values of x at which a particular function is not defined (outside the domain), or values that f(x) cannot equal (outside the range).

Functions as Models

  • The SAT will include questions that involve mathematical models of real-life situations.
  • A question might present information about the projected sales of a product at various prices and ask for a mathematical model in the form of a graph or equation that represents projected sales as a function of price.
math section algebra and functions21
Math SectionAlgebra and Functions

Linear Functions–Equations and Graphs

  • The SAT will include questions involving linear equations, such as y=mx+b, where m and b are constants.
  • Some questions may involve graphs of linear functions
math section algebra and functions22
Math SectionAlgebra and Functions

Linear Functions–Equations and Graphs–Sample Problem

In the figure above, if line k has a slope of -1,what is the y-intercept of k?

(A) 6

(B) 7

(C) 8

(D) 9

(E) 10

Correct Answer: B

Note: Figure not drawn to scale

math section algebra and functions23
Math SectionAlgebra and Functions

Quadratic Functions– Equations and Graphs

  • Questions involving quadratic equations and/or their graphs may appear on the SAT. For example, a question might involve comparingthe graphs of y=2x2 and y=2(x-1)2.
math section24

Math Section

Geometry and Measurement

math section geometry and measurement
Math SectionGeometry and Measurement

Geometric Notation for Length, Segments, Lines, Rays, and Congruence

  • Geometric notation such as and willbe used. The term “congruent” and the congruence symbol will be used.
math section geometry and measurement26
Math SectionGeometry and Measurement

Problems in which trigonometry may be used as an alternative method of solution

  • The SAT will include more questions that rely on the special properties of 30-60-90 triangles or 45-45-90 triangles.
    • Example: In the triangle below, the value of x can be found by using trigonometry (sin 30o= . But the value of x can also be determined with the knowledge that in a 30-60-90 triangle, the leg opposite the 30-degree angle is half as long as the hypotenuse.



math section geometry and measurement27
Math SectionGeometry and Measurement

Properties of Tangent Lines

  • Questions on the SAT may require knowledge of the property that a line tangent to a circle is perpendicular to a radius drawn to the point of tangency, as illustrated below.
math section geometry and measurement28
Math SectionGeometry and Measurement

Coordinate Geometry

  • Some questions on the SAT may require knowledge of the properties of the slopes of parallelor perpendicular lines.
  • Some questions may require students to find the equations of lines, midpoints of line segments, or distance between two points in the coordinate plane.
math section geometry and measurement29
Math SectionGeometry and Measurement

Qualitative Behavior of Graphs and Functions

  • A question on the SAT might show the graphof a function in the xy-coordinate plane and ask students to give (for portion of graph shown)the number of values of x for which f(x)=3.

Correct Answer: 4

math section geometry and measurement30
Math SectionGeometry and Measurement

Transformations and Their Effect onGraphs of Functions

  • The SAT will include questions that ask students to determine the effect of simple transformations on graphs of functions.
  • Example: Graph of function f(x) could be given and students would be asked questions about the graphof function f(x+2).
math section31

Math Section

Data Analysis, Statistics,and Probability

math section data analysis statistics and probability
Math SectionData Analysis, Statistics, and Probability

Data Interpretation, Scatterplots, and Matrices

  • A question on the SAT might ask about the line of best fit for a scatterplot. Students would be expected to identify the general characteristics of the line of best fit by looking at the scatterplot.
  • Students would not be expected to use formal methods of finding the equation of the line of best fit.
  • Students will be expected to interpret data displayed in tables, charts, and graphs.






Math SectionData Analysis, Statistics, and ProbabilityData Interpretation, Scatterplots, and Matrices–Sample Problem

A science class bought 20 different batteries of various brands and prices. They tested each battery’s duration by seeing how long it would keep a motor running before losing power. For each battery, the class plotted the duration against the price, as shown above. Of the 5 labeled points, which one corresponds to the battery that cost the least amount per hour of duration?

(A) A

(B) B

(C) C

(D) D

(E) E

Correct Answer: C

math section data analysis statistics and probability34
Math SectionData Analysis, Statistics, and Probability

Geometric Probability

  • Example: If a point is to be chosen at random from the interior of a region, part of which is shaded, students might be asked to find the probability that the point chosen will be from the shaded portion.