SAT Math: How to Stay Focused

As we mentioned in our problem-solving tips post, the biggest challenges for students on the math section of the SAT often don’t actually involve math!

Most SAT math questions require a student to juggle a lot of information, combine multiple types of math, and perform multi-step calculations. That’s why creativity and concentration can make all the difference between a mediocre score and a great one.

Let’s talk about concentration.

We all know it’s hard to focus when you’ve been doing hours and hours of SAT questions, but keeping yourself organized and on point can help you avoid careless errors in your math or even in how you read the question.

We’ve already given you one great tip in our creativity post for focusing: circle or underline what the question is asking for. Often, SAT problems trip students up because they ask for something other than the logical thing to solve for, like asking for x^2 instead of x. Taking a second to mark what the question is actually seeking will help you avoid errors that could stem from misreading the problem or wrongly assuming what the question is asking.

Another great tip for staying focused is to write out your scratch work in a clear and organized way. Even if you can do complex math in your head, write it down! This will help you avoid careless arithmetic errors and save you time when you need to check your work or back up a step to fix an error you’ve caught.

You’ve already learned the equations and formulas you need for the exam. Now, with these simple strategies for approaching the questions creatively and with focused concentration, you’re well-equipped to achieve your best score on the math section of the SAT.

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Sheila A.

Sheila Akbar is President & COO of Signet Education. She holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Harvard University and two doctoral degrees from Indiana University. She joined the team in the summer of 2010, bringing with her a wealth of experience teaching SAT, ACT, GRE, literature, and composition in both one-on-one and classroom settings.

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