If you don’t know how to solve a math problem on the SAT, here’s a convenient trick that’s super easy to use. If there are variables in the question or answer, just plug in your own numbers and you’ll get the correct answer! For best results, always start with 3 or higher. Using 2 or 1 won’t give you the wrong answer, but sometimes it doesn’t help narrow down the choices. Take a look at this example:
If t is a number greater than 1, then t2 is how much greater than t?
A) 1 B) 2 C) t(t-1) D) (t-1)((t+1)
If you substitute t for 2, then t2 equals 4, right (2*2=4)? That makes t2 (4) greater than t (2) by 2 (4-2=2). Here’s the problem. That not only makes B the correct answer, it also makes C the correct answer. But there can only be one correct answer and that’s why using 2 or 1 is problematic.
Now, let’s substitute t for 3 which makes t2 equal 6 (3*2=6). Following along? Great! This makes t2 (6) greater than t (3) by 3 (6-3=3). The only answer choice that makes this statement true is C, t(t-1). Pretty easy, right? You don’t have to choose 3, you can choose 4, 5, or any other number above 3, but the smaller the number the easier the arithmetic will be for you.
The last thing to remember about SAT math is that all questions are worth the same amount of points. Also, the questions gradually increase in difficulty. Since the easiest questions are worth the same as the most difficult, there’s no reason to rush to the end. Be quick, but be careful to answer every question correctly, especially the easy ones!
For more amazing advice and incredible strategies for conquering SAT math, check out Brightstorm SAT Math. Be sure to also check out our other three posts on how to boost your SAT score.