Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

Approach to SAT Math Problems

ePrep  Math  SAT
Karl Schellscheidt

free sat test video The SAT test is coming up this Saturday, October 14! For those of you taking this test and want to prepare for th SAT math questions, I’m going to try to post a few test-specific prepcasts to help you during this final week. First up….Math! It happens to be my favorite subject, but even I get a little worked up when reading through those tough SAT math questions. Stick with me and you can build confidence in how to attack the math section.

Approach to SAT Math Problems (transcript)

Math is my specialty! I love math and it’s easy for me. I want to give you advice on how to approach the math problems in the SAT.

When you look at a math problem on the SAT, it’s going to be something that you have never seen before. You may have seen similar types of problems, but every problem is going to be a new one. Trust me on that! So when you look at it and read a sentence or two for the first time, if it doesn’t make sense to you… do not panic! I am really good at this stuff and I have to read the questions three or four times before it finally starts to sink in what the problem is all about.

So the idea is this, you’re going to be confronted with things you’ve never seen before. There’s going to be that period of confusion where you’ll be struggling to gain understanding. Let’s just say you spend an average of a minute on each math problem. How you spend that minute is very important.

You should spend 40-50 seconds reading the problem over and over to figure out what the problem is all about. If you don’t figure out what the problem is all about, you’re not going to get the right answer! Invest your time to clearly understand what the problem is about after 40-50 seconds; the answer is either going to be obvious or how to get the answer will be quite obvious and you’ll get to it quickly.

The answer is really something that comes at the very end of the problem and don’t panic. If you get to the end and you don’t understand it, skip it and move on. Don’t worry about it.

So if you go through the test spending about a minute on each problem, you would have had a look at each one and picked up all the easy points for yourself. Then you go back and try to work on the ones that you had trouble with. If in a minute or two later they tell you to put your pencil down, you won’t panic because you’ve had a look at each problem; you’ve picked up all the easy ones and the ones that were left… maybe you’re going to get them, maybe you’re not. It is a much better feeling then having the administrator say “Put your pencil down” and you haven’t even looked at the last five.

So try to put yourself on the pace of about a minute per question. If it doesn’t come together after 40-50 seconds, skip it and move on to the next one. If you get to a type of problem that you know you never get right, identify it and skip it quickly. That’s the way you maximize your SAT score.

Karl Schellscheidt

Copyright 2006 — All Rights Reserved, ePrep, Inc.

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