SAT Maths: Know the Format

Many students worry about SAT math. However, a good SAT score requires strong performance on the SAT math section. To achieve a good score, you first need to know understand the structures and patterns of SAT math questions.

SAT Math: What you can Expect

There are two maths sections: Non-Calculator & Calculator.

  • The Non-Calculator section has twenty questions in twenty-five minutes.
  • The Calculator section has thirty-eight questions in fifty-five minutes.

Three-quarters of the questions are multiple-choice with the final quarter (five questions on Non-Calculator and eight questions on Calculator) are grid-in questions, where you write the numbers in a grid provided on the answer sheet. (Note: all grid-in answers will be positive).

At the beginning of each section, you will be given the following geometry and trigonometry equations:



What is on the SAT math?

The College Board splits math questions into four categories: Heart of Algebra, Passport to Advanced Math, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Additional Topics.

SAT math questions in the Heart of Algebra concern linear equations, inequalities, functions, and graphs. You may be asked to simplify an expression, solve and interpret systems of two inequalities, solve linear equalities, and understand how a graphical representation relates to its algebraic roots. Essentially, this is turning wordy questions into equations and manipulation equations already given.

Passport to Advanced Math questions deal with exponential functions and ask you to find the most suitable form of graphical expression. They may ask you to solve quadratic questions and relate linear and quadratic equations to one another (both algebraically and graphically), as well as manipulate polynomial expressions. This means, you have to deal with multiple types of lines in the one graph and be able to judge the relationship of different equations to each other.


Combined, these two sections make up over half the SAT math questions.

Luckily, A-List has developed a set of proprietary SAT math techniques that remove the requirement to use math for these questions! That’s right – if the descriptions make your head spin, then our Ivy-League educated tutors have the tools to help you earn a great SAT score without needing to do maths (beyond arithmetic) at all!

The remaining math sections include Problem Solving and Data Analysis and Additional Topics. Again, A-List techniques can be used on these sections, too!

Problem Solving and Data Analysis tests your quantitative knowledge: knowing the difference between mode and median, finding the standard deviation and average, and reading tables. These questions only appear on the longer Calculator section, particularly questions 18-25. They are quite wordy so be sure to underline the key words!



The Additional Topics section is where you will find the trickier trigonometry and geometry questions. However, it only makes up 10% of the test, and the questions are most likely to appear at the end.

How to Prepare:

The best way to prepare for the SAT math section is to complete regular and diligent review of content and to take timed practice sections and full-length SAT practice tests. GCSE maths will provide a grounding for SAT math, but we recommend brushing up and delving into the advanced content with our proprietary textbook, the Book of Knowledge, which contains all the content that you need as well as the techniques to master the test.

There are also great free online test questions, such as with College Board and Khan Academy. However, best way to prepare for the SAT math is to work with an experienced tutor who can provide guidance and support tailored to your level and experience. If you would like to find out how A-List can help you conquer the SAT math section, please contact our Client Service Team.


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