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Minh Nguyen

New SAT Math Study Guide

This week, we will be going over the 4 topics that the SAT test makers have broken down the math section into. In order to master the test, we need to know and understand what will possibly come up. That way, we can figure out what our strengths and weaknesses are.

As you follow along, you will be creating your own personalized new SAT math study guide. After all, each student is unique, so customize your study plan in a way that makes the most sense to you.

Take some time to look over each section and think about how well you did in school when you were learning those topics. Perhaps you aced all of your algebra classes, but you didn’t do so well while learning trigonometry. In that case, you will want to allocate less time studying linear equations and put in more time refreshing the basics of SOHCAHTOA.

The New SAT Math -magoosh

Let’s get started!

The Four New SAT Math Sections


Heart of Algebra – 33%

This section makes up the bulk of the math problems covered on the test. Linear equations, functions, and inequalities are what’s in store for you here. You’ll also be expected to know how to interpret graphs and know how to manipulate them.

What you learned in your algebra classes should be more than sufficient to cover what’s necessary in order to answer the wide array of problems you’ll run into. These types of questions should pose little threat to your hopes of getting a high SAT score.

Passport to Advanced Math – 28%

Don’t be fooled by the fancy wording; Passport to Advanced Math is essentially just another algebra section. However, like the topic name suggests, the questions here will be harder and test your logic and reasoning ability.

While the first section deals with all things linear, this section deals with its non-linear counterparts. Instead of straight lines, you’ll be looking at curves. You’ll also be expected to know how to handle quadratic equations, polynomials, radicals, and exponents.

Problem Solving and Data Analysis – 29%

This section is about analyzing tables, charts, and scatterplots. The SAT test makers want to see if you can do things like draw conclusions from data, figure out the line of best fit, and determine whether growth is linear or exponential.

You also need to know mean, median, and mode like the back of your hand. Lastly, rate, ratios, and proportions go under this category.

Additional Topics – 10%

The first three sections are split pretty evenly. However, just to mix it up, the SAT test makers decided to throw in an extra section in order to separate the math champions from the chumps. Getting these types of questions correctly could mean the difference between an elite score and an average one.

These questions are centered around geometry, complex numbers, and trigonometry. Geometry problems mostly center around properties of triangles, volume, circles, and angles. Trig problems tend to stay on the basic side, revolving mainly around sine, cosine, and tangent functions.

Here you’ll find all sorts of concepts that you may not have already learned in school. Perhaps you are just starting to learn trigonometry, or maybe your teacher might have brushed quickly over imaginary numbers. Either way, you’ll want to pay extra attention to making sure you have them memorized.

What to Do Now to Prepare your New SAT Math Study Guide

Now’s the time to do a mental checklist and think about how you want to break down your study time.

Get out a pen and paper and write down how much time you will devote to brushing up on each topic. Focusing on your biggest weaknesses first will help improve your score the most.

About Minh Nguyen

Minh's passion for helping students succeed grew during his time as a career counselor at the University of California, Irvine. Now, he's helping students all over the world by spilling SAT/ACT secrets through blog posts on Magoosh. When he's not busy tutoring or writing, he enjoys playing guitar, traveling, and talking about himself in third-person.

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