Magoosh’s New eBook: Lightening the SAT Math Load

Magoosh_SAT MathFor some high school students, SAT math is the bane of their existence. You need to learn all these foreign strings of numbers and letters, and then magically recall them once you’re sitting in a hot room for hours with your entire future weighing down on your tired shoulders. Yeah – SAT math…not the funnest thing in the world.

Our friends at Magoosh SAT have released a new ebook, Magoosh’s SAT Formula eBook, loaded with all you need to know to lighten the load and ace the math section on the SATs. The book is free with interactive elements, and comes complete with all the math formulas, study strategies, time-saving tips, and practice problems you’ll need for the SAT.

Here’s an excerpt from the intro of the book:

While formulas can be really helpful on the SAT, there are very, very few that you absolutely need to have memorized to score well. That might come as a surprise, but it’s true, and it leads us to an important thought: understanding how and why a formula works is as useful as rote memorization. In fact, it’s much better. You’ll have a better sense of when to use a formula and be more accurate in executing it if you understand the math behind it. Let’s look at a concrete case to illustrate. The distance formula is a prime example. It’s ugly…

MagooshSAT_DistanceFormula

…but it actually represents a pretty simple idea. If you have any two points on a graph (on the coordinate plane), you can make a right triangle that connects those two points as the ends of the hypotenuse. That is, you draw a diagonal line between the two points, then a straight horizontal line and a straight vertical line going through each point to make the legs of the triangle.

MagooshSAT_Triangle

Then, since you’re trying to find the length of the hypotenuse, you just use the Pythagorean theorem:

MagooshSAT_PythagoreanTheorem

(Notice that a couple very basic formulas like this one do need to be memorized.) The lengths of those legs are a and b, and the length of the hypotenuse is c.

So let’s find the length of c:

MagooshSAT_LengthofC

And if you’re trying to find the length of the legs (the shorter sides), you just need to know the horizontal distance between the two points, [more math], and the vertical distance between the two points, [more math]. If you replace a and b with those values, voilà: you have the distance formula.

Check out the Book!

Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Big SAT Changes Favored More by Adcom than by Students

Looking for more college admissions resources? Check out College Admissions 101!

71% of admissions officers, but only 41% of students support the inclusion of calculator-forbidden math questions. 

Kaplan asked 403 admissions officers from top schools and 684 high school students their opinions on the new SAT. Survey results show that the admissions officers are more supportive of the changes than the college applicants. 79% of officers support the changes, up from 72% last year. Big changes include reverting back to the 1600 point scale; adding historical reading passages; making math sections more difficult; shifting the essay from required to optional; getting rid of wrong answer penalties; eliminating fill-in-the-blank vocabulary questions; and adding a computer-based test taking option.

Here are some highlights from the results:

 • 87% of admissions officers and 67% of students support the inclusion of history-related reading passage.

 • 71% of admissions officers support the inclusion of calculator-forbidden math questions, compared to the support of only 47% of students. (On the new exam, calculators won’t be allowed for 20 of the 57 math questions – currently calculators are permitted for the entire exam.)

 • 67% of admissions officers support shifting the essay from required to optional, compared to 51% of students. Additionally, 73% of admissions officers say they don’t plan to require applicants to submit the essay.

 • 70% of admissions officers and 73% of students support getting rid of the wrong answer penalty.

 • 88% of admissions officers and 85% of students support the elimination of fill-in-the-blank vocabulary questions. Instead of these question, the SAT will include more contextual vocab questions, as well as editing write-in sections.

 • 82% of admissions members support the option of taking the SAT on a computer. This is compared to only 36% of students surveyed. Students report concern about staring at a computer screen for four hours, encountering technical difficulties, and not having space for “scratch work” for math questions.

See the Kaplan press release for more details.

Download Free: Preparing for College in High School: A To-Do List for Eleventh Graders

Accepted.com: Helping You Write Your Best

Related Resources:

• Writing an Interesting SAT Essay in 25 Minutes
• SAT Myths Debunked
• U.S. News 2015 Best Colleges

I Stink At SAT Math: What Next?

Looking for more SAT tips? Check out our SAT blog posts.

Help! I Stink at SAT Math!

It’s pretty much inevitable that at some point during your SAT, you’re going to look at a problem and think, “Nope. Not happening.”

Or maybe it will be a few moments after, which can be even more frustrating—you work through what seems like the best way to attack a problem, but then after a good minute or so of work you’re still nowhere near an answer and don’t know what you’re even trying to do anymore.

What you do at that point is key, because the SAT is timed, after all. Every moment you spend looking blankly at a question is a moment gone to waste.

That’s part of why SAT math isn’t really like the rest of the math you do in school. One of the most important skills in the math section is knowing when to guess. That’s one thing you don’t really get from math class.

The principle is pretty simple: if you’re just starting to answer a question and you don’t know what to do, spend ~15 seconds exploring (don’t worry too much about the exact time, but realize this step has to be quick). Rework any equations you have. Label any measurements of a figure that you can infer. Write out the first elements in a series or look for other patterns.

And if, after exploring, you don’t know what to do next, don’t go back to square one and re-live your frustration. Instead, look first at whether there are any answer choices you can definitely rule out. Then circle the question in your test book, select a your best guess the answer sheet (this is why ruling out any answer choices you can is so important), and move on to the next question. Remember that every question in a section is worth the same, so it’s key that you give yourself enough time to get right every question that you can get right. Only after you’ve done that should you resume chewing your pencil and loathing that roadblock question.

As a side note, though, if you find yourself getting stuck on SAT math questions often but, at the same time, really think you know all the material that you need to for the test, then you might want to take a stab at the ACT instead. There’s a huge overlap between the tests, but there’s also a pretty subtle difference in SAT vs ACT math: the ACT tends to be a little bit more straightforward, so knowing the material is enough to answer most questions—it’s less often that you need to figure out subtle twists like what the SAT might throw at you.

Download 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid to learn how to eliminate the most common flaws in your application essays.

MagooshThis post was written by Lucas Fink, resident SAT expert at Magoosh, a leader in SAT Prep. For more SAT resources, check out Magoosh SAT vocabulary flashcards and the Magoosh SAT Blog!

Related Resources:

• Writing an Interesting SAT Essay in 25 Minutes
• Getting Ready to Apply to College Series
• GMAT, GRE, SAT, and All Things Test Prep

What if I Need to Retake the SAT?

Need College Admissions Tips?

SAT: Take 2 (or 3 or 4)

Some treat taking the SAT over again as though it were the same thing as walking down the aisle to take one’s marriage vows for the second time. If stigma should be attached anywhere, it should be on not re-taking the SAT—a second time, third time, and a fourth time. I’m not saying become an SAT test-taking junkie. Rather, you should feel utterly at ease with retaking the SAT. Here’s why!

1. Colleges only see the scores you decide to send them

The colleges aren’t like Big Brother (the all-knowing presence from Orwell’s 1984). That is, they won’t know your scores unless you submit them. You have the option of doing so, for free, during the test. However, you can also send them any time after the test (for a small fee). Unless, you send a specific college your score report, it will never know what you got.

2. You can send your best score in any one section

You can pick and choose your best performance, section-wise, from any test. So your total score can come from as many as three different tests.

Let’s say you scored 750 in math and were surprised at how well you did. However, you bombed the verbal because you didn’t study vocab. For the next test, you go into agro vocab mode and you end up with an amazing 680 on verbal (but you end up doing not so well on math and writing). On a third take you could just focus on the writing section and essay so as to get your best score. If you don’t do so well on the third test, take it again.

3. Knowing that you can retake the SAT multiple times should make it less stressful

All of this is good news because it makes taking the SAT much less stressful. So even if you think taking the test four times is ludicrous, because, hey, you have better things to do with your Saturday, that’s fine. Knowing that you can retake the test will, if nothing else, make the experience a little less stressful.

4. Just because you take the SAT again doesn’t mean you’ll do better

It’s important to note that taking the SAT again doesn’t mean you’re going to score better. Only retake the test if you feel you’ve prepped more than before and are going into the test with more knowledge and better strategies. You might also want to use different prep materials than you did the first time around. For suggestions, check out the Magoosh book reviews in our SAT eBook.

5. There is more to life than taking the SAT

For those of you at the very other end of the spectrum—those who know you can and should retake the test—don’t keep doing so just for those extra few points. There are other things that colleges look at—things you could be doing instead of learning more esoteric SAT vocabulary (do you really need to know the difference between the words “venal” and “venial”?). Volunteering at a hospital, working on that special talent, or studying for one of the SAT subject tests (I know—it’s hard to truly get away from the SAT) might make you seem a little more well-rounded.

Download 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid to learn how to eliminate the most common flaws in your application essays.

Magoosh SAT This post was written by Chris Lele, resident SAT expert at Magoosh. For more advice on SAT prep, check out Magoosh’s SAT blog.