Essential Math Review for SAT and ACT
The spring and summer sessions for the SAT and ACT are right around the corner, and even though it doesn’t feel like it now, they’re going to come up faster than you realize.
Start your review early by figuring out what you need to know for the mathematics portions of the tests. These portions will cover lots of areas you learned about in your high school courses, so you may get overwhelmed when you start to review.
Instead, try focusing on these 4 areas the ACT and SAT will definitely test you on in math:
You’ll encounter several pre-algebra type questions on both tests, but probably more on the ACT. The questions will be about functions you probably don’t need to review as in depth, because you’ve been doing them for a while now, such as decimals, fractions, place value, and ratios. Brush up on any parts of pre-algebra that always stump you, but make sure to move on and focus on the next few areas.
Both the ACT and SAT present several algebraic problems you’re going to have to solve. Up to 18% of your SAT will involve algebra problems, and about 30% of your ACT will involve elementary and intermediate algebra. Make sure you start reviewing concepts like square roots, quadratic equations, sequences and patterns, roots of polynomials, complex numbers, and more.
If you like geometry (or even if you don’t), you’ll encounter plenty of it on the ACT and SAT. The tests will cover some aspects of plane, solid, and coordinate geometry. It’s best for you to start reviewing these geometry topics: graphing, slopes, parallel and perpendicular lines, angles, volume, and the properties of shapes (anything from circles to trapezoids).
Trigonometry is important to study only if you're taking the ACT. Even though some SAT questions may seem like they require you to apply trigonometry (and can be solved using basic trigonometric functions like sine, cosine, and tangent), they can always be solved much more easily without trig.
For a more detailed break-down of what you’ll encounter on each test, check out these links that will help you understand the math portions:
SAT math content: http://www.sparknotes.com/testprep/books/sat2/math2c/chapter2section1.rhtml
ACT math content: http://www.actstudent.org/testprep/descriptions/mathcontent.html
For your best chances of success on the math portions, take some ACT and SAT practice tests for the math sections, which you can easily find online. You won’t regret it come test day and you feel confident in your ability to pass with ease!