SAT Math Topics: 5 Tips on What You Need to Know

Want to know what are the new SAT math topics? The math section of the SAT is designed to test your knowledge on problem solving, critical thinking, modeling, algebraic functions and using tools strategically. Seems like pretty broad concepts doesn’t it? Don’t worry, this is your definitive guide on the exact SAT math review topics that are currently being covered. By the end of this article you will know what math is on the new SAT, and how to review for it effectively!

SAT Math Review

The SAT math topics are about getting real. The good news is that the SAT doesn’t test you on every single math topic you have ever had studied. Feel free to breathe a sight of relief. Instead, it selects areas deemed the most relevant in college courses and careers.

The SAT Math test focuses on areas that play a large role in colleges and a variety of careers, therefore applying real world math. These focus areas are:

  • Heart of Algebra – create, manipulate and solve algebraic equations. These questions center around linear equations – equations that involve two variables that change as stated by a consistent pattern.
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis – is all about being quantitatively literate. These questions require you to create and use a model, as well as understanding the difference between the model predictions and actual data collected.
  • Passport to Advance Math – includes questions that require the manipulation of complex equations and functions that are typically needed in STEM-based careers.

On top of these areas, the test also covers additional key concepts that don’t fall into any of the above categories. These include coordinate geometry, basic trigonometry, area and volume.

5 Ways to Review the SAT Math Topics

1. Know how to complete grid in questions

Students are often given advice to learn the style of questions and the format of the test. But what does this mean when it comes to the SAT? In the SAT math section there are multiple choice questions and grid-in questions. Answering multiple choice questions are fairly straightforward – simply select the answer you think is correct.

Grid-in questions are different. These are questions where you are going to have to come up with the correct answer on your own. Don’t ask me why “grid in” is the terms used, I don’t have that answer! 20% of the questions on the SAT math test are grid-in questions so it’s definitely worth your while to understand how they are answered. You are given the instructions for the grid-in answers, but reading them can waste a lot of time. Instead, familiarize yourself with the instructions on practice tests – the instructions are the same. This allows you to spend more time thinking about your answers on test day.

2. Become familiar with the provided formula sheet

Many students breathe a sigh of relief when they hear they don’t have to learn every single formula. But that doesn’t mean you can rest easy. You still need to know when to use each formula. Even knowing where the formulas are located on the sheet will save you valuable time. Have the sheet available during every single revision session and refer to it regularly. Pin it somewhere for you to study on a regular basis – a mirror, the refrigerator, or on the back of the bathroom door!

3. Work backwards

Sometimes it’s easier to start by looking at the multiple choice answers available. You may be lucky enough to rule out a couple of options straight away, but if not, try putting the various options into the equation. This tactic has potential to actually be more time consuming, so may not be ideal for every question, but it’s certainly a good one to have in your bag of tricks.

4. Use the daily practice app

The College Board not only provides official practice tests, but also an app to help track your progress. You will receive a question each day with hints and explanations. It’s a great way to maintain your math skills and to remind you to keep preparing for your math SAT!

5. Make the most of other subjects

It may come as no surprise that you use math skills in a variety of subjects. Because the SAT math section has such a focus on real world math, subjects such as science and social science are incredibly relevant. Apply your math knowledge in these subjects and you are unknowingly preparing yourself for the SAT math test. Any questions that involve data analysis, graphs, percentages, ratios and tables are useful in preparation for the SAT.

Topics Covered in the New Math SAT

As you have already learned, the math SAT covers three main topics, with anything leftover categorized under additional math. This section will give you a SAT math topics breakdown, providing you with a thorough understanding of exactly what math is on the SAT.

The Heart of Algebra

In this section, questions are focused around equations based on real-world topics such as distance, speed, mass, volume or everyday financial topics.
Questions may ask you to;

  • Solve linear equations and linear inequalities
  • Interpret linear functions
  • Answer equation word problems
  • Graph linear equations
  • Solve linear function word problems
  • Solve systems of linear equations
  • Answering these questions may require you to;
    • Use multiple steps to simplify an expression or equation
    • Select a graph that shows an algebraic equation that you saw in Algebra 1 course or Algebra 2. or choose the equation that describes a graph
    • Indicate how a graph would be affected by a change in its equation

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Problem Solving and Data Analysis

In this section, questions revolve around the application of ratios, percentages, and proportional reasoning. We’ve come up with a collection of more topics and what might be asked of you below:

  • Ratios, rates, percentages, units, and proportions – solve multi-step problems with a given ratio, rate, percentage or unit. You will also need to know how to calculate ratios, rates, percentages and units using the information provided.
  • Table data and data inferences– analyze the data presented on a table and use it to answer questions
  • Scatterplots – select the best equation to fit various scatterplots.
  • Graphs and tables – understand and identify key features, as well as summarizing and evaluating the data presented in them
  • Data collection and conclusions – determine whether data collection methods are accurate and reliable
  • Statistics – determine mean, median, mode, range, and/or standard deviation

Passport to Advanced Math

Students who are interested in STEM-based careers will need to pay particular attention to these type of questions. They involve complex equations and functions, and focus on the following areas;

  • Solving quadratic equations
  • Interpreting nonlinear expressions
  • Quadratic and exponential word problems
  • Radicals and rational exponents
  • Operations with rational expressions and polynomials
  • Polynomial factors and graphs
  • Nonlinear equation graphs
  • Linear and quadratic systems
  • Structure in expressions
  • Isolating quantities
  • Functions

Now that you are familiar with the new SAT math topics you can go ahead and prepare easily and aim to get the results that you need for schools! Always remember that the SAT math exam is only covering information that you’ve already learned. So prepping and taking some time to review the material will help to refresh your memory and remember how to quickly and accurately complete problems in these areas. Remember to work hard and apply yourself, the rest is easy!

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What Subjects Are on the ACT?

Are you in the process of applying to colleges? Are you bombarded by information on entrance exams such as the ACT and SAT? Are you trying to figure out what subjects are on the ACT or SAT as well?

College applications are often confusing and stressful, but you don’t have to worry. Let this be your guide to help you understand what subjects are on the ACT, how it is scored, and a few other crucial tips to success. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming once you understand the basics of each of the tests.

The ACT is divided into four, sometimes five sections – the writing test is optional, so it is important to check as some colleges or universities require its completion. So check all of your schools before you make any decisions regarding the the reading section.

Check out the table below for a simple summary of what subjects are on the ACT.

Subjects on the ACT Test:


  • Number of questions: 75
  • Type of questions: Multiple Choice
  • Section Time: 45 min
  • Topics Covered:
    • Grammar,
    • punctuation,
    • sentence structure,
    • strategy,
    • organization and rhetorical skills.


  • Number of questions: 60
  • Type of questions: Multiple Choice
  • Section Time: 60 min
  • Topics Covered:
    • Algebra I and II,
    • geometry,
    • trigonometry


  • Number of questions: 40
  • Type of questions: Multiple choice related to four different passages
  • Section Time: 35 min
  • Topics Covered:
    • Reading comprehension of what is stated or implied around topics such as prose fiction, social studies,
    • humanities,
    • natural sciences


  • Number of questions: 40
  • Type of questions: Multiple choice linked to scientific passages
  • Section Time: 35 min
  • Topics Covered:
    • Interpretation,
    • analysis,
    • evaluation,
    • problem-solving,
    • reasoning


  • Number of questions: 1
  • Type of questions: Essay
  • Section Time: 40 min
  • Topics Covered:
    • Various writing skills

How Long is the ACT?

In total the ACT takes 2 hours and 55 minutes, or 3 hours and 25 minutes if you sit the writing section of the test as well this time around.

Now, let’s look at each section in a little more detail. By getting an understanding of each of the subjects, you can better understand what’s covered as well as if this test is a better option for you compared to the SAT test.

In addition, this will help if you feel you need a bit of extra help in a certain area.


The 75 questions in English section are divided between five passages that you have to review and understand. This means that each passage has 15 questions related to it. Some questions will be linked to the passage as a whole, while others will be more specific and draw your attention  to a particular part of the passage. It’s up to you to read the passages and then answer each of the questions to the best of your ability.


Quite simply, there are 60 different multiple choice questions relating to algebra, geometry and trigonometry – with the focus in that order. In other words, if trigonometry isn’t your forte, don’t stress too much as there is significantly more focus on the other two areas. When studying, your focus should be on algebra and geometry. A calculator is permitted for the math section of the test.

Reviewing and test prep can make a tremendous difference in your results here. So make the time for that before the exam.

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There are four passages in the reading section, each with ten questions. The questions will relate directly to the passage, sometimes drawing your attention to a particular part of the passage, and will test your ability to make comparisons, understand ideas, draw generalizations, and determine the meaning of words, statements or phrases within a particular context.

This is an area that makes many student nervous as there can be a wide range of topics in the passages. Some of the passages you might have more knowledge of than others. Just do the best you can with what you’re offered, knowing that all the other students taking the test are facing the same topics.


The science section of the ACT also revolves around passages. These passages will include graphs, diagrams, charts, and tables, followed by around four to seven questions. The questions will require you to gather the information presented in the passage and choose the most correct answer from the selection of four multiple choice responses.

If you have trouble recalling scientific information, don’t worry, you are tested more on your skills and ability to analyze, evaluate and interpret, than you are on actual science-based information.


This optional section of the ACT requires you to read a small passage on a given topic and evaluate perspectives on the topic. You will need to show that you can analyze different arguments by forming different viewpoints and opinions into a coherent essay.

It’s important here to not only present a thoughtful response but to also present it well. Taking a bit of time to outline what your thoughts will be before you start writing can make this section a lot easier as well as get you better results.

How is the ACT Scored?

At first this may seem a little complicated, but it’s actually quite simple. It’s not quite as straightforward as recording how many questions you answered correctly – that would be really simple! But that is the first step.

Basically, you get a mark for every correct answer, blank or incorrect answers receive no marks. This is called your raw score. Your raw score is then converted to your scaled score, which is a number between one and 36.  The reason the scores are scaled is to ensure results are consistent across tests taken on different dates and in different locations.

Act vs SAT, Which to Choose?

Deciding between ACT vs the SAT is a question that many students ask. And many of those end up taking both tests one or more times. However, perhaps it can be made a bit simpler for you? Look at the additional topics within the ACT test. Are you someone that does well in science? Then taking the ACT test where you get the boost from the science section might help your overall score.

Whichever way you decide to go, just make sure that you create a plan to prepare for the exam and follow the plan. We wish you the best of luck this year as you navigate the college process!

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