More Reading in SAT Math

Recently, while working with some math teachers, I recommended that they include word problems–lengthy word problems–like those found on the SAT on their quizzes and tests. To which, they replied, “Why? We don’t teach just SAT-Math.” Of course, SAT-Math isn’t some esoteric branch of mathematics. It’s algebra – a lot of algebra. But, a plethora of SAT-Math questions are “problems grounded in real-world contexts.”  Students are “presented with a scenario and then asked several questions about it.” That’s why the questions are so verbose. Furthermore, because the CCSI and SAT are so inextricably connected, there is another reason why there is so much reading on SAT math tests.

SAT math questions can require a lot of reading. Help students succeed on the test by giving them practice problems!

The following excerpt is taken from the CCSI’s website:

The Standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language be a shared responsibility within the school. The grades 6-12 standards are divided into two sections, one for ELA and the other for history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. This division reflects the unique, time-honored place of ELA teachers in developing students’ literacy skills while at the same time recognizing that teachers in other areas must have a role in this development as well.

Take a look at this novella from practice SAT 4.

While preparing to run a marathon, Amelia created a
training schedule in which the distance of her longest
run every week increased by a constant amount. If
Amelia’s training schedule requires that her longest
run in week 4 is a distance of 8 miles and her longest
run in week 16 is a distance of 26 miles, which of the
following best describes how the distance Amelia
runs changes between week 4 and week 16 of her
training schedule?

A) Amelia increases the distance of her longest run by 0.5 miles each week.
B) Amelia increases the distance of her longest run by 2 miles each week.
C) Amelia increases the distance of her longest run by 2 miles every 3 weeks.
D) Amelia increases the distance of her longest run by 1.5 miles each week.


After reading this novella (from the No Calculator Test) at least twice, a student hopefully notices some key words: constant, changes. A constant change is slope! So, what’s the rise and what’s the run? Take a look at the answer choices: miles over week(s). The change in miles is 18. The change in weeks is 12. But, 18 over 12 isn’t an answer choice; however, 18 over 12 is the same thing as 3 over 2 or 1.5, answer choice D.

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