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Tips for Mastering Maths on the SAT/ACT

When faced with an exam, it’s normal to feel nervous. That knot in your stomach as you contemplate sitting the SAT and ACT is a common feeling. In particular, the Maths section on both tests often causes consternation.

The SAT/ACTs maths sections are tricky – that is not up for debate! In fact, the questions are designed to be obtuse and even mislead. These questions ask you to make connections that feel unnatural and break the cycle of how we ordinarily approach answering maths questions. This disorientation often causes panic to kick in. We want to transform that panic into productivity. There is a process and methodology to these sections: we just need to tune into it.

This is akin to finding our way through an unknown forest: the SAT is asking you to get from one side to the other but by dropping you at a different, unknown starting point. We need to create a new path through the forest, using many of the skills we have built through our school maths lessons, along with some new ones. But there is a way forward, every time. So, what can you do?

First, start with the question: write it out. Is there anything you recognise? Use the tools you already have. Second, survey the question as a whole before diving in: what different ways can you approach this problem? Third, reflect upon your maths knowledge as a whole: maths learning is built like a scaffold with every piece supported by those that came before it. Are there any holes in your scaffold?

We might never be able to wave a magic wand to simplify the ACT/SAT maths sections, but we can take charge of our learning and develop approaches to find out way through the forest that is the standardized exam. Working with a tutor can be an excellent way to discover what content knowledge you might need as well as to practice how to approach the variety of questions on the exam. A-List tutors can help you use these techniques so you excel on the Maths section of either the SAT or ACT. Contact our Client Services Team to arrange tuition.

 

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