Many students look at math as the bane of their academic existence. So having to take a nearly 2-hour long test just on math can be an extremely daunting (and honestly annoying) task. But, if you go into your study sessions with the right strategies on your side and a good attitude, you can easily maximize each study session to get your best score possible!

By: Soleil Kelly, Mathematics & Economics at Vanderbilt University, 2023 

      1. You can completely skip 10 questions on the ACT Math and still get a 30 raw score, and you can get 15 wrong on the SAT Math and still get a 600 for the section. So, give yourself more time for the easy/medium difficulty questions to maximize your chances of getting a higher score
      2. Though this is a good strategy for actual test day, when studying, attempt each question. For all you know, you were just psyching yourself out because the problem looked intimidating.
      1. The SAT is broken down into the following sections: passport to advanced math, problem-solving and data analysis, the heart of algebra, and advanced topics. The ACT is broken down into five: numbers, algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, and miscellaneous topics.
        1. Take some time to familiarize yourself with each category of question and identify what your weakest topic is.
      2. Once your weakest topic is identified, focus extra time on studying that section more in-depth than the others. If you know your weakness lies in geometry but you are a wiz at algebra, there is no reason to spend an hour on both when you could spend 90 minutes on geometry and 30 on algebra.
      1. Mark every question that you are even a little bit unsure about and review them after you are finished with the test.
        1. Doing this will ensure that you can confidently and swiftly move through each question
      2. When you review your test, review every question you marked AND everyone that you got wrong.
      3. Keep track of the common topics that you’re missing so that you can do more specialized practice on them later.
      1. There are generally three types of mistakes that are made while doing a practice test: content, incorrect approach, and careless error. Identifying what type of mistake you have made will make it easier for you to correct it.
        1. Content
          1. You didn’t learn the skill or knowledge needed to answer the question
            1. What specific skills do I need to learn, and how will I learn this skill?
        2. Incorrect Approach 
          1. I knew the content, but I didn't know how to approach this question.
            1. How do I solve the question? How will I solve questions like this in the future?
        3. Careless Error
          1. I misread what the question was asking for or solved for the wrong thing
            1. Why did I misread the question? What should I do in the future to avoid this?
  • Miscellaneous
    1. Monitor your time
      1. If you spend about 30 seconds on a problem on the ACT or 50 seconds on the SAT and still don’t know how to proceed, it’s probably time to move on
    2. Bubble in all your answers at once
      1. It’s shown that this strategy can save you about 3 minutes per section and reduce bubbling errors which can be a devastating blow to your score
    3. Guess on every answer you don’t know
      1. It’s always best to go for an educated guess, but even if that is not possible, still fill in an answer for every question on both the SAT and ACT. Even a 20% chance is better than 0%.

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