How to Improve Your SAT Math Score

Last Updated on April 20, 2023

Getting a great SAT math score can be a game-changer for increasing your chances of being accepted by your dream school. So, if you are struggling with SAT math or are just wondering how to improve your SAT math score, you have come to the right place. This article will discuss 5 tips you can easily implement to help increase your math SAT score.

How to Improve Your SAT Math Score

Here are the topics we’ll discuss:

Tip #1: SAT Math Is Not Just a Math Test

To increase your SAT math score, it’s essential to realize that SAT math requires skills different from the math skills that you are learning in high school. The SAT math section is not just a math test; it is also a reasoning game. So, increasing your score takes improving skills that relate specifically to the SAT math game.

The SAT math section is not just a math test; it is also a reasoning game.

Yes, you must know an array of basic math concepts, such as the difference of squares, 30-60-90 triangle rules, shifting function graphs, the quadratic formula, complex numbers, etc. At the same time, however, you need to surpass basic competency in using these concepts. You must develop strong analytical reasoning skills to identify the concept tested in any SAT math problem and successfully attack it. A great way to do so is to think like the test-maker.

Think Like the Test-Maker

SAT questions cover concepts you are learning in your high school math classes. However, SAT math questions have a unique “SAT-like” flair.  So, when preparing for SAT math, you must learn to think like the test-maker. You must get used to what makes SAT questions unique. You must learn to understand the “SAT flair.”

For example, try the following very simple SAT math question:

The price of a particular stock has fallen by 50%. By what percent must the price of the stock increase to return to the original price?

  • 50%
  • 75%
  • 100%
  • 150%


If you picked (A), you fell for a trap answer choice that only looks logical. Presenting an opportunity to make a common mistake in logic makes for a good SAT math question and adds an “SAT flair” to the question.

An SAT test-taker might select choice (A) after concluding that, if something decreases by 50% and then increases by 50%, it will be back at its original value. However, this logic is specious.

A simple way to solve this problem is to pick an easy number to use for the original price of the stock, such as $100. After the 50% decrease, the stock’s value becomes $50. Thus, the price of the stock must increase by $50, or increase 100% in value, in order to return to its original price. So, answer choice (C), 100%, is the correct answer.


Learn to think like the test-maker and understand the “SAT flair” in each math question.

Tip #2: Take A Topic-by-Topic Approach to Study SAT Math

If you are wondering how to study for SAT math, our suggestion is to take a topic-by-topic approach, meaning the following:

  • Work through SAT math topics one at a time.
  • Learn how to recognize the logic of SAT math questions.
  • Learn multiple approaches to getting correct answers.
  • Become an expert in each SAT math topic.

Let’s discuss each of these points in further detail.

Work Through SAT Math Question Topics One at a Time 

By working through SAT math topics one at a time, you put yourself in a position to master each topic. In addition, you develop a clear understanding of how questions in a topic are asked, and you develop skills and approaches that you can use to arrive at correct answers to those types of questions. 

The key to following this “topical” study approach is to first learn all you can about a particular math topic, and then practice just that topic until you have achieved mastery. For example, let’s say you are learning about quadratic equations. First, you will learn all you can about quadratic equations: foiling, factoring, the zero product property, the quadratic formula, discriminant analysis, etc. Once you have a good foundation in those topics, you’ll practice 100+ questions just on quadratic equations. Break those questions into sets of 20, and then thoroughly review those sets to uncover any gaps in your knowledge. Once you have learned, practiced, and reviewed quadratic equations, move to the next quant topic.


Put yourself in a position to master each math topic by working through each SAT math topic one at a time.

Tip #3: Build a Strong SAT Math Foundation First

Students frequently concentrate their study efforts on tough SAT math questions, such as those involving relatively complex formulas and concepts, while ignoring the fundamentals. This is not a sound plan.

To master SAT math, you must develop your knowledge and skills in a linear, systematic manner. It will be difficult for you to develop a firm mastery of an SAT math subject if you jump ahead to the toughest material.

It will be difficult for you to develop a firm mastery of an SAT math subject if you jump ahead to the toughest material.

So, for example, if you are learning about quadratic equations, it would make sense for you to first learn about the more basic topics of FOILing and factoring quadratic equations before jumping into questions about completing the square or discriminant analysis. 

Now, you may be asking, how do I retain all of these concepts and skills as I master new ones? In other words, how do I not forget what I’ve learned?

Tip # 4: Regularly Review What You Have Learned 

For SAT math, there is a lot to learn, but if you’re like most students, you’ll pick up a lot of new information, tactics, and techniques throughout your prep. However, if you don’t frequently review what you’ve learned, you’ll most likely forget it. Thus, you’ll need to review past material.

If you don’t frequently review what you’ve learned, you’ll most likely forget it.

There are two simple things you can do for review:

  • Take strategic notes and review them frequently.
  • Make flashcards and review them often.

Next, let’s discuss each of these review strategies.

Take Strategic Notes on SAT Math Material

Taking notes can be huge for your SAT studying. Not only will taking notes allow you to examine what you’ve learned at a later time, but also will allow you to become a more active participant in your prep.

We’ve all been guilty of mindless reading, in which we say to ourselves after reading a page or two, “I just read two pages and have no memory of anything I read.” You can avoid this wasted process by taking notes while reading. Writing out a concept or principle in your own words will force you to reflect more on its meaning, and furthermore will help with your understanding and retention of that concept.


Avoid being a victim of mindless reading; take notes as you study.

Put SAT Math Concepts on Flashcards

Consider generating flashcards after taking notes, so you can easily and regularly revisit math concepts.

Flashcards are useful since you can use them almost everywhere. For example, if you are being driven to school or take the bus, pull out your flashcards and get some studying in. Also, if you have a few minutes before a team practice, again, pull out your flashcards.

Some students prefer traditional paper flashcards, while others use digital flashcards. Whatever format you choose, make sure to go over your flashcards frequently. To challenge yourself, shuffle the deck before each use. 

The number of flashcards you use will almost certainly increase as you progress through your study plan. So, to stay efficient, divide your flashcards into two piles: one for SAT topics you feel you’ve mastered and another for those you have not.


Separate your flashcards into one pile for SAT math concepts you’ve mastered and another pile for concepts you haven’t mastered.

Now, let’s discuss the importance of avoiding careless mistakes.

Tip # 5: Avoid Careless Mistakes

Careless mistakes can be the death of any SAT math score. Thus, you need to work hard to avoid them at all costs. The obvious reason to avoid careless errors is that they lead to incorrect answers. However, there is another reason to avoid them. 

Careless Errors Suck Up Precious Time

Careless mistakes waste time. For example, let’s say you get through an entire math problem and realize that your answer is not listed, as you made a careless error. You will either have to skip the question and move on or redo your work to get the correct answer.

In either case, you’re in a lose-lose situation. Skipping a question is not great, nor is wasting time to redo your work.


Avoiding careless errors will reduce the number of questions you have to either redo or skip in the SAT math section.

So, let’s discuss how to reduce careless errors.

Work Slowly and Carefully

Working slowly and carefully is one approach to prevent making careless errors. The more you rush, the more likely you are to make a careless mistake. Yes, I understand that the SAT math sections are timed. However, there is a fine line between rushing and moving at an efficient pace.


The more you rush, the more likely you are to make a careless mistake.

Become Aware of the Types of Errors You Tend to Make

Another method for reducing careless errors is to become more aware of the types of errors you make. For example, do you tend to make mistakes when it comes to adding or subtracting? Do you have a habit of answering the equation for the wrong variable? Do you try to answer a question one step too early? These are just a few examples, but I think you get the point. Take notice of why you incorrectly answer questions, and then work on those issues.


To improve your SAT math score, learn about what errors you make, so you can eliminate them from happening in the future.

Tip # 6: Use One Resource to Prep for SAT math

Using several SAT math prep resources is a common mistake I see students make. While most test prep courses teach similar math content, they often teach it differently. You don’t want to make learning SAT math hard on yourself by combining different methods for learning. Instead, look for a resource that offers a one-stop-shop for SAT math mastery. 

Also, if your current prep materials are not getting the job done, consider making a permanent switch. Are your current materials ineffective for your learning style? Is it possible that the explanations aren’t clear enough? Is the study plan disorganized? Are you missing out on sophisticated analytics that can help you pinpoint your weak spots? These are all reasons why you may need new study materials.

Almost every online self-study course offers a free or low-cost trial. Experiment with new things. Just make sure you don’t jump from course to course at random. 


Find one solid SAT prep course and stick with it, and if your current prep materials are not working for you, consider making a switch.

Increasing Your SAT Math Score: Key Takeaways

Here is a summary of some high-value SAT math tips to help you increase your SAT math score. 

  • SAT math is not just a math test; it’s also a reasoning test. 
  • Learn to think like the test-maker.
  • Take a topic-by-topic approach when studying for the SAT.
  • Build a strong SAT math foundation first.
  • Regularly review what you have learned.
  • Take notes and make flashcards when you study.
  • Avoid careless mistakes.
  • Work slowly and carefully.
  • Become aware of the types of errors you tend to make.
  • Use one resource to prep for the SAT.

Leave a Reply