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Level of Difficulty

The mathematical skills tested on the SAT are basic: only first year algebra, geometry (no proofs), and a few basic concepts from second year algebra. However, this does not mean that the math section is easy. The medium of basic mathematics is chosen so that everyone taking the test will be on a fairly even playing field. This way students who are concentrating in math and science don’t have an undue advantage over students who are concentrating in English and humanities. Although the questions require only basic mathematics and all have simple solutions, it can require considerable ingenuity to find the simple solution. If you have taken a course in calculus or another advanced math course, don’t assume that you will find the math section easy. Other than increasing your mathematical maturity, little you learned in calculus will help on the SAT.
As mentioned above, every SAT math problem has a simple solution, but finding that simple solution may not be easy. The intent of the math section is to test how skilled you are at finding the simple solutions. The premise is that if you spend a lot of time working out long solutions you will not finish as much of the test as students who spot the short, simple solutions. So if you find yourself performing long calculations or applying advanced mathematics—stop. You’re heading in the wrong direction.
Tackle the math problems in the order given, and don’t worry if you fail to reach the last few questions. It’s better to work accurately than quickly.

You may bring a calculator to the test, but all questions can be answered without using a calculator. Be careful not to overuse the calculator; it can slow you down.

To insure that you perform at your expected level on the actual SAT, you need to develop a level of mathematical skill that is greater than what is tested on the SAT. Hence, about 10% of the math problems in this book are harder than actual SAT math problems.

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