SAT Math No Calculator (Grid In)
Were you expecting us to start our SAT Math No Calculator grid in preparation advice with something other than some variant on the importance of practice? Well, unless this is the first section of this site you’ve visited, then there should be no surprise at all. No one else can take the SAT test for you. You will get better with practice just like you did for [insert name of favorite sport, video game, musical instrument, etc.]
Utilizing a free test available through Khan Academy will help you quickly realize how much studying you will need and which areas to focus your studies. (Super obvious hint: on the types of questions where you are scoring the lowest.)
Time management tips
With (drum roll please…) practice, you’ll get a good feel for how much time it takes you to answer the questions and how much time you may have left at the end. Use this practice to ensure you leave adequate time for the grid in questions or, at least, “sacrifice” the grid ins to perform better on the multiple choice questions that will precede them.
Mark what you are trying to answer
We’ll repeat what we mentioned for the SAT math no calculator multiple choice questions. Since you are allowed to write in your test booklet, do so and mark it up. After all, if you document your work, you will be better able to spot mistakes and utilize any time left over to recheck your answers. Remember, you don’t have the benefit of seeing the correct answer among a list of four multiple choice possibilities.
Simplify problems wherever possible
Always look first to simplify and remember the College Board doesn’t expect you to SAT is not designed to make long, tedious calculations. If you find yourself tangled in a string of numbers, chances are that you have overlooked a way of simplifying the equation. On this note, all SAT questions are meticulously designed. If you are given a piece of data such as 1 mile = 5,280 feet, there is a reason it was given, and it is most likely related to a perhaps not-so-readily-apparent way to simplify the problem.
Approximation still has value
Do this in practice. (Yeap, that darn “p” word again!) If you don’t see an immediate way to calculate the answer, look to see if you feel you can approximate an answer. Then, if you can, mark the guesstimate in your booklet. Compare this to your grid-in answer and, if time permits, investigate if there is a significant gap between the two numbers.
Draw diagrams when they are not provided and they would be helpful
Again, just keep the drawings simple. There’s no need to waste valuable time trying to create a Rembrandt when a stick figure will work just as well for the SAT test purposes!
If all else fails, plug in values
This technique clearly isn’t as valuable for grid in questions as multiple choice, but if you’re in a real quandary, give it a shot.
So let’s say you blank out on the following question where you have to solve for x:
x – y = -11
2x – y = -7
Perhaps you start with the hypotheses that x equals 6 and y equals 17. You plug it in and you’re off a bit. You then try x equals 7 and y equals 18. Oops. Wrong direction. You go back and try x equals 4 and y equals 15 and you get it. Admittedly, not nearly as effective as learning the proper mathematical concept through practice, but better than giving up and getting it wrong, right?
Remain calm and rational
If you see a question (it would most likely be a word question) that you have no idea how to solve, stay calm and recall how you attacked similar practices in … wait for it … practice.