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SAT Math: It’s Been a Few Years Since Algebra I

If you’ve taken Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2: Congratulations, you’ve covered the math subject matter tested on the SAT! The SAT Math test does not extend to precalculus or beyond, so even if you’re taking Algebra 2 now, odds are you’ve learned most of the math you need. 

The only downside is this: if you’re a junior, it’s probably been a couple of years since you took Algebra 1, which is the most emphasized content area. This means it’s vital that you brush up on the terminology and topics you may have forgotten since the 8th or 9th grade. 

The College Board sorts the math content on the SAT into four domains:

  • Heart of Algebra,
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis,
  • Passport to Advanced Math, and
  • Additional Topics.

Their Heart of Algebra domain, which essentially consists of Algebra 1 material, makes up about 35% of all math questions, making it the most prevalent category on the Math exam. This domain primarily tests linear equations, inequalities, and systems. Below, we outline some topics students should study for an efficient refresher on Algebra 1.

Linear Functions

  1. You’ve got to know slope-intercept form (y = mx + b) inside and out
    • Can you figure out what an equation means in a real world problem?
    • What even is slope, and why is the y-intercept important?
  2. You’ve got to be able to translate between equations, tables, graphs, and descriptions
    • Can you get from a table of x and y values to an equation? What about from an equation to a graph?
    • Do you know what parallel and perpendicular slopes look like?
  3. You’ve got to know when a situation calls for a linear vs an exponential model. 
    • Is the rate of change constant? Is the function always decreasing or increasing by the same amount?

Linear Systems

  1. You’ve got to be comfortable solving systems using substitution and elimination. 
  2. You’ve got to be able to formulate (write, or identify!) a system of equations or inequalities based on a word problem. 
  3. You’ve got to understand how to graph and interpret a system of linear inequalities. (Hint: you graph them a lot like lines, but there’s shading!)

Once you’ve brushed up on these topics, try our 15 minute SAT math quiz. How did you do?