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SAT Math Topics And Question Format

Mar 20, 2023

Are you preparing for SAT? Nervous about SAT math topics? There is no wonder that math is a complex portion of SAT, and you should be familiarized with it with the right approach for SAT Math test prep.

Well, don’t worry. We have brought you this article to help you prepare for the SAT math subject test. You must understand each topic and strategize plans for better preparation.


SAT Math Topics

There are mainly four topics covered in SAT Math subject test – Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math, and Additional Topics.

Heart of Algebra

It typically involves linear equations or inequality with one variable, systems of linear equations, and functions that are found in different fields of study. In the Heart of Algebra, SAT math questions revolve around solving linear equations, inequalities, functions, and graphs. The College Board has defined the official topics for SAT math.


These are as follows:

  • Solving linear equations and linear inequalities
  • Understanding linear functions
  • Linear inequality and equation word problems
  • Graphing linear equations
  • Linear function word problems
  • Systems of linear inequalities word problems
  • Interpreting how a linear graph relates to an equation or system of equations or inequalities.

Problem Solving and Data Analysis

In this section, topics include ratios, rates, proportions, percentages, units, table data scatterplots, key features of graphs, linear and exponential growth, and data inferences. It also covers the centre, spread, and shape of distributions, data collection, and conclusions. Problem Solving and Data Analysis provide a strong foundation for the math you will solve in the future.

In this Area of Study, you will:

  • Solve problems to measure ratios, rates, proportions, unit rates, or density.
  • Use ratios, rates, and percentages to solve a multistep problem.
  • Select an equation that best fits a scatterplot.
  • Summarize data, such as probabilities, by using tables.
  • Predict populations based on sample data.
  • Determine mean, median, mode, range, and standard deviation by using statistics.
  • Analyze graphs, tables, or text summaries.

Passport to Advanced Math

It is the third area of study in the SAT Math topics. Some of the example categories in Passport to Advanced Math include Arithmetic word problems such as per cent, ratio, and proportion; Properties of integers like even, odd, prime numbers, divisibility, and so forth; Rational numbers; and Sets – union, intersection, elements.


In this section, problems focus on math necessary to pursue further study in science or economics and career opportunities in STEM. Official topics under Passport to Advanced Math include:

  • Quadratic equations
  • Nonlinear expressions
  • Quadratic and exponential word problems
  • Radicals and rational exponents
  • Operations with rational expressions and polynomials
  • Nonlinear equation graphs
  • Polynomial factors and graphs
  • Linear and quadratic systems
  • Structure in expressions
  • Isolating quantities
  • Functions

Additional SAT Math Topics

The SAT Math Test also involves additional topics, including geometry – including applications of volume, area, surface, and coordinate geometry. Some topics also focus on trigonometry and radian measures that are essential for study in STEM fields and problems with complex numbers.


Preparing for the SAT Math Test

The SAT Math Test analyzes your understanding of mathematical concepts, skills, and fluency in math and the ability to apply those concepts and skills to real-world problems. The test will focus profoundly on the above-mentioned areas of math.

Questions on the Math Test are aimed at solving the problem you will do in college math, science, and social science courses; and in your professional and personal life. The questions will assess your skills in numerous ways and improve your ability to use mathematical ideas and methods that can be applied to an array of settings.


The SAT Math Test is divided into two portions- Calculator and No Calculator. In the calculator portion, you do not require a calculator to solve questions. You can do any question faster without using a calculator. Questions in this portion are generally more complex than those in the no calculator portion. In the no calculator portion, you can use a calculator to solve problems.

However, many questions in this portion, too, do not require the calculator and can be solved more quickly without using it. No calculator questions emphasize your ability to solve problems efficiently and accurately. It relies on your decision when to use a calculator. So, it would help if you carried a scientific or graphing calculator to use for some questions. Using a calculator may lower the time required to complete the test. It can also help you avoid missing a question due to computation errors.


Question Format

There are two types of questions on SAT Math Practice Test – multiple-choice questions and grid-in questions. However, most questions, about 80%, are multiple-choice and consist of a question with four options. You will be required to select the correct answer. There is no negative mark on selecting the incorrect answer. It means you can answer each question.

In grid-in questions, you will be required to provide an answer to each question in a number (fraction, decimal, or positive integer) that you will enter in the grid-like answer sheet. These types of questions make up about 20% of the test.


The Math Test also includes reference information that can help when you answer the test questions. But you need to make sure that you have a practice test with this information beforehand. To perform better, you should be comfortable working with these facts and formulas.

Through the SAT Math Test, you will have the chance to carry out processes flexibly, precisely, efficiently, and strategically. You will solve problems quickly by identifying and using the most efficient solution approaches. The SAT Math Test will improve your conceptual understanding.

You will demonstrate your understanding of math concepts, operations, and relations. For example, you might be required to make connections between properties of linear equations, their graphs, and the contexts they represent.

Here’s a Breakdown of the SAT Math Sections’ Time, Number of Questions, and Types. 

Sections Number of Questions Time 
No Calculator 15 multiple choices, 5 grid-ins 25 minutes 
Calculator 30 multiple-choice, 8 grid-in questions (including one Extended Thinking question) 55 minutes 
Total  58 Questions 80 minutes 

Difficulty Level of SAT Math 

Each competitive exam’s difficulty varies from person to person. The situation is similar when it comes to the SAT, particularly the SAT Math section. However, if a student has studied math in high school and has a thorough understanding of the concepts, the test should be easy. 


Well, you now have all the details about what topics are there in SAT Math section, which types of questions are asked in the test, etc. All you need to do is follow each instruction and information provided for the test, and do a lot of practice beforehand. The more you practice, the more you immerse and prepare better for the test.

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. What are the SAT math topics?

A. In the SAT Math subject test, there are primarily four subjects covered: Heart of Algebra, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, Passport to Advanced Math, and Additional Topics. 

2. How Is the SAT Math Test Structured?

A. Math and Evidence-Based Reading and Writing are the two main sections of the SAT. There are two distinct parts to the Evidence-Based Reading and Writing focus: Each one is subject to different time restrictions, question counts, etc. Math is the second important factor to think about. 

3. Which Math Topics Are Tested on the SAT?

A. The SAT math section will test your knowledge of the following 4 topics: 

  • Heart of Algebra (33%) 
  • Data analysis and problem-solving (29%) 
  • Advanced Math Passport (28%) 
  • Additional Math Topics (10%) 

4. How can students ace the math section of the SAT?

A. You must fully comprehend every common subject evaluated on the SAT if you want to ace it. You will be tested on a variety of reading, writing, and math skills on the SAT. You can determine the topics you need to learn more about by analyzing the types of questions you frequently answer. 

SAT Math Topics


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