Calculator Tips for the SAT Math Section

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You should never attempt to take the SAT without a calculator, but not any old calculator will do. There are some tips and things you should keep in mind when preparing for the exam (and on the test date). Here are some calculator tips to remember for the SAT:

Bring The Right Calculator

Bringing the incorrect calculator could significantly affect your SAT score. If you bring one that isn’t powerful enough, you could be struggling to complete the graphing questions or taking too long to answer the algebra problems. If you take one that isn’t approved, you could have it confiscated. And if you forget your calculator, you’ll definitely have problems on the exam. You can’t share with a friend either. You have to bring your own.

The SAT allows for most scientific and graphing calculators. You’ll want to check well before your test date in case you need to order a new one. Your calculator can’t be on your phone, laptop, or connect to the internet at all. You should also remember to change the batteries before the test date! You don’t want to be mid-problem when your calculator dies.

Practice Using Your Calculator

A scientific or graphing calculator can be confusing if you don’t know how to use them. While you should have experience with them from your high school math courses, you want to be absolutely positive you’re familiar with it. Make sure you’re using it during your practice exams and prep so you know exactly what to do during both algebra and graphing problems. You could run out of time if you’re trying to solve every problem long form.

If you’re not quite sure how to approach a problem on your calculator, get with your teacher or a tutor. They can help go over exactly how you can punch in the numbers and get to the final answer.

Don’t Overuse It

While your calculator can help with a number of math problems, both big and small, it won’t help you solve every math issue. You’ll have to rely on your knowledge in the subject as well, so you don’t want to become too confident in your calculator and not practice math yourself, especially if it’s a weaker subject for you. In general, even if you can complete the question with a calculator, it’s also helpful to know how to do it on paper. You can be positive you’re approaching a problem the correct way if you know the principles behind it.

And while a calculator is allowed on certain parts of the the math section of the SAT, you are not allowed to use it during any other part of the test. Do not take it out during the reading or another section. It could cause you to be removed from the exam. Also there’s no reason to.

Understanding your calculator inside and out is a must if you want to do well on the math portion of the SAT. However, make sure you’re also following the rules for the exam so you don’t risk getting your calculator confiscated or asked to leave the testing area.

Check out how your SAT scores affect your acceptance odds with College Raptor!

Hilary Cairns

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