The Math SAT is the final part of this standardized test. It is designed to test your fluency in math and prepare you for college-level mathematics courses. If you’re debating between taking the SAT vs ACT, one of the key differences is that the SAT features more math than the ACT, and the ACT has the ACT science section which the SAT lacks. If you’re confident in your mathematics ability, the SAT may be more appealing to you. In this blog, we’ll dive into what math is covered on the SAT, strategies you can use to ace this section and practice questions to get you started!

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SAT Math: What’s On It? SAT Math Study Strategies SAT Math Sample Questions and Answers FAQs

SAT Math: What’s On It?

The Math SAT test is the third and final section of the SAT, after the Scholastic Aptitude Test Reading and Scholastic Aptitude Test Writing & Language tests.

As with the other two sections, the math test seeks to test your fluency in foundational math concepts, your ability to reason and think critically, and prepare you for college-level academics. The math test mainly evaluates your quantitative understanding of math concepts that you will most need in college or your future career.

There are four main content areas in the SAT Math test:

  • Heart of Algebra, which focuses on the mastery of linear equations and systems.
  • Problem Solving and Data Analysis, which is about being quantitatively literate.
  • Passport to Advanced Math, which features questions that require the manipulation of complex equations.
  • Additional Topics in Math, including geometry and trigonometry

How many questions are on the SAT?

The SAT Math test has 58 questions total, and is broken down into a no-calculator portion and a calculator-permitted portion. There are a total of 20 questions in the no-calculator section: 15 multiple-choice and 5 grid-in questions, where you are asked to fill in a blank box with your answer. The calculator portion of the math test has 38 questions total: 30 multiple-choice and 8 grid-in questions.

The questions on the Math SAT are broken down by topics in math, as well, with the majority of the questions being algebraic problems:

  • Algebra – 19 questions
  • Problem-solving and data analysis – 17 questions
  • Advanced math – 16 questions
  • Geometry and trigonometry – 6 questions

How long is the SAT?

The SAT math test allows a total of 80 minutes to complete all 58 questions, or just over a minute per question. The no-calculator portion has a time limit of 25 minutes, and the calculator-allowed portion has a time limit of 55 minutes.

While it seems a little strange to have the no-calculator section have a stricter time limit, rest assured that it is not necessary to use a calculator to solve any of the questions here. In the no-calculator portion, none of the questions will ask you to solve any complex equations, and everyday formulas you might need to answer a question are provided for you.

These are the math formulas you'll be provided for the SAT, from the College Board:

Types of SAT Math Questions

There are two types of SAT Math questions: multiple-choice and grid-ins. Multiple-choice is fairly straightforward, but the SAT grid-in questions require you to calculate the correct answer and fill it in on your own.

On the SAT, you’ll need to fill in bubbles on an answer sheet or enter text into a empty box. Keep in min your answer might be a decimal or fraction.

Here's an example provided by the College Board:

Next, we’ll look at some of the math concepts you’ll encounter in each of the 4 main areas:

Digital SAT: Math Test

The new Digital SAT version has almost the same content as the old version of the test, although the number of questions has been reduced. There are a total of 44 questions on the digital SAT Math test, and you are allotted 70 minutes total to answer them all. The concepts tested on the digital version has also been slightly reduced, although the core concepts in each area tested remain the same.

  • Algebra – 13-15 questions
  • Problem-solving and data analysis – 13-15 questions
  • Advanced math – 5-7 questions
  • Geometry and trigonometry – 5-7 questions

The questions on the Digital SAT are arranged from easiest to hardest and split into 2 modules. Calculator use is also allowed throughout the Digital SAT Math, at your discretion. Note that only certain types of calculators are permitted, so double check what you can bring to the SAT.

SAT Math Question Strategies

If you’re not sure how to study for the SAT and prepare for the Math section, the truth is there’s no magic strategy. Prepping for the Math test is all about content review and practice, practice, practice. Keep your SAT test date in mind or know when you take the SAT so you can plan and create the ideal SAT schedule for yourself ahead of time!

#1 Content review

The first step to acing the SAT Math test is, of course, content review. Go over the foundational concepts in math covered on the test. Use your course notes or preferred study materials and review all the important concepts you need to know. An SAT tutor might also come in handy here if math is a tougher subject for you. Depending on whether you take the paper or digital version of the SAT, check what will be tested.

#2 Practice what you’ve learned

After content review, practice is necessary to apply what you’ve learned and make sure you understand the concepts being tested. Practice SAT tests and practice math questions are a great place to start, so you can gauge which types of questions are easiest and which are toughest. You can also see how quickly you answer questions and if you need to work on your time management for the real SAT. Give yourself both timed and untimed practice tests or questions, and practice solving equations both with and without your calculator when possible.

#3 Know how—and when—to use the calculator

The College Board, which administers the SAT, advises students to only use their calculator on the test when permitted and necessary. Using your calculator may slow you down on some questions where it is not a requirement and you can solve the problem on your own. Furthermore, it’s important to understand how to use your calculator and practice using it during your studying time so you’re not using up valuable time learning how to operate it.

Should you take the SAT? Do you need to? Watch this video:

SAT Math: Practice Questions and Answers

Below we’ve added a few practice questions for the SAT Math to get you started. Check out some more SAT math practice questions to help you study!

Heart of Algebra Sample Questions

Question 1: Solve for x in the equation: 2(3x - 1) - 4(2x + 5) = 6 - 3(4 - x).

A) x = 3

B) x = -2

C) x = 1

D) x = -3

Question 2: If 2x - 3y = 4 and x + 2y = 8, what is the value of x?

A) 2

B) 3

C) 4

D) 5

Question 3: Solve for x and y in the system of equations:

3x - 2y = 7

2x + 3y = 1 

A) x = -1, y = -2

B) x = 2, y = -3

C) x = 1, y = -2

D) x = 3, y = -1

Problem Solving and Data Analysis Sample Questions

Question 1: A survey found that 60% of the 500 participants preferred either tea or coffee, and the rest had no preference. If 25% of the participants preferred coffee, how many participants had no preference?

A) 50

B) 100

C) 125

D) 200

Question 2: In a class of 25 students, 60% prefer science, 30% prefer math, and the rest prefer both. How many students prefer both science and math?

A) 5

B) 6

C) 7

D) 8

Question 3: A car rental company charges $30 per day and an additional $0.20 per mile driven. If a customer is charged $62.40 for renting a car, how many miles did they drive?

A) 150 miles

B) 160 miles

C) 170 miles

D) 180 miles

Passport to Advanced Math Sample Questions

Question 1: Simplify the expression: (4x^3 - 2x^2 + 6x - 5) / (2x^2 - 3).

A) 2x + 1

B) 2x - 1

C) 2x + 3

D) 2x - 3

Question 2: Simplify the expression: (3x^2 - 5x + 2) / (x^2 - 2x - 3).

A) 3

B) 2

C) x - 3

D) 3x - 1

Question 3: If 4^(3x+2) = 16, what is the value of x?

A) 1

B) 2

C) 3

D) 4

Additional Topics in Math Sample Questions

Question 1: In a right triangle, one acute angle measures 30 degrees, and the hypotenuse is 12 units long. Calculate the length of the shorter leg.

A) 3√3 units

B) 3 units

C) 6 units

D) 6√3 units

Question 2: In a circle with a radius of 6 units, what is the length of an arc that subtends a central angle of 120 degrees?

A) 6π units

B) 3π units

C) 4π units

D) 2π units

Question 3: Find the value of θ in the right triangle shown below:


  |  \

6 |    \  θ

  |       \

  | ____ \


A) 36.87 degrees

B) 53.13 degrees

C) 45 degrees

D) 30 degrees


1. What kind of math is on the SAT?

The SAT Math test features algebra, problem-solving and data analysis, trigonometry, geometry and more advanced math concepts such as quadratic equations and polynomials.

2. Is the math SAT test hard?

The SAT math test is challenging, but not impossible to ace. All of the mathematical concepts tested are ones that you have seen before in high school. The questions are arranged from easiest to hardest, so you can work your way up to the more challenging ones. You are also permitted the use of a calculator for most of the test. 

3. Does the SAT Math have calculus?

No, the SAT math test does not have any calculus, but it is designed to prepare you for college-level mathematics, including calculus.

4. Are you allowed to use a calculator on the SAT math?

Yes, the paper version of the SAT permits the use of a calculator in one section of the test and also includes a no-calculator portion. The new digital SAT permits a calculator throughout the test.

5. How many math questions are on the SAT?

There are 58 questions on the SAT math test, although the digital version of the test has lowered the number of math questions to 44.

6. How long is the SAT math test?

The paper version of the SAT math test gives you 80 minutes to answer all 58 questions. On the digital SAT, you have 70 minutes to answer 44 questions.

7. How do you study for the SAT math?

To study for the SAT math, you need to combine content review of the mathematical concepts covered with regular practice. Take regular SAT practice tests or complete practice questions to get comfortable solving math problems you will see on the test. Try timing yourself and practice using your calculator and solving problems without it so you’re ready.

8. What is a good SAT math score?

A good SAT score on the math test is typically in the 600 range, out of 800. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

Source: College Board SAT Suite of Assessments

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