How To Get an 800 on SAT Math

Getting a perfect score on your SAT Match isn’t easy, but it also isn’t impossible. You can improve your score by leaps and bounds by familiarizing yourself with mathematical concepts covered throughout the SAT.

It’s also wise to take plenty of practice tests. But these aren’t the only steps toward getting an 800. Generally, you’ll want to follow five simple steps to improve your SAT Math score.

These five steps are:

  1. Study the Covered Concepts
  2. Apply the Concepts You’ve Learned
  3. Practice Using Official SAT Practice Tests
  4. Improve Your Test-Taking Strategies
  5. Master Your Time Management

Let’s briefly review each of these steps to help you master the mathematics portion of the SAT and earn a perfect score of 800! After all, preparation is half the battle. Even if you typically struggle with math, these steps can help you enjoy a higher overall score.

Study the Covered Concepts

Do you know what types of mathematics are included on the SAT? If not, you’ll likely struggle to earn a decent score. That’s why the first step toward earning a perfect 800 is studying the covered concepts included on the test.

The SAT Math section typically focuses on several categories. These categories are:

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

These categories aren’t incredibly descriptive, making it challenging to determine the best areas of study. Fortunately, we can break these categories down into slightly more detailed sections to help you focus on specific concepts, formulas, and problems.

Heart of Algebra

Algebraic equations are the heart of SAT Math. It should come as no surprise that the algebra category is called the Heart of Algebra.

This section focuses on all major concepts covered in Algebra I and Algebra II, but it also features some concepts that are more heavily mentioned in College Algebra courses. Students should feel prepared to answer questions regarding:

  • Linear Equations
  • Algebraic Functions
  • Linear Inequalities
  • Graphing

Problem Solving and Data Analysis

Students with a passion for statistics are bound to enjoy this category of concepts. After all, Problem Solving and Data Analysis primarily cover the following concepts:

  • Data Collection and Analysis
  • Scatter Plot Data and Line Plot Data
  • Graph Interpretation
  • Ratios and Percentages
  • Distribution Shapes

Many of the questions related to this mathematical category rely on visual cues and graphs. You’ll need to understand how to infer data from tables and graphs, as well as how to calculate percentages and ratios.

Passport to Advanced Math

Remember how Heart of Algebra focused on linear equations? Well, Passport to Advanced Math is all about nonlinear equations. This massive category typically includes concepts such as:

  • Quadratic Equations
  • Nonlinear Graphing
  • Exponents
  • Polynomials
  • Rational Equations
  • Radical Exponents

This section also emphasizes word problems. Students may be given complex nonlinear equations that are posed as everyday situations via word problems.

If you’re uncomfortable or unfamiliar with these types of high-level word-based mathematics problems, you’ll want to focus on that area first.

Additional Topics in Math

Additional Topics typically refers to geometry and trigonometry. However, complex problem-solving questions are also occasionally categorized into this section. Overall, Additional Topics comprises only about 10% of the entire SAT Math portion.

Still, students hoping to earn the highest possible score will want to brush up on basic geometry and trigonometry concepts, such as:

  • Angles
  • Congruence
  • Arc Lengths
  • Trig Functions
  • Circle Theorems

If it’s been a little while since you reviewed the Pythagorean Theorem or the six trigonometric ratios, now is the time to brush up after-school on those topics.

Apply the Concepts You’ve Learned

Once you know what to study, you’ll need to start applying those concepts. This step is often as simple as ensuring that you understand each concept. Studying each individual conceptual category is often recommended, as it’s often confusing to delve into all of them at once.

Try working through each included concept by practicing related problems or multiple-choice questions. For example, if you’re familiar and comfortable with every category of mathematics problems except Additional Topics, you can focus on geometry and trigonometry problems.

Fortunately, there’s a wealth of resources that can help you apply the concepts you’ve learned. You can find concept-specific quizzes and tests by exploring the CollegeBoard website, or by accessing the SAT-specific sections of Khan Academy.

Official SAT prep workbooks are also a solid option for practicing test-takers. In fact, investing in at least two official SAT practice tests or preparation books (which often come with practice tests) is one of the best ways to quickly improve your overall score.

Practice Using Official SAT Practice Tests

There are dozens of helpful preparatory books and booklets that could help you improve your SAT Math score. The official CollegeBoard materials tend to be the highest-quality and most accurate resources for students.

That said, official SAT practice tests and books can be somewhat pricey. Fortunately, you could avoid book fees by opting for a free online option, like the Khan Academy SAT Practice Test. This resource is actually eight versions of the SAT, ensuring that students have plenty of opportunities to improve their scores.

Also read: Our guide to the best calculators for the SAT

Improve Your Test-Taking Strategies

If you get nervous when taking tests, you might struggle to remember the information you studied during the day of the test. While practice can help quell many anxiety surrounding test-taking, it might not be a foolproof solution.

Understanding why you struggle during tests is the first step toward improving your test-taking strategies. If the source of your discomfort comes down to nerves, you could adopt one of several pretest relaxation strategies.

Even the most knowledgeable students can suffer from test-taking anxieties, and learning how to reduce that stress could mean the difference between a perfect score and a high score. Time management is also vital, especially for students that struggle to focus for long periods.

Master Your Time Management

The final hurdle to overcome is often time management. Though most hard-working high school scholars have already improved their time management techniques, there’s always room for improvement.

During your senior year of high school, there are a wealth of social and academic opportunities worth exploring. Balancing the time spent with friends and family against studying and college prep can be challenging.

A great place to start is basic scheduling. If you don’t have a weekly schedule, go ahead and sit down and start creating one. Be sure to consider your current responsibilities when creating your new schedule. What days will you need to focus on homework for your English class? Which days will you be busy with after school activities?

After mastering a day-by-day schedule, you can focus in and create an hour-by-hour study schedule. While this kind of micromanagement isn’t always necessary (and can be challenging to adhere to), it could be a useful guide to help keep you on track in terms of studying.

If you continue to struggle with time management and focusing while studying, try utilizing some helpful tips and tricks. For example, playing lyricless music while studying for the SAT Math section could help you cover more material and retain more information.

Final Thoughts

To get an 800 on SAT Math, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the mathematical concepts included on the test. You’ll also need to apply and practice those concepts. After that, you can begin testing yourself using official SAT practice tests and quizzes.

Improving your test-taking strategies and mastering time management are also crucial when hoping to earn a perfect score. It’s crucial to be aware of your weakest conceptual areas while also remembering to review your stronger subjects. Doing so can make you a competitive test-taker and help you achieve that 800 you deserve.

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Michelle Tsou

Contributor at ExamCave. Michelle graduated with a BA in English from Portland State University. She hopes to one day run her own test-prep organization.