Mathematics

The Mathematics section of the SAT is widely known as the Quantitative Section or Calculation Section. The mathematics section consists of three scored sections. There are two 25-minute sections and one 20-minute section, as follows:

One of the 25-minute sections is entirely multiple choice, with 20 questions.

The other 25-minute section contains 8 multiple choice questions and 10 grid-in questions. This part has no penalty for incorrect answers since the student guessing is limited.

The 20-minute section is all multiple choice, with 16 questions.

Notably, the SAT has done away with quantitative comparison questions on the math section, leaving only questions with symbolic or numerical answers. Since the quantitative comparison questions were well-known for their deceptive nature--often turning on the student's recognition of a single exception to a rule or pattern--this choice has been equated to a philosophical shift away from "trickery" and toward "straight math" on the SAT[citation needed]. Also, many test experts[who?] have attributed this change, like the addition of the new writing section, to an attempt to make the SAT more like the ACT.

New topics include Algebra II and scatter plots. These recent changes have resulted in a shorter, more quantitative exam requiring higher level mathematics courses relative to the previous exam.

Calculator Use

With the recent changes to the content of the SAT math section, the need to save time while maintaining accuracy of calculations has led some to use calculator programs during the test. These programs allow students to complete problems faster than would normally be possible when making calculations manually.

The use of a graphing calculator is sometimes preferred, especially for geometry problems and questions involving multiple calculations. According to research conducted by the CollegeBoard, performance on the math sections of the exam is associated with the extent of calculator use, with those using calculators on about a third to a half of the items averaging higher scores than those using calculators less frequently . The use of a graphing calculator in mathematics courses, and also becoming familiar with the calculator outside of the classroom, is known to have a positive effect on the performance of students using a graphing calculator during the exam.