


Types of Algebra Items
On the new SAT, algebra items are one of three basic types:
 Bunch o’ Numbers & Letters (hereafter referred to as Buncho items)
 Storytime Algebra
 Obey the Function!
Here’s a brief description of each item type.
Buncho
These are easy to spot. The stem is slapdash full of
numbers and letters (the letters should probably be referred to
by their math name, variables). Manipulating the
letters and numbers so they do your bidding is the key to these
items, but this isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
You’ve already seen a sample Buncho item twice:

Buncho!
Storytime Algebra
These items often have hidden variables, but they can
also be clearly spotted by their talkiness. Storytime Algebra items
are word problems that either come right out and ask you to set
up an algebraic equation or are written in a way that leads you
to believe you must set up an algebraic equation to find the correct
answer. This assumption—that you have to set up an equation—isn’t
true, but we’ll talk about that later. A sample Storytime Algebra
item looks like:

There are variables throughout the item, and the stem
blathers on for some time. That’s Storytime Algebra for you.
Obey the Function!
Oldtimey function items on the SAT used only strange
mathematical symbols, such as .
These looked bizarre but just meant that you were to take any number
between the two “horseshoes” and multiply it by 3. These functions
were simple. Maybe too simple, because these items
have been replaced with new kinds of function items. It’s survival
of the fittest on the new SAT Math section. For example:

Many new functions feature graphs too. If you see an item
with a bunch of graphs and no geometry figures around, the best
bet is that it’s a new function item.
We cover each of the items and provide you with powerful
step methods and strategies so you are prepared to answer any item
you encounter.
