Without practice, you won’t master SAT algebra. You’ve learned quite a bit since you picked up this little book, but now comes the hard part—you have to apply it to testlike items. There are two practice sets at the end of this book: one made up of multiple-choice items and one made up of grid-ins. Here are some tips for getting the most out of these items.
  • Do not time yourself on the first practice set. When you begin, don’t worry about time at all. Take as long as you need to work through each set.
  • Read the explanations for all items, regardless of whether you got them right or wrong. This is critical—always read all the explanations for each set’s items. The idea is to develop skills that help you score points as quickly as possible. Most important, scoring a point doesn’t mean you got it in the most efficient manner. The overarching goal is to apply the methods you’ve learned. Whether you get all, some, or none of the practice items right doesn’t matter.
After the first set, you may want to start paying attention to time. Certainly by the actual test, give yourself about a minute or so per item.
All the vital information and snazzy strategies you learn in this book won’t do a lick of good if you don’t use them on the day of the test. Sadly, this happens more often than you might think. Students acquire useful tips, but once the test starts on Saturday morning, all of it goes out the window.
To help ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, tackle these two algebra sets using the skills and strategies you’ve just learned. Don’t worry about how many you get right or wrong: they’re just practice sets. Instead, focus on how well you use the techniques you’ve learned. When you look at an algebra item, can you tell what method would work best? If it’s an Obey the Function! item, what kind of function item is it? If it’s a Storytime Algebra item, what variables are in it, and what are some good numbers to use as substitutes for the variables?
Don’t get frustrated by your progress on the practice sets. Every mistake you make on practice sets is one that you will avoid on the real test. Yes, there are some algebra rules you don’t know, but learning about these on practice items corrects that deficit. When the real SAT rolls around, you’ll have yet another tool in your arsenal that you can employ if needed.
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