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# Tip #49 to Get a Top SAT Math Score

By Brian Leaf
McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Sep 10, 2011

Learning mantras is like learning martial arts. Practice until they become part of you, until you follow them naturally: when you see a proportion, you cross–multiply; when you see a linear pair, you fill in the angles. … This will fundamentally change you as a math student. In fact, after SAT prep, many students begin to like math; they realize that they "get" it, and it stops being intimidating, and becomes easy. I've even seen kids overcome serious math phobias with the Mantras. Your SAT score and probably even your math class grades will go way up.

Here are the rest of the SAT Math Mantras. Check the box next to each one when you have mastered it. Reread the Skill sections if you need to.

• Skill 21. "Use the Diagram" to estimate an answer. Translate into decimals any answer choices that contain √ or π.
• Skill 22. When a diagram is not drawn to scale, redraw it. And when a picture is described, but not shown, draw it!
• Skill 23. When you see a right triangle, try a2 + b2 = c2.
• Skill 24. When you see a 30°, 45°, or 60° angle in a right triangle, try using the special right triangles.
• Skill 25. Similar triangles have sides that are proportional.
• Skill 26. Translate word problems from English to math.
• Skill 27. When something can be factored, FOILed, reduced, or simplified, … do it.
• Skill 28. Memorize the laws of exponents.
• Skill 30. For the equation y = mx + b or y = ax + b, m or a is the slope and b is the y intercept.
• Skill 31. When you see an arrangement question, draw a blank for each position, fill in the # of possibilities to fill each position, and multiply.
• Skill 32. When an arrangement question mentions a "restriction," fill in the restricted positions first. When it mentions a "team of two," divide your result by 2.
• Skill 33. When you see "probability," use the equation Probability = .
• Skill 34. When you see "median" or "mode," rewrite the data as a list in order.
• Skill 35. For the equation y = ax2 + bx + c, the a tells whether the U–shaped graph opens up or down, and the c is the y intercept.
• Skill 36. Logic questions are easy long as you stay focused and do NOT get intimidated.
• Skill 37. Remainders are what's left over when you use long division.
• Skill 38. When you see absolute value, look for the less obvious answer.
• Skill 40. To solve a sequence question, write the next bunch of terms until you have as many as you need or until you see a repeating pattern.
• Skill 41. "Careless errors are bad mmmkay," so underline all vocabulary words and remember to finish the question.
• Skill 45. When you see a weird symbol question: (1) relax, (2) remember that no one has seen this symbol before, and (3) follow the directions given in the question.

Let's look at this question:

Solution: Draw a simple diagram. Anytime a picture or a situation is described, draw it (Skill 22). It helps you to see what to do next and to avoid careless errors. Without a diagram, many students answer 14 or 15, but the diagram shows that in height order, Ahmed is the 7th in both directions, so there are 6 students on each side of him. Thus, 6 students on his right plus 6 on the left plus Ahmed equals 13 students total.

Correct answer: 13

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