The 5 Top SAT Calculator Tips
Here are 5 tips on using the calculator on the SAT:
1. Don't Overuse the Calculator
Even though calculators are allowed on the SAT, don't let them think for you. The SAT is a reasoning test, not a calculation test. If you pick up your calculator more than three times per math section, you need to wean yourself off of it and start working on your thinking skills!
Of course, smart calculator use is occasionally helpful, as the following examples show.
2. Know How to MATH►FRAC
Let's say you're solving an SAT math problem about probabilities and you get 34/85 as an answer, but the choices are
Did you mess up? No — you just have to simplify. Here, a TI-83 or similar calculator with ►FRAC might save you time. Type "34/85" and enter, then press the MATH button and then ►FRAC. Like magic, it will convert the fraction to lowest terms: 2/5. Sweet!
On "grid in" questions, it's also a good idea to MATH►FRAC any decimal answer you get to make sure that it gives a fraction that can fit into the grid. If not, you've probably done something wrong!
3. Know How to Get a Remainder
Consider this math question: The tables at a wedding reception are set up to accommodate 212 people. There are 24 tables, some seating 8 people and the rest seating 9 people. How many 9-seat tables are there?
Without getting into the details, the answer is simply the remainder when 212 is divided by 24. You could do this by long division, but you can probably do it faster with a calculator:
Enter the division problem and enter: 212/24= 8.833333333
Subtract the integer part: ANS - 8 = 0.833333 . .
Multiply by the original divisor: ANS x 24 = 20
So the answer is 20! Memorize this handy procedure to streamline "remainder" problems.
4. Beware of "Killer Program" Gimmicks
Don't believe your friends who tell you they have a killer "SAT-busting" calculator program. They don't. These are usually gimmicks that waste time rather than save it. Again, if you're depending on your calculator to do anything but check basic calculations, you're thinking about the SAT in the wrong way.
5. Get fresh batteries
Even if you don't use your calculator much, you won't be happy if it dies halfway through the SAT. Put in a set of fresh batteries the night before!
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