The third and fourth sections of the SAT will always be dedicated to mathematics, with the first section forbidding using a calculator. Understandably, the math section can be pretty challenging and confusing, but it can be quite fun once you have your “eureka moment” and figure out how to put numbers to use.

Before we touch on what makes these questions so challenging and give you some tips, we’ll touch on some general facts that can help you figure out how the SAT is laid out.

**General Facts About The SAT And Math**

As we stated already, the third and fourth sections are the math-centric ones. It’s also worth noting that each subsection has the questions ordered from easiest to more complex, based on how long and how many people can solve the question on average. However, the ascending difficulty rests from easy to difficult when you reach the grid-ins.

So questions one through to fifteen will go up in difficulty, but once you reach sixteen, it reverts to easy again for the grid-ins. So as a general rule of thumb, you can expect the most difficult questions to be grouped at the end of multiple-choice sections or in the second half of the grid-in section.

Be wary of the time, though, as that will be the chief enemy throughout the whole test.

**When To Focus On Math**

When looking to start preparing for your SAT, you should always begin with a complete practice test. This will help you gauge your skills and work out what sections you should focus on more than others. Make sure you take this practice test as seriously as you would the actual SAT to get as realistic an estimate as possible.

For math in particular, if you score in the brackets 200-400 or 400-600, you should focus on improving your math score first to achieve above 600 consistently before tackling the more challenging problems.

However, if you’re already above 600, then you might want to consider taking a crack at them to test your skills and practice.

**What Do These Questions Have In Common?**

When you begin practicing, you may start to notice common themes that make up these more challenging questions – a structure. There are basic general structural ideas that these questions have in common, which separates them from other questions.

First of all, they’re often compound in nature, testing different mathematical concepts at once. The trick is to break these down into their base components so you can take the challenge piece by piece.

This also means there will be many steps to follow, which can trip you up if you don’t focus and take it slow. Be sure to double-check your work.

Focus is a crucial component to these questions, as they also tend to test you on concepts that are commonly tricky or unfamiliar to many. They’ll also purposely word the questions in confusing and convoluted ways to overwhelm you intentionally. Read thoroughly and find the information you need to use, ignoring the red herrings.

**Concluding Thoughts**

The SAT is more of a marathon of a test, making sure you can keep up and complete the long and sometimes grueling exercises and testing the limits of your capabilities in certain subjects. Focus on your basic math skills, and work your way up to the top.