SAT II Math IC: Success Through Sound Strategy

If you have taken the three basic levels of college preparatory math, the SAT II Math IC should be a breeze. This test covers the material you learned in your Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry courses. It requires a powerful grasp of the concepts of number operations, algebra functions, geometry and measurement, and data analysis. Number operations include most of the tasks which can be preformed by a scientific calculator. However, this does not necessarily mean that having a calculator with you on the exam will help you (although it is a permitted device), in fact I might just slow you down! The geometry and measurements section includes the fundamental Euclidean area and perimeter operations which will allow you to arrive at conclusions about the nature of common polygons and circles. Data analysis involves the skills of statistical analysis and the ability to find probabilities from given information.

If you think you can muster up those skills in a testing environment, I’m ready to tech you how to effectively apply and manage those skills to get the highest possible score on the SAT II Math IC exam. Below, I have divided most of the information you will need to succeed strategically on this exam into several “Bites of Knowledge.”

Bite of Knowledge #1: It’s a Machine

This isn’t like most of your high school tests. For one thing, its multiple choice. Most math teachers hate multiple-choice because they want to know the reasoning behind your answers! They care more about how you arrived at a conclusion that what that conclusion is. They operate by correcting your math process and thus improving the quality of you conclusions.

That’s not how the SAT II Math IC works. They aren’t trying to correct your thought process, their job is simply to evaluate your math skills in a cost effective way. Having to manually grade all the exams would not be very cost effective and would take for ever, so they have the exams graded by a machine. You fill in the bubbles. The machine detects which bubbles you filled in and compares them to an answer key. This allows the machine to give you a score which represents your proficiency in basic college preparatory mathematics.

What does that mean? It doesn’t matter how you get the right answer as long a s you don’t cheat or break the law. You can get pretty close though.

Bite of Knowledge #2: Don’t Rush

What do most people do when they’re anxious and facing a timed standardized test? They rush. Bad move. The ETS, the wonderful (coughcough kenieving) folks responsible for creating this test expect you to rush and have taken every measure to make sure that this “strategy” leaves you in tears. What’s your rush? There are no bonus points for finishing all the questions. A better strategy is finishing less questions but getting more right.

Bite of Knowledge #3: Confidence

Confidence levels always vary among students because you have been either told that you are “good at mathematics” or that you are “bad at mathematics.” What does that that have to do with anything? Most of this test isn’t about how much you know, but rather how careful you are. For example if you are overconfident, you are likely to finish question quickly and not check them leaving the possibility of misinterpreting open. If you under confident, you have a propensity to doubt perfectly sound logic. Stay confident (but not over confident) and you are likely to do better on the test.

Bite of Knowledge #4: The Right Bubble

Remember that advantage we talked about in “Bite of Knowledge #1: It’s a Machine,” well I have sad news for you. The fact that you are being judged by a machine can also be a serious disadvantage. Say you screw up and fill in the wrong bubble. Since the machine is not capable of detecting intent, you will hemorrhage points. That doesn’t sound pleasant, does it? So check that you are filling in the right bubble option for the right question!

Bite of Knowledge #5: It is About Knowledge

You got to know the equations required to be successful on this test. Although there is a reference area, you shouldn’t have to rely on it.

Area (A) of a triangle A = bh

Perimeter (P) of a triangle P = a + b + c

Area (A) of a rectangle A = lw

Perimeter (P) of a rectangle P = 2b + 2h

Area (A) of a circle A = r2

Circumference (C) of a circle C = 2r or C = d