Math problems come in all shapes and sizes on the SAT, but only a few of them test geometry. If you've never taken a geometry class or feel it's not your strong suit, it may still be possible for you to get a high SAT math score.
This article will let you know how much geometry appears on the SAT and how well you can score with little or no previous knowledge of the subject. First, just how many of the math questions are going to ask you about shapes and angles?
How Much Geometry Is On the SAT?
Geometry questions make up less than 10% of the SAT math section. This is a huge reduction from the previous version of the test, when geometry questions made up 25% to 35%! The current version of the SAT puts much more emphasis on algebra and word problems.
College Board defines four categories for the SAT math questions: Heart of Algebra, Passport to Advanced Math, Problem Solving and Data Analysis, and Additional Topics. Geometry questions have been thrown into the category of Additional Topics, along with trigonometry and complex numbers.
Of the 58 math questions, only three or four will ask about geometry. Some of the geometry questions may be part of a multi-part problem. With multi-part problems, two or more questions refer to the same figure or graphic.
Geometry only makes up a small portion of the test, but you'll still get several geometry formulas at the beginning of the math section on calculating the area, volume, and circumference of various shapes. While you'll have access to these formulas, you should still go into the test with them stored in your memory bank. Since the SAT is such a fast-paced test, you'll be better served if you can recall a formula rather than have to flip back and forth through the test booklet looking for the right one.
So, what concepts do these three or four geometry questions test? Read on to learn what you need to know to ace the geometry questions on the SAT.
What Concepts In Geometry Are Covered?
While there are only a few geometry questions, they may cover a range of topics. The concepts you might need to know include,
- Volume word problems
- Right triangle word problems
- Congruence and similarity
- Right triangle geometry
- Angles and arc lengths
- Circle theorems
- Circle equations
Geometry questions might ask you to determine the volume or area of a shape, apply properties of triangles to determine side length or angle measure, or apply properties of circles to measure arc length and area.
Here are a couple examples of SAT geometry problems. The first asks about congruence and similarity, and the second is concerned with angles and parallel lines.
Geometry Problem Example 1:
Geometry Problem Example 2:
Do any of the above concepts sound familiar? If you haven't studied geometry yet and don't know to answer these questions, what is the highest score you can achieve on the SAT math section?
What Score Can You Get Without Geometry?
If you skip all of the geometry questions and answer all of the other math questions correctly, then you could still achieve a high score on the SAT math between 750 and 790! Geometry questions only make up a small portion of the test, so they don't factor all that significantly into your final scores.
Of course, you can't guarantee you'll answer all of the other questions perfectly, nor will you necessarily be unable to answer any geometry questions just because you haven't taken a geometry class.
Self-studying can go a long way, and some of the geometry questions may even be intuitive and easy for you to figure out. If you're aiming for top math scores, then you should take time to learn concepts on your own. You can find lessons in SAT prep materials or reach out to a peer or teacher for help.
Geometry doesn't play a large role on the SAT, but you can still benefit from reviewing the concepts and preparing for the 10% of math questions that fall into the Additional Topics category. In closing, let's go over the key points you need to know about geometry on the SAT.
How Important Is Geometry on the SAT? Key Takeaways
Geometry used to play a big role on the SAT, but now it only shows up in less than 10% of questions on the SAT math section. You can still score highly if you skip the geometry questions completely, assuming you have a strong grasp of all the other important mathematical concepts.
At the same time, no one enjoys taking a test and coming up blank. Encountering confusing questions can mess with your pacing and shake your confidence. If you've never taken a geometry class in school, it's still a good idea to spend some time reviewing concepts of area, volume, and circumference so that you can attempt any geometry problems that you get.
The geometry questions usually aren't too advanced, so you can get them right with just a basic knowledge of the concepts and some practice. By reviewing lessons in your SAT prep materials and trying sample questions, you'll be able to prepare yourself for the geometry questions that show up on the official SAT.
When are you planning to take the SAT? Depending on your grade, you will likely be aiming for different target scores. Read about what makes a good score for 9th grade, what's good for 10th, and what's a good score for your final SAT score for colleges.
Are you figuring out your study plan for the SAT or not sure how to fit in test prep with all the other things you've got going on in your life? This article helps you set target scores and plan out a study schedule so you can achieve high scores on this important test.
Are you aiming to get a perfect 800 on the math section of the SAT? This article by a full scorer breaks down how to achieve that elusive 800.
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Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.