Pillar III: Use What You Know

The SAT is not a test that shows how much you know. It is a test of how well you use “reasoning” skills related to basic knowledge. After all, this is the SAT “Reasoning Test.” Once we get into real test questions, you’ll see that you already know almost all the substance you need to have-even the vocabulary. Very few of the math concepts are high school substance. Over 80% of the math concepts were taught to you by the time you got out of middle school! You’re either saying to yourself, “The Wiz has no clue what he is saying,” or “That’s true for the other students but not for me.” The purpose of this pillar is to show you that you know most of the stuff. Your challenge is to learn how to use it.  Consider this question:

Which of the following two questions would more likely appear on the test:

  1. If a right triangle has a hypotenuse of 5 units what are possible lengths of its sides?

(A) 1 and 2
(B) 2 and 3
(C) 3 and 4
(D) 4 and 5
(E) 5 and 6

2. In the figure above, the small angle at vertex C is a right angle. What is perimeter of the 5-sided figure?

(A) 26
(B) 28
(C) 30
(D) 32
(E) Insufficient information to answer the question.

Of course, the second question is more apt to be on the test. The first one simply asks to you remember the Pythagorean Theorem or that there are 3:4:5 triangles. The second one ask you to recognize there is a missing hypotenuse for the indented side of the figure and it has a length of 5. You can tell it is 5 from the other information you are given about the figure. Then you need to realize that the other two sides have lengths of 3 and 4. Now you can add everything up and get 28.

Be sure to pay careful attention to Video #4. I explain how to think your way through word problems. They have some special weaknesses that make them vulnerable to my strategies.