Common SSAT Math Mistake

Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished, LLC demonstrates on his whiteboard what not to do when solving an SSAT math problem.

Make sure that you pay attention to the units of measurement on a math question, and when necessary, make sure you convert the units of measurement.

Half the battle to doing well on the SSAT math section, pace yourself well and avoid making careless mistakes. I often see students make the same careless mistake over and over again with this particular problem, so I’m going to show you this problem, so you don’t make the same mistake. Let’s go to the board.

“Nick buys a piece of licorice 150 inches long. If he plans to give away all of the licorice by giving each of his 5 friends an equal piece, how long should he cut each piece?”

So the math is really easy with this problem. We’re simply going to take 150, which is the total length of the piece of licorice, and divide it by the 5 friends that he shares it with. That is going to give us 30. Now, this is where students get the problem wrong. They’re going to say, “Oh, well, I solved the problem. I got 30.” They’re going to go to answer choice ‘B’ and circle it, which says 30 feet.

However, they didn’t convert their units of measurement correctly. They forgot that they had to take 30 inches because 150 inches divided by five gives each friend 30 inches of licorice, and now we have to convert 30 inches into feet. So don’t forget to do your units of measurement. 30 inches, we’re going to divide it by 12 inches, and that’s going to give us how many feet is 30 inches. 2.5 feet. The answer is ‘E,’ 2.5 feet, not the trap answer ‘B.’ Just make sure you notice the units of measurement on math problems and convert them when appropriate. And overall, don’t make careless mistakes on the SSAT math section, and you’ll do fine.

Do you make careless mistakes on the SSAT math section? How do you avoid making careless errors on this section?

Post your tips/comments below.

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