SAT Math: Grid-In and Extended Thinking Questions

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  • 0:02 Grid-In Questions
  • 0:58 Examples
  • 4:03 Tips & Strategies
  • 4:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

There are several different types of questions on the SAT math section. In this lesson, we'll look at two of them: grid-in and extended-thinking questions. We'll look at examples of them and talk about strategies to succeed.

Grid-In Questions

Ling is worried about the SAT. Specifically, she's intimidated by the math portion. She's okay with multiple choice math questions, but she's heard there are other types of questions on the math section too and that makes her nervous. Though the majority of questions in the math section of the SAT are multiple choice, there are two other types of questions. The main type is grid-in questions, which ask students to calculate an answer and enter it into a grid and bubble answer box. In addition, there are extended-thinking questions, which are several questions organized around a single scenario or data set. For example, there might be a word problem with three or four different grid-in questions tied to it. To help prepare Ling for the test, let's take a look at some examples of grid-in and extended-thinking questions and then go through some test taking strategies she can employ on the day of the exam.


Ling wants to practice her grid-in question answering skills, so let's help her out by giving her extended-thinking grid-in questions. Remember, for extended-thinking questions there is a single scenario or data set, but multiple questions. So, let's start by looking at the data and scenario. This graph shows how many people per 100,000 died of heart disease in 2005, adjusted by age and separated by race. Okay, that seems pretty straightforward. So, let's move on to the first grid-in question related to this graph. How much higher is the average for African Americans than the average for American Indians and Alaska Natives? Still pretty easy, Ling thinks. She looks at the bar that represents the average number of African Americans who died of heart disease in 2005 and sees that the bar represents 271.3. She writes that down on her paper. Then she looks at the bar for the average for American Indians and Alaska Natives and sees that it's at 141.8. She writes that down to. Now she subtracts 141.8 from 271.3. She gets 129.5, so she puts that in her grid. See, Ling? This isn't so bad!

Now let's move on to the second question related to the graph. What percentage of the total for all races does the average for Hispanics represent? Okay, Ling is feeling pretty good so she quickly writes down the average for Hispanics, 157.3, and then divides that by the average for all races, 211.1. She gets about 75%. Wait a minute. How could that one bar be 75% of all the people who died? Something's not right here. Ling looks back at her work and then realizes her mistake. She automatically put in the average for all races, but the question asks her about the total for all races. She needs to add up all the bars, except for the first one, and that will give her the total. When she does that, she gets 891.5. When she divides the average for Hispanics, which is 157.3, by 891.5 she gets 17.64441952%. That number looks more correct than 75% did, but there's still a problem. There isn't enough space on the grid for her to put the whole thing. What does she do?

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