By Laura Whitmore
Hey everyone! If you're preparing for the digital SAT and feel like you're stuck in a never-ending cycle of frustrating math problems, you're not alone. I remember perusing the problems in College Board's Blue Book app and stumbling upon those last ten questions in Module 2. To be honest, they felt like an insurmountable mountain.
You know the ones I'm talking about—those problems that make your brain hurt just from reading them, and when you finally think you've cracked them, your answer doesn't even appear in the multiple-choice options. Oh, and let's not forget how reading the answer explanations feels like trying to decode an ancient language.
So, what's the game plan? I've got some exciting news for you. I've discovered that Desmos, a graphing calculator available within the BlueBook app, can be your secret weapon for tackling these perplexing problems. And today, I'll take you through four challenging questions from Blue Book Test 4 and show you how Desmos can significantly speed up your problem-solving process.
Problem 1: That Pesky System of Equations
The first question we're going to dissect involves a system of equations with one unique solution. Forget about the College Board's labyrinthine explanations; let's get straight to the point. I plotted the equations on Desmos and used a slider for the variable 'a'. It was like watching magic unfold before my eyes. I could instantly see the value of 'a' that made the system have exactly one real solution. And voila, the answer was 14.5. Way quicker than doing it the long way, right?
Problem 2: Quadratics and Unknown Constants
Next up is a quadratic equation featuring unknown constants A and B. The question asks for the product of the solutions in terms of these constants. Traditional methods? No, thanks. I plotted the equation in Desmos, toyed with the sliders for A and B, and—boom—I got the product of the solutions as 0.018. It was like solving a Rubik's Cube in record time.
Problem 3: Finding the Radius of a Circle
Third on our list is a question that wants you to find the radius of a circle based on its equation. Sure, you could mess around with algebraic equations and get lost in a maze of numbers. But why do that when you can simply plot the circle in Desmos, measure the diameter, and divide it by 2 to find the radius? Not only is it quicker, but it also gives your tired brain a much-needed break.
Problem 4: The Parabolic Curve
Last but not least, we have a parabola problem. The vertex is given, and you need to find out whether the curve intersects the x-axis at two points. After plotting it on Desmos, I simply adjusted the value of 'A' and quickly realized that 'A' must be positive for the curve to intersect the x-axis twice. It was as simple as that!
Bonus Tip: We Have Tutors!
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To sum it up, Desmos can be your lifeline in the treacherous waters of digital SAT math preparation. So why struggle when you can make your life easier? The PSAT is digital this year and starting in 2024, the SAT will be strictly digital in the US, so get started prepping now!