Sarah, the SAT Trigonometry expert, with a friendly and encouraging smile.

Boost Your SAT Score with Sarah's SOHCAHTOA Trigonometry Tips

September 15, 2023

Are you preparing for the SAT, and the mention of trigonometry has you feeling a bit uneasy? Don't worry; we've got you covered. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through mastering SAT trigonometry, including the new additions of trigonometry and radians to the SAT math section. You'll gain a solid understanding of important trigonometric formulas like sine, cosine, and tangent, along with techniques to effectively apply these skills on SAT math questions. To ensure your readiness, we've thoughtfully included a set of SAT trigonometry practice problems with detailed explanations. Let's get started on your journey to conquering SAT math!

Introduction to SAT Trigonometry

New addition to SAT math

The SAT has evolved, and trigonometry is now part of the equation. While it may seem daunting, mastering trigonometry can significantly boost your math score. You'll encounter questions related to trigonometric ratios and angles measured in radians.

SOHCAHTOA and π angle measurements

Let's begin with the basics. SOHCAHTOA is your key to trigonometric success. It's an acronym that represents the sine (SOH), cosine (CAH), and tangent (TOA) functions. These functions relate the ratios of the sides of a right triangle to its angles. Additionally, you'll need to be familiar with angles measured in radians, where π (pi) plays a crucial role.

Tackling SAT trigonometry questions

Approaching trigonometry questions on the SAT requires a systematic strategy. We'll guide you through each step, from identifying the type of problem to applying the appropriate trigonometric concepts. With the right approach, you'll be ready to tackle these questions confidently.

Trigonometric formulas: sine, cosine, tangent

Significance of trigonometric formulas

Why should you bother mastering trigonometric formulas? Because they are the foundation of trigonometry, and you'll encounter them frequently on the SAT. These formulas enable you to relate the angles and sides of right triangles.

Sine, cosine, and tangent formulas

Let's delve into the specifics. The sine, cosine, and tangent formulas express the ratios of sides in a right triangle. We'll break down each formula, providing clear examples to illustrate their applications. Understanding these formulas is crucial for solving SAT trigonometry questions.

SOHCAHTOA and complementary angles

Remember the acronym SOHCAHTOA? It's not just a random assortment of letters. We'll explain how SOHCAHTOA relates to the sine, cosine, and tangent functions. Additionally, you'll learn about complementary angles and how they impact sine and cosine calculations.

How to apply trigonometry skills on SAT math

Types of trigonometry questions

There are two main types of trigonometry questions you'll encounter on the SAT: those involving finding the sine, cosine, or tangent of specific angles and those requiring you to determine these ratios based on given side measurements. We'll equip you with techniques for both.

Finding ratios with triangle sides

When you're given measurements of triangle sides, knowing how to find the sine, cosine, or tangent of an angle is essential. We'll provide step-by-step methods to tackle these problems effectively.

Using given ratios to solve

Sometimes, the SAT will provide you with the sine, cosine, or tangent of one angle and ask you to find the ratio for another angle. We'll show you how to use these given ratios to solve such questions efficiently.

Practical application through practice

The best way to master SAT trigonometry is through practice. We'll walk you through real SAT practice problems, applying the formulas and techniques we've discussed. With hands-on experience, you'll gain the confidence to ace trigonometry questions.

SAT trigonometry practice problems

To solidify your understanding, let's put everything into practice with some sample problems. Here are a few examples:

🚀 Problem 1:  Find the value of sin 60°.
Using the sine formula, sin 60° = √3/2.
🚀 Problem 2: Given cos α = 0.6 and α is an acute angle, find sin α.
Use the complementary angle relationship: sin α = √(1 - cos² α) = √(1 - 0.6²) = 0.8.
🚀 Problem 3:  In a right triangle, if the length of the opposite side is 4 and the hypotenuse is 5, find the sine of the angle θ.
Use the sine formula: sin θ = Opposite/Hypotenuse = 4/5.

Understanding the significance of radians in SAT math questions

Before we dive into radians, let's understand why they matter in the context of the SAT. The SAT math section often includes questions related to geometry and trigonometry, where angles play a pivotal role. Radians are a preferred unit of measurement for angles in many mathematical applications, making them an essential topic to master for the test.

What exactly are radians?

Radians are a way to measure angles, just like degrees. In the world of radians, one complete circle is equal to 2π radians (approximately 6.28318 radians). This might sound a bit abstract at first, but let's break it down with an example:

🚀 Imagine a pizza (who doesn't love pizza?). If you eat a quarter of the pizza, you've covered one-fourth of the whole circle. In radians, this is π/2 radians, which is equivalent to 90 degrees.

The relationship between degrees and radians

Understanding the relationship between degrees and radians is fundamental. You can convert between these two angle measures using a simple formula:

  • Degrees to Radians: radians = (degrees × π) / 180
  • Radians to Degrees: degrees = (radians × 180) / π

For instance, if you need to convert 60 degrees to radians:

  • 60 degrees = (60 × π) / 180 radians = π/3 radians.

Converting between angle measures

Imagine you're working on an SAT math problem that involves trigonometric functions and you're given an angle in degrees, but you need it in radians to proceed. You can efficiently convert it using the formula above.

Suppose you have an angle of 45 degrees, and you want it in radians:

  • 45 degrees = (45 × π) / 180 radians = π/4 radians.

Evaluating trigonometric functions in radians

The SAT often presents questions requiring you to evaluate trigonometric functions like sine, cosine, and tangent. Radians are particularly handy when working with these functions because they are the preferred unit for such calculations.

Let's say you need to find the sine of π/6 radians. You can do this by knowing that sin(π/6) is equal to 1/2.

SAT radians practice problems with solutions

Now that you have a good grasp of radians, it's time to put your knowledge to the test with some SAT practice problems:

🚀 Problem 1: Find the value of sin (π/3).
sin (π/3) = √3/2.
🚀 Problem 2: Convert 150 degrees to radians.
150 degrees = (150 × π) / 180 radians = 5π/6 radians.
🚀 Problem 3: Evaluate cos (π/4).
cos (π/4) = √2/2.

Practice these problems and use them as a stepping stone to tackle more complex SAT math questions.


1. Does SAT test trigonometry?

Yes, the SAT does include trigonometry questions in its math section. While it's not a major component, it's important to be prepared for these questions. You'll encounter problems that involve trigonometric ratios, such as sine, cosine, and tangent, as well as angles measured in radians. To excel on these questions, it's essential to have a good grasp of trigonometric concepts and their application.

2. What is the easiest way to solve trigonometry?

Solving trigonometry problems can become easier with practice and a solid understanding of key concepts. Here's a general approach:

a. Understand the problem: carefully read the problem and identify what's given and what you need to find.

b. Choose the right trigonometric ratio: determine whether you should use sine, cosine, or tangent based on the information provided.

c. Set up the equation: use the trigonometric ratio to set up an equation, relating the sides and angles of a right triangle.

d. Solve for the unknown: solve the equation for the unknown angle or side. Pay attention to units (degrees or radians) and round appropriately.

e. Check your answer: always double-check your solution to ensure it makes sense in the context of the problem.

Practice with a variety of trigonometry problems to become more comfortable with this approach.

3. What trigonometry do you need to know for SAT?

For the SAT, you need to be familiar with the basics of trigonometry. This includes understanding trigonometric ratios (sine, cosine, tangent) and how they relate to the sides of a right triangle. You should also know the acronym SOHCAHTOA, which helps you remember these ratios. Additionally, you'll encounter questions involving angles measured in radians, so knowing how to convert between degrees and radians is valuable. While the SAT doesn't delve into advanced trigonometry topics, a solid foundation in these concepts will prepare you for success.

4. Is the Law of Sines on the SAT?

The Law of Sines, which deals with non-right triangles and relates the ratios of sides to the sines of their opposite angles, is not typically tested on the SAT. The SAT primarily focuses on right triangles and basic trigonometric concepts like sine, cosine, and tangent. Therefore, you do not need to be concerned about the Law of Sines when preparing for the SAT. Instead, concentrate on mastering the fundamental trigonometric concepts mentioned earlier, as they are more relevant to the test.


Congratulations on completing this comprehensive guide to SAT trigonometry! We've covered everything you need to know to confidently tackle trigonometry questions on the SAT. You've learned about the new additions of trigonometry and radians to the SAT math section, gained a solid understanding of trigonometric formulas like sine, cosine, and tangent, and discovered effective techniques for applying these skills to SAT math questions. By practicing with real SAT trigonometry problems, you've honed your abilities and built the confidence needed to excel on test day. If you're looking for more practice questions and personalized feedback, consider subscribing to Aha, a learning website that offers a wealth of quality sample questions and uses AI to analyze your weak points. With dedication and the right tools, you're well on your way to conquering SAT math. Good luck on your SAT journey!

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