This question was submitted to me the last time I
did a question writing contest. It’s pretty good, right?

Here’s something I believe to be true: if you can write a convincing SAT math question, right down to realistic wrong answer choices, you’re close to mastering the concepts in the question. That’s because question writing forces you not only to understand the rules, but also to think through the tricky bits of the rules, and all the rules those are based on, and all the rules those are based on, all the way down to the basic building blocks of math.

To make a long story short, I think this is a fantastic, not to mention fun, way to hone your SAT math skills.

To make it even more fun, I’m going to hold a contest. For the month of December 2013, I will give away up to a book (or up to 3 books) every Friday for the best SAT math question(s) submitted that week. The plan is to give away 1 book per week. I say “up to 3” because I want flexibility if I can’t choose a favorite from a bunch of good submissions.

Here’s how it’s going to work
  • Submit your question in the comments on this post. If your question includes a figure, attach an image of the figure to the comment. You’re all teenagers, so I trust you can figure out how to attach an image with DISQUS.
  • You may submit 1 question per week. 
  • It must be multiple choice. Part of the feel of a real SAT question is that its incorrect answer choices are not completely random. They often anticipate likely mistakes a test taker might make.
I will be the sole judge. I fully admit up front that judging the quality of a single SAT question is kinda subjective. By entering, you agree not to whine if you think your question is great and I somehow don’t pick it. The most important thing to me as judge is the feel of the question as a whole. I’ve seen a lot of SAT math questions, so I have a good sense of how a question should feel. You need to match that. Other than feel…
  • Your question should be challenging (level 4 or 5 difficulty), but not impossible. Remember: real SAT questions usually look harder than they are.
  • Your question can’t require knowledge that the SAT doesn’t require.
  • Your question should not require lengthy calculations to solve.
  • If other people like your question, and upvote it in the comments, I will take that into consideration. But not much consideration.
I will announce winners in the comments section below, and also on Facebook and Twitter, on Friday nights. Then I will contact winners to get their shipping addresses.

I love the discussion that’s been going on in the comments of this post. You guys have really embraced this contest and there were a bunch of great submissions for week 1. The winner this week is Martin, who submitted this gem:

What I love about it is that it puts one good twist on a concept everyone knows. It’s the perfect level of difficulty, it’s formatted well, and it’s worded carefully and precisely. Excellent work!

Let’s keep the conversation going strong for the rest of the month! There are more books to be won!


Two winners this week! Here they are, for your PWNing pleasure:

Congratulations Damon and…Guest!

Remember, this contest continues throughout December, so if you haven’t won yet, there’s still time! Keep these great questions coming!


After a week 3 that yielded some interesting questions but no winners, week 4 has two winners! Congratulations are in order to Jeff and Trippy, whose questions are below. They both hit all the marks—they test only concepts the SAT tests, they require one small flash of insight, and very little work beyond that. They’re both probably slightly harder than questions you’ll see on your SAT, but they’re great practice.

And with that, this contest is over. Thanks to everyone who wrote questions and made this so much fun!