SAT Trigonometry Guide

Trigonometry can be taught at various grade levels depending on the school’s curriculum, but it is generally introduced around 11th grade. This means that depending on when you choose to take the SAT, you may not have studied trigonometry in school yet. 

If your SAT date is coming up but you’re not enrolled in trigonometry yet, it’s important to take the initiative and learn some of the basics for yourself. 

A Brief Intro to Trigonometry

Many different types of math are featured on the SAT, including trigonometry. Trigonometry, or trig, is all about understanding triangles. Specifically, the main goal of trig is to determine the unknown lengths of a triangle’s sides with certain information already given. 

Need to brush up on your trig or learn some of the fundamentals before you take the SAT? When you study with Jantzi, you’ll have all the information you need to score high. 

To help you become familiar with the topic before your first Jantzi session, however, here are some of the basics of trigonometry that you’ll need to know to master the SAT math section. 

The Pythagorean Theorem

If you’ve taken geometry before, you may be familiar with the Pythagorean theorem. This theorem is as follows:

a2 + b2 = c2

In this theorem, a and b represent the legs of a triangle, while c represents the triangle’s hypotenuse. As a refresher, the hypotenuse is the side of the triangle that is opposite the 90-degree angle. The Pythagorean theorem is a common function of trigonometry. 

SAT Trigonometry Guide


SOHCAHTOA is an acronym used in trig that describes three of the subject’s most common problem-solving functions. Using the different aspects of SOHCAHTOA, you can find the missing length or angle degree in a triangle much more easily. 

SOH stands for sine=opposite/hypotenuse. CAH stands for cosine=adjacent/hypotenuse. TOA stands for tangent=opposite/adjacent. The equation you use will depend on which side of the triangle you need to solve for in a given problem. 


While SOHCAHTOA outlines the details of how to solve for each side of a triangle, the first letters of each equation are also related to one another. Once you’ve determined the sine, cosine, or tangent of a triangle, you can plug it into sine/cosine=tangent to complete the problem and find the lengths of all of the triangle’s sides. 

Secant, Cosecant, Cotangent

Before you can understand what secant, cosecant, and cotangent represent in trig, it’s important to remember which main terms these additional terms are associated with:

  • Sine/cosecant
  • Cosine/secant
  • Tangent/cotangent

Cosecant, secant, and cotangent each represent the reciprocal of sine, cosine, and tangent. Essentially, you would reverse the numerator and denominator of the equations for sine, cosine, and tangent to find their reciprocals. 

Master SAT Trigonometry With Jantzi Test Prep

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding trigonometry. Want to set yourself up for success on your SAT math portion? Book SAT tutoring with Jantzi today.