© 2014 Society of Exploration Geophysicists. We evaluated a new spectral method and a new finite-difference (FD) method for seismic-wave extrapolation in time. Using staggered temporal and spatial grids, we derived a wave-extrapolation operator using a lowrank decomposition for a first-order system of wave equations and designed the corresponding FD scheme. The proposed methods extend previously proposed lowrank and lowrank FD wave extrapolation methods from the cases of constant density to those of variable density. Dispersion analysis demonstrated that the proposed methods have high accuracy for a wide wavenumber range and significantly reduce the numerical dispersion. The method of manufactured solutions coupled with mesh refinement was used to verify each method and to compare numerical errors. Tests on 2D synthetic examples demonstrated that the proposed method is highly accurate and stable. The proposed methods can be used for seismic modeling or reverse-time migration.