Discussion about SAT Math Level 1 vs. Math Level 2 Subject Test

Let’s start with the direct answer and then backtrack into the explanation. If you have taken trigonometry and precalculus, by all means take Math Level 2.

Breakdown of Question Categories:

  • 10-14% of questions focus on numbers and operations
  • 48-52% focus on algebra and functions
  • 28-32% focus on geometry (minus plane geometry)
  • 6-10% focus on data analysis, statistics and probability.

The Explanation:

One of the main criteria for getting into competitive colleges is that you show a propensity to take challenging courses. Why, then, would that be any different for the SAT Subject Tests? The answer is, “it isn’t!”

As a college candidate in this highly competitive, supercharged academic climate, you must do everything possible to stand out. One of the things you can do to stand out is to take the most challenging tests and classes possible. However, there is a silver lining. It is actually easier to earn a high score in Math Level 2 than on Math Level 1! While that might sound crazy, it is, in fact, the truth. The scaling of the harder exam is much more forgiving. You can have many more wrong answers on Math Level 2 and get a higher score, even though your percentile may be lower. The question is, “does percentile matter.” In most cases, the answer is no. The score is the thing. This is true for exactly the same reason that colleges super score your SATs. They want to show statistics of high scores; in virtually no cases do colleges show statistical percentile rankings of their entering freshman class for SAT Subject Tests. Instead, they show scores.

In closing, most students who have taken a year of precalculus and earned at least a B should take Math Level 2. Of course, the best way to judge is to take samples of both tests.  These real sample simple are available in a book published by the College Board which is available on their website.  Do not use commercial study manuals practice tests in making this determination!