In addition to the SAT and PSAT tests, the College Board also offers subject matter tests which assess your competence in subjects you studied in high school. These are essential for assessing your mathematics and science abilities when applying for schools in these subject areas. In this article, I will discuss the SAT Subject Tests in Mathematics.
There are two SAT Subject Tests in Mathematics — 1 and 2. Which one you should sit for depends on which math classes you have taken.
SAT Subject Test Mathematics 1
SAT Subject Test Mathematics 1 expects that you have already completed the following math courses, or their equivalent:
- Two years of Algebra
- One year of Geometry
The anticipated skills you should possess are:
- Number and operations
- Algebra and functions
- Geometry and measurement (plane Euclidean, coordinate, three-dimensional, and trigonometry)
- Data analysis, statistics, and probabilityThe specific topics Mathematics I tests are:
And the topics are:
- Orders of operation
- Ratios and proportions
- Complex numbers
- Elementary number theory, matrices and sequences
- Algebraic expressions, equations, inequalities
- Linear equations
- Rational numbers
- Plane Euclidean Geometry
- Solving for surface area and volume of three-dimensional solids
- Statistical functions, such as mean, median, mode, range, interquartile range, graphs and plots, least squares linear regressions and probability.
The SAT II Mathematics 2 Test
The Mathematics 2 Test assesses, in addition to the above subjects, trigonometry and elementary precalculus. If you have taken trigonometry and precalculus, you should take this second test, thereby highlighting your skills in higher-level mathematics.
These additional topics include:
- Logarithmic, trigonometric, periodic, piecewise, recursive and parametric equations
- Right triangles, identities, radian measure, law of cosines, law of sines, equations and double angle formulas (12 - 16% of the test)
Each test consists of 50 multiple choice questions in a 60-minute period, which works out to 1.2 minutes per question. You are encouraged to bring a calculator you are comfortable with using, first and foremost, though a graphing calculator is preferred.
Each test is scored on a scale from 200 - 800. In 2015, the top 90% of students who took the Mathematics 1 test scored 750 or higher. 50% of the students scored 640 or higher. Note that the scores on subject tests tend to be higher than SAT scores.
Regarding the Mathematics 2 test, 81% or higher scored a perfect 800. 50% of the students taking the Mathematics 2 Subject Test scored 710 or higher.
Which SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Test Should You Take?
If you have taken trigonometry and precalculus, received grades of B or higher, and are comfortable using a scientific or graphing calculator, the College Board recommends taking the Mathematics 2 subject test. They also warn against taking the Mathematics I test instead in hopes of scoring better. You will most likely do better taking the test that covers the topics you learned most recently.
How to Prepare for the Tests
The best way to prepare for this and any test is to take as many practice tests as you can. Your best source for test prep and test materials is the The Official SAT Subject Tests in Mathematics Levels 1 & 2 Study Guide, which contains two full-length previously released tests. Simulate the testing situation to the best of your ability, take the test, score yourself, and correct your mistakes. Then rinse and repeat.
More information about the Mathematics Subject Tests can be found on the College Board website here.