Mastering the SAT Subject Tests, Easier Than You Think! – Math Level 2

Posted by Alex O. on 9/14/18 7:01 PM

SAT Subject Test

Are you looking to present college admissions committees with a competitive application for programs in engineering, science, math, finance, or economics? Math is a basis for all of these subjects, and demonstrating mastery in math can really help your applications. By coupling high scores on the SAT or ACT math section, SAT Math Level 2 Subject Test, and an AP math exam, you can bolster your portfolio to impress colleges. In this blog post, we’ll specifically focus on the Math Level 2 SAT Subject Test, and discuss ways to improve your score and go into the exam room feeling confident.

What is the Math Level 2 SAT Subject Test?

The Math Level 2 exam is structurally the same as the Math Level 1 exam: it’s a 1-hour, 50-question, multiple-choice exam with five answer choices per question and a quarter-point penalty for guessing.  Like Math Level 1, you can use a calculator for the entire exam.

How is the Level 2 exam related to the Level 1 exam?

The topics in Math Level 2 build on the topics from Level 1, so it’s essential that you have a strong understanding of topics in Level 1. As a result, taking practice exams for both Math Level 1 and Level 2 will help prepare you for the exam. This is unlike my advice for students preparing for the Math Level 1 exam (where they should ignore topics that are only covered in Level 2). Make sure to check out my previous blog posts on the Math Level 1 exam and Tips for Getting a Perfect Score on a Standardized Math Test, as all the advice there is applicable to the Math Level 2 exam. Technically, there is one topic in Math Level 1 that is not covered in Math Level 2 (plane Euclidean geometry), but it is conceptually necessary to understand for topics in 3D geometry, which is covered on Math Level 2.

What should I study for the test?

My previous blog post mentioned topics that are on Math Level 2 and not on Math Level 1, so make sure to check out that list to see what you’ll be missing when taking Level 1 practice exams. Depending on your background, there are some areas that you may not have covered thoroughly in your high school math classes. Many students initially struggle with the statistics and data analysis topics, including least squares regression, standard deviation, and quantiles. Luckily, this is only roughly 10% of the exam. Introducing yourself to these concepts and really understanding stats questions on practice exams will go a long way to filling these gaps that might exist. Another area that sometimes can be tricky for some is the conics section (parabolas, circles, ellipses, hyperbolas, etc.). I find that these are covered in most high school curricula but just tend to be a topic you learn once and never come back to. Plus, they’re pretty confusing to being with, since it’s one of the first times students are introduced to non-functions. In these cases, find explanations and practice problems online related to conics to refresh yourself on and to build confidence in the subject. Then, look for these types of questions on practice Math Level 2 Subject Test exams to confirm your understanding.

General guidelines for the test

Firstly, the tips in my last blog post are still very helpful to the Math Level 2 Subject Test. In particular, I want to reiterate how much time you can save by being comfortable with your calculator and ensuring it is in the exact modes you want it to be in (radians/degrees, graphing window axes, etc.). The last thing you want is to run through calculations and not see your answer listed, spend time figuring out that you were in radian-mode and not degree-mode, and then redo all your calculations. Because the Math Level 2 exam (and all timed math exams) is a test of speed, being confident in your understanding of topics will help you not second-guess yourself and save time. When taking practice exams or even doing homework in your math classes, try solving problems using various approaches. This helps develop a holistic understanding of the topic and builds your confidence in the area. 

Applying these points to your study habits can really hone into your weaknesses for more efficient studying in the Math Level 2 exams. And make sure to check out my upcoming post on the Physics Subject Test if that’s applicable to you!

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