The pointless brother: Math Level 1

October 14, 2006 at 2:41 am 5 comments

Posted by Dee

The College Board offers two math SAT Subject Test options: Math Level 1 (previously known as Math IC) and Math Level 2 (previously known as Math IIC).

Honestly, don’t bother taking the Math Level 1.

My first reason against taking the Math Level 1 is because it’s a waste of time considering the regular SAT math section covers the same material. Compare the Math Level 1 with the mathematics section on the SAT Reasoning Test:

SAT Reasoning math section: Number and operations, algebra and functions, geometry & measurement, data analysis, statistics, and probability. Expected years of college preparatory math: three.

SAT Subject Test Math Level 1: Number and operations, algebra and functions, geometry & measurement, data analysis, statistics, and probability. Expected years of college preparatory math: three.

Wow, they’re the exact same thing! Especially as compared with the SAT Subject Test Math Level 2, which requires that you have additional skills in pre-calc and trigonometry, and expects you to have four years of college prep mathematics. (Math Level 1 expects you to take 2 years of algebra plus 1 year of geometry. Math Level 2 expects you’ve done the 2 years of algebra, 1 year of geometry, and another year of pre-calculus and/or trigonometry.)

So, from a content perspective, it just doesn’t make sense to take the Math Level 1 because you’ll already be showing the admissions committee your math abilities through the regular SAT math portion.

Reason number 2 against taking the Math Level 1 is based on schools’ standardized testing requirements. Take a look at which schools require which standardized tests in AdmitSpit’s post titled, “Standard list for colleges’ standardized testing requirements,” and you’ll see that most schools don’t specify which SAT Subject Tests you need to take. You’ll also notice that the top schools that DO specify particular SAT Subject Tests to take are mainly engineering schools or more math-oriented universities or majors, in which case, it’ll probably look pretty bad if you opt to take the Level 1 over the Level 2 exam anyways.

But, what is you’re bad at math? Well, then you’re probably not applying to engineering school, so you probably don’t need to take a math SAT Subject Test at all!

If you disagree with my logic here that the SAT Subject Test Mathematics Level 1 is pointless, leave a comment! I’d love to hear any other considerations that may prompt someone to take the Level 1 over the Level 2 exam.


Entry filed under: Academics, Admissions, AdmitSpit, Algebra, Calculator, College Board, Engineering, Euclid, Geometry, Major, Mathematics, Pythagoras, SAT, SAT II, Statistics, Subject test, Testing, Trigonometry.

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5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sam Jackson  |  October 15, 2006 at 9:18 pm

    Amusingly, most Exonians do much better on the M2C than the math 1–not because the testing group is self-selecting but simply because we’ve done the m2c stuff more recently (6th grade, as opposed to 1st… right?).

    Fun fun fun. I’m done with my College Board poison forever, I think.

  • 2. dhuv  |  December 22, 2006 at 9:14 pm

    i got my sat 2 results yesterday and was quite 720 in maths level 2 and physics 730.what should i submut these scores or should i plan a retest,,plz suggest..


  • 3. Anu  |  May 27, 2007 at 11:30 pm

    Isnt a 720 or 730 out of 800 a good score?
    I’m kind of alarmed..
    I plan to take the SATs in a few months and I’m sort of getting worried..

  • 4. Mike  |  May 30, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    Why not take both math level 1 and 2?

  • 5. Professor Nougat  |  May 22, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Whichever test you are more prepared for is the one you should take. ex: You are starting precalc and this is your junior year. You may not want to try and show mastery in a subject you aren’t even finished with. In this case take the math I exam. If you have completed pre-calc and are in calc go with the math II.


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