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# The Complete Guide to SAT Subject Tests in Mathematics

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## Replies to: The Complete Guide to SAT Subject Tests in Mathematics

I. Background InformationII. Preparation

III. Calculator

IV. Practice Tests

V. Tips and Tricks

VI. Free Resources.

I. Background Information1. What are the SAT IIs/Subject Tests?

SAT Subject Tests are multiple choice standardized tests in specific subject areas that most colleges require for admission. They are offered in October, November, December, January, May, and June, though it varies by test.

2. How many subject tests do I have to take and how many can I take at a time?

Many colleges require only two, but some (e.g. Harvard and Georgetown) require three. It never hurts though, to take three tests as they can only help you if you achieve decent scores.

You may take up to 3 tests at a time. You sign up for specific tests, but you can take any ones you want at the test site. However, if you take more than you signed up for you must pay a fee. Also, dont take a SAT II if youre not adept in the field. Kids who are good at their particular subject take the tests, so its not like youre competing against every Joe Shmoe.

3. Which ones should I take?

Take them in a variety of fields, but include one that is involved in a field you want to study in. For example, if you plan on majoring in chemistry, take chemistry. Also, some schools like MIT may require specific tests so check their web sites. I would suggest 1 math (preferably math II), 1 humanity (history or literature), and 1 science. If youre not planning on going into science, you might want to take a language. Keep in mind though that many native speakers take the language tests so the curve is harsher.

4. What are decent scores?

For the Ivies and other top caliber schools, 700+ is expected. For less selective schools, mid to high 600s is decent. Remember that these tests are often required in admission so good scores are necessary!

5. What are the math subject tests like?

Each one consists of 50 multiple choice questions to be answered in 60 minutes. The questions increase in difficulty as the test progresses. You receive one point for each question answered correctly, lose 1/4 of a point for each question answered incorrectly, and no points for each question left blank.

6. Whats the difference between Math I and Math II?

Math I covers material from Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II/Trigonometry. Math II covers all of the material from Math I as well as Precalculus.

7. What level should I take?

Unless you havent taken Precalculus, its in your best interest to take Math II. Math II covers more material, but it has an easier curve. That is to say, you can achieve a score of 43/50 (though it varies year by year) on Math II and still get an 800. You may miss one or two questions on Math I and automatically get bumped down to a 790. In addition, some colleges (like the UCs) only accept Math II.

II. PreparationObviously the best preparation is a solid foundation in math achieved by taking good math classes in school. However, we all know that not everyone gets a good math teacher every year. Thus, it becomes necessary to do some work outside of class to prepare.

Depending on your proficiency level, you will want to set aside 2-4 (or more) weeks to prepare. In my opinion, the best way to prepare is to take and review as many practice tests as possible. I will list various books that will assist you on the path to 800.

Amazon.com: The Official SAT Subject Tests in Mathematics Levels 1 & 2 Study Guide (Official Sat Subject Tests in Mathematics Levels 1 & 2 Study Guide): The College Board: Books

This is the official College Board study guide for Math I and II. It does not contain any substantial review material (lessons), but it offers 2 released tests in each of Math I and II. It also provides a scoring key that allows you to estimate what your score would be like on the real test. Real tests are indispensable!

Amazon.com: The Official Study Guide for All SAT Subject Tests (Real Sats): The College Board: Books

Another CB guide, this book contains one test each for Math I and II. However, it also contains one test for every other subject test, so you can use this book for future SAT Subject Tests.

Amazon.com: Barron's SAT Subject Test Math Level 2 2008 (Barron's How to Prepare for the Sat II Mathematics, Level Iic): Richard Ku M.A., Howard P. Dodge: Books

Barrons Math II is notorious for being MUCH more difficult than the actual Math II test. Dont buy this book if youre not looking for an 800. It provides a thorough and excessive review of the material and 6 (overly hard) practice tests. Ive heard of people getting 600s on the practice tests who ended up with 800.

Amazon.com: 15 Realistic Tests for the SAT Math Level 2: With Solutions: Rusen Meylani: Books

The RUSH book, this book has 15 practice tests for you to work through. Like Barrons, it is harder than the real test, but will prepare you well. Another dont buy if you dont want 800 book.

Amazon.com: Cracking the SAT Math 1 and 2 Subject Tests, 2007-2008 Edition (College Test Prep): Princeton Review: Books

Princeton Review is your best option if you are taking Math I or if an 800 is really not that important to you. This book covers both Math I and II. While it may be clearer and more concise than Barrons, it may not be enough for 800.

I also suggest using Sparknotes (www.sparknotes.com), which Ill discuss later.

In general, you fall into two categories, must have 800 and dont have to have 800 but want a good score

Must Have 800

- Barrons (if you need to review the material)

- RUSH (if you dont need to review)

Dont Have to Have 800

- PR (for practice tests and review)

Both

- Official CB Guides

III. CalculatorA calculator is allowed for both Math I and II. I recommend using a graphing calculator as it makes the problems easier and simply because I cant stand scientific ones. Youd be a fool to take the test without a calculator.

The test makers have a way of tricking people into thinking that a calculator is needed for every problem. However, it is often simpler and faster not to use one for certain problems. Clues like decimal answer choices will tip you off that a calculator is needed.

Amazon.com: Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Silver Edition Graphing Calculator: Electronics

I personally use the TI-84 Plus Silver Edition. Its a great calculator and very easy to use. You wont need anything more for high school math.

Amazon.com: Texas Instruments TI-89 Titanium Graphing Calculator: Electronics

The TI-89 is a very powerful calculator used in upper levels of math and science. Its not necessary to do well on Math I and II, but if your school lets you use this, buy it. The things you can do on it are numerous.

IV. Practice TestsSo how do you take practice tests? This is clich

kudos to you

follow this guide to doing the matrix

Math Menu on the TI-89: Matrix

just one more question: i've heard a lot about people saying how this test is basically a test of how well you know your calculator. are there any other programs you have to download onto your calculator that could save you time, come test day, or are those listed above what they were talking about?

I used a program during the SAT, but it only calculated things that would waste that to do by hand, distance formula, etc.

For every two questions I would get wrong, I would reread the section again to etch it into my brain

rinse and repeat, until you get all the practice questions correct.

Few questions [for anyone] about the Math subject tests: if I'm taking Pre-Cal Junior Year, would it be wise to take the Math II in Senior Year or just take Math I now?

James Ford your my hero