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Math 1 or 2?

longinghyphenlonginghyphen 33 replies12 postsRegistered User Junior Member
This might have been asked before. If so, please redirect me to that thread? But my question is: is taking Math 2 seen more favorably in admissions for T20 schools than taking Math 1? I know the general consensus about both tests: Math 2 is somewhat harder but has a generous curve that leads to lots of 800s, while Math 1 is easier but lacks that curve. I planned to take Math 1 just because it was primarily algebra and geometry which is what the math portion of the SAT is on. So I figured that I could study for SAT math section and Math 1 at the same time. But everyone I know is taking Math 2 because it’s more advance and selective schools will look at it more highly. But is that true? I actually have no problem with taking Math is 2. I’m pretty good at math and I think I’d do fine. But I already ordered a book for Math 1 and I’d rather not have to return it and order one for Math 2. Will this difference matter, especially considering I likely won’t be applying anywhere as a STEM major?
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Replies to: Math 1 or 2?

  • skieuropeskieurope 38465 replies6723 postsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    If you've taken precalc, take M2.
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  • makemesmartmakemesmart 1390 replies13 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    For Math I, in order to get 800, you might not miss single question, while Math II give you more leeway there. Math II is harder than math I, but prepping for it could also help you SAT math portion. Since you are not going to apply STEM elites, it might not matter which one you take.
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  • bluebayoubluebayou 26657 replies174 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    But my question is: is taking Math 2 seen more favorably in admissions for T20 schools than taking Math 1?

    Think about the competition. I would guess that the vast majority of students applying to Top 20 schools will be submitting Math 2. Why would you want to stand out with Math 1. Skirope is correct, if you are advanced in math and complete precalc junior year, Take math 2.
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 3848 replies83 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Actually a better question would be - when (and which school) would any decent university want to see Math 1?
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 667 replies8 postsRegistered User Member
    edited August 1
    While others have pointed out that many schools, MIT included, say they'll "accept" either Math Subject Test, and concluded that it doesn't matter, I stand by my opinion that a very good Math 2 score will be much more attractive than a very good Math 1 score. This would apply most anywhere, for any major, though obviously more significantly for STEM majors/top schools.

    If you've taken Pre-calc, going back to remember/study Math 1 topics may even be harder/result in a lower score. College Board itself says

    "If you have taken trigonometry or elementary functions (precalculus) or both, received grades of B or better in these courses, and are comfortable knowing when and how to use a scientific or graphing calculator, you should select the Level 2 test. If you are sufficiently prepared to take Level 2, but elect to take Level 1 in hopes of receiving a higher score, you may not do as well as you expect. You may want to consider taking the test that covers the topics you learned most recently, since the material will be fresh in your mind."

    I wouldn't let the effort/cost? of returning a book be your deciding factor.
    edited August 1
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  • longinghyphenlonginghyphen 33 replies12 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Ok. Wow, I had guessed that Math 2 might be the winner, but it seems like Math 1 is just as bad as not submitting a score at all. Thanks for the heads up!
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77125 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Actually a better question would be - when (and which school) would any decent university want to see Math 1?

    The main reason to take math level 1 would be if your middle school math placement had you on track to complete algebra 2 or integrated math 3 in 11th grade (the standard level progression). A student on the +1 track completing precalculus in 11th grade should be ready for math level 2.

    These days, math level 2 is much more commonly taken than math level 1, because SAT subject tests are mostly wanted by more selective colleges, whose applicants are more likely to be on the +1 (or higher) math track. Math level 1 has lower average scores, presumably due to the selection effect (not-as-strong-in-math students taking it).
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