SAT Subject Tests: Math I vs. Math II


For high school juniors and seniors, it is important to decide which SAT IIs (one hour tests in specific subjects) are best to take. Many colleges require scores from at least two subject tests, so it makes sense to take subjects tests in a few different areas and select the best results. There are so many different subject tests to choose from that picking the right ones can be difficult. The tests can be broken down into three main areas, which can help students choose the best ones. There are language subject tests, covering everything from Latin to Chinese; there are humanities-oriented tests, like the English subject test or US history test; finally, there are science-based or quantitative tests, like the math subject tests or biology tests.

Who Should Take a SAT Subject Test in Math?

If a student intends to pursue any kind of math- or science-oriented major in college, it’s a good idea to take one of the math subject tests. Colleges want to know that prospective students already have basic skills that will be important in later science and math classes, and a great math subject test score is a good way to show colleges a strong math foundation.

Differences between the Math I and Math II SAT Subject Tests

For students who intend to take a math subject test, there are two to choose from: Math I or Math II. Both are an hour long, and both have fifty multiple-choice questions that increase in difficulty as the test goes on. However, the two tests cover different areas of math. Math II covers more advanced geometry, includes polar coordinates, and it also has more questions on algebra and functions than Math I. As these topics are usually taught late in high school, Math II is usually considered more “advanced,” while Math I is more “basic.” As some students may be more comfortable with certain subjects than others, choosing Math I or Math II is not just a question of choosing the “easy” or “hard” test; every student needs to weigh his or her strengths and weaknesses against the content of each test.

If a student is still having trouble deciding which test is best, he or she could take a practice Math I and Math II test, and then compare results. This will give a rough estimate of how prepared the student is for the concepts on each test, and that can help guide later study and narrow down which test the student should sign up for.

Private SAT Math Tutoring NYC

After choosing which test to take--the SAT Math I or Math II Subject Test--the next step is to prepare for the actual test. A motivated student can study alone, but working with a private SAT math tutor has lots of benefits.

For tests as specialized as the math subject tests, it’s important to have a solid understanding of every math concept that will appear on the test, and working with a private math tutor will help isolate any areas that need improvement. A tutor can also give his or her students individual attention, which will make it even easier to find and improve any problem areas before the test. A tutor can also explain tricky problems in several different ways, which will help make sure that the answer to every practice problem makes complete sense. There are lots of seemingly trick questions on both math subject tests, and a tutor who is familiar with both Math I and II subject tests can show students common errors to avoid.

Working with a private SAT math tutor is always most useful when tutoring is used as a supplement to a personal study routine that includes doing practice tests. So why not get started now with some practice questions from the College Board, the administrator of the SAT Subject Tests in Math.