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When Should I Take the SAT Math Level 2 Subject Test?

Posted by Rebecca Safier | Dec 30, 2018 8:30:00 AM

SAT Subject Tests, SAT Logistics



Are you planning to take the Math II SAT Subject Test for your college applications? As you know, the Math 2 subject test covers more advanced math concepts than the Math I. Because of this, you want to make sure you're taking it at the right time to achieve a high score.

This article will help you figure out exactly when is the best time for you take this test. First, let's quickly review what's on the Math 2 SAT Subject Test.


What's On the Math Level II Subject Test?

Like the Math I Subject Test, the Math II test covers algebra and geometry. Additionally, it tests trigonometry and elementary functions, which describe a relationship between an input and output. A simple function question may ask you to solve for x, while others may ask you to define a function's range or domain or to graph it. I'll show some example problems of function questions that appear on the Math II test below.

First, here's the breakdown of what percentage of the test covers each content area. As you can see, algebra and geometry make up a significantly larger portion of the questions than number / operations and data analysis / probability.  


Math Concept Approximate Percentage On Test
Number and operations 10-14%
Algebra and functions 48-52%
Geometry and measurement (coordinate, three-dimensional, and trigonometry) 28-32%
Data analysis, statistics, and probability 8-12%


Some of these concepts appear on the math section of the general SAT, while others, like trigonometry, elementary functions, and graphing, are more advanced and specific to the SAT Math 2 Subject Test.

The following are examples of function and graphing questions you might see on the Math II Subject Test.




The SAT Math Level 2 test contains questions that ask you to define the range or domain of a function.





Function questions may also present you with a graph or, like in the question below, ask you to draw or visualize your own graph and manipulate it to reflect changes in a function.




The answers to these questions are D, D, and B, respectively. 

Studying with lots of official practice questions, along with exceling in your school math courses, is the best way to prepare yourself for the Math II Subject Test.

Like all the SAT Subject Tests, the Math Level 2 test is 60 minutes long. In this hour, it asks you to answer 50 questions.

Now that we've reviewed what's on the Math Level 2 test, when's the best time for you to take it?



When Should You Take the SAT Math Level 2 Subject Test?

What Year Should You Take the Test?

College Board recommends that you should take more than three years of college prep math before you take the Math II Subject Test. These years should include two classes in algebra and one class in geometry, at least. A class in trigonometry and/or precalculus is very helpful, too.

So if you take algebra in eighth grade, geometry in 9th, algebra again in 10th, and trigonometry/precalculus in 11th, then you would probably be in the best position to take the Math II Subject Test at the end of 11th grade.

If you are taking trigonometry/precalculus as a sophomore, then you may be in a good position to take the Subject Test at the end of sophomore year. Usually you want to take Math II, and any other Subject Test, at the end of your school year when the course content is freshest in your mind.

That being said, which Subject Test dates coincide with the end of the academic year?




What Test Date Should You Choose?

The Math Level 2 test is offered at various dates throughout the year. June may be the best time to take it, with May as a close runner up.

Math II is offered on May 5 and June 2. Its tentative spring dates for 2020 are May 2 and June 6.

Sign up by about a month in advance, if not sooner, just like the SAT. If you're taking the general SAT in the same year as the Subject Test, which one should you schedule first? 


What About All Your Other Tests, like the SAT/ACT and APs? 

A smart way to schedule your Subject Test is to sign up for it after you take the general SAT. You'll likely study a lot for the math section of the general SAT, and this studying could overlap with your Subject Test prep.

If you're taking both tests in the same year, you could take the general SAT in March (or May), and the Subject Test in May or June. Remember, you can't take the Subject Test on the same day as the general SAT, but you can take up to three Subject Tests on one date. 

While SAT prep can be helpful for the Math II test, aligning these tests should be a secondary concern. The most important consideration is subject mastery.

So if you've taken trigonometry and precalculus as a sophomore, then you'll probably be best served taking the Subject Test at the end of your sophomore year (which may be a year earlier than you're taking the general SAT). This could also be a good way to spread out your tests and have less on your plate in the spring of junior year.

While the Subject Test may or may not coincide with your studying for the SAT, it may overlap with a class final or even AP test. This could further help you know the math concepts inside and out, so you can achieve a strong Subject Test score for your college applications.


To Sum Up...

A high score on the Math II Subject Test is impressive to any college, and especially to selective technical and engineering schools like MIT and CalTech! By planning your study schedule and choosing the best test date, you'll be in the best position to score high on this competitive and impressive Subject Test.


What's Next?

You might be familiar with what's a good score for the general SAT, but what's a good test score for the SAT Subject Tests? Good scores actually differ by each Subject Test. Learn all about the averages and good scores for each test here.

Are you a math whiz aiming for a perfect score on the SAT math? Read all about how to get an 800 in math by a perfect scorer on the SAT.


Need a little extra help prepping for your Subject Tests? We have the industry's leading SAT Subject Test prep programs (for all non-language Subject Tests). Built by Harvard grads and SAT Subject Test full or 99th %ile scorers, the program learns your strengths and weaknesses through advanced statistics, then customizes your prep program to you so that you get the most effective prep possible.

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Rebecca Safier
About the Author

Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.

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