Of all the SAT
math review books, this one seemed to approach the subject in the most
logical fashion.

- C. Wright

Welcome to Acing the SAT Subject Tests in Math Level 1 and Level 2!
As you get ready to tackle either one of these very challenging exams, this page will give some background information about the SAT Subject Tests and advice for getting the most out of this book and your individual test preparation.

How to Use this Book

Part A of this book, the Math Review, contains twenty chapters that teach you all the concepts you need for the Subject Tests in Math Level 1 and Math Level 2. Each chapter contains a tutorial, exercise set, and solutions set. The tutorials are broken into a handful of concepts with concise explanations and illustrations.

Each concept is followed by an example problem and solution, so you can see how it might be used on the Subject Test. Keep a pencil handy as you read through the tutorial, and work out example problems as you go.

From the tutorial, go on to the exercise set. Correct it using the answer key, and for problems you have missed, consult the answers and explanations section. The detailed solutions show you how to work out each problem step by step. Part B consists of four practice tests each for Level 1 and Level 2. Students taking the Level 2 should complete all of the Level 1 tests first, making sure you have mastered that material before moving on to the Level 2 tests. Each test is one hour long. Give yourself enough time to finish the test in one sitting.


Subject Tests are scored on a scale of 800. After completing a test use the Level 1 or Level 2 scoring guide (page 355 and page 467) to calculate your score. Remember that these scores are only an approximation of your performance: the scale actually works like a curve using the scores of all students nationwide who take a particular Subject Test on a particular day, and thus varies slightly with each test administration. Nonetheless, variations in scoring are usually slight, with an average score being about 500. After working through the tests in this book you should have a good idea of how you’re doing.

Study Tmetable

Ideally you should give yourself two or three months before the test to work through this book from start to finish. Working through a chapter or practice test every day or two, you will have plenty of time left to review and redo questions you’ve missed or struggled with. If you’re short on time, pick the chapters on topics you are weakest in. In fact, you could start out by taking one of the practice tests, and seeing which kinds of questions you miss more of.

Final Note

Remember, the Subject Test is an achievement test—it’s designed to reward learners and doers, and stump even natural math geniuses—so unfortunately there are no shortcuts to a high score. But by applying some time and effort to take advantage of the arsenal of tools in this book, you will gain the skills and confidence you need to ace the Math Subject Test!

What is the Subject Test?

Subject Tests are hour-long tests that measure your knowledge of specific subjects in math, science, social science, and language. Many colleges require two or three Subject Tests and recommend that Mathematics be among the tests taken. Even for schools that do not require them, Subject Test scores are an increasingly important factor in college admissions. That’s because the Subject Tests, much like AP exams, are achievement tests that indicate a student has taken hard classes and challenged him/herself academically.

What is the difference between the Math Level 1 and Math Level 2 tests?

The Level 1 covers two years of college prep algebra and one year of college prep geometry. The Level 2 covers these subjects at a higher level (testing some harder algebra and geometry concepts not found on the Level 1) plus some trigonometry/ pre-calculus. Each test is one hour long and contains 50 multiple-choice questions.

Which Math Test Should You Take?

First of all, be advised that some universities no longer accept the Math Level 1, or give less weight to applicants who have taken this test. Therefore deciding which test to take may simply depend on which colleges you are applying to. Check with your counselor and the individual schools you are applying to for their requirements.

Even if the colleges you are applying to accept both levels, choosing the more difficult Level 2 test may be to your advantage. Note that while the Level 2 is harder, the curve is slightly more generous (e.g. you can usually miss a few questions on the Level 2 and still get a perfect score of 800).

To help you figure out if you’re ready for the Level 2, most of the Level 2 concepts and questions (denoted by the symbol L2 ) have been placed separately at the end of each tutorial and exercise set in this book. For students trying to decide between the two tests, you can complete all of the problems and compare your performance on both types of questions. As long as you are doing all right on the Level 1 questions, it may be worth the time to study and work on the Level 2 material, even if your initial performance on those harder questions isn’t great. If you are doing very poorly on both types, it may be sensible to first focus on mastering the Level 1 material.


Scientific and graphing calculators are allowed on both the Level 1 and Level 2 tests. A graphing calculator is necessary for some questions, and makes others much easier and quicker to solve. You should have your graphing calculator with you as you work through this book so you are comfortable using it by test day. (And be sure to take extra batteries to the testing center.) Registering for the test Plan to take the Subject Tests at the end of your junior year or in the fall of your senior year, after completing the SAT I. (If you haven’t taken the SAT I yet, check out our book Acing the SAT I Math!) Contact the colleges you are applying to about deadlines for taking the Subject Test. Register at least a month in advance to avoid late fees, and to make sure you get a testing location close to home! You can take up to three Subject Tests in one testing day. Check the College Board website (www.collegeboard.com) for upcoming test dates.

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