SAT Subject Test Math 1 vs Math 2: Which one do I take?
Many colleges require students to submit SAT Subject Test scores. If math is a strong subject for you, you’re probably deciding between which SAT Math Subject Test to take. There are two Math SAT Subject Tests: SAT Math 1 and SAT Math 2.
Math 2 is meant for students who have taken more high school math classes, as it covers a broader range of topics than Math 1. Aside from this, both have 50 multiple choice questions to complete in a 60 minute time limit.
See below for topics covered in Math 1, Math 2, similarities and differences, and other general tips.
Topics Covered on SAT Math 1
The SAT Subject Test Math 1 covers topics learned in one year of geometry and two years of algebra. See the list below:
|Topics and Subtopics||% of Math 1 SAT Subject Test||Approximate # of Questions|
|Number and Operations (Operations, ratio and proportion, complex numbers, counting, elementary number theory, matrices, sequences)||10-14%||5-7|
|Algebra and Functions (Expressions, equations, inequalities, representation and modelling, properties of functions (linear, polynomial, rational, exponential)||38-42%||19-21|
|Geometry and Measurement||38-42%||19-21|
|Coordinate: Lines, parabolas, circles, symmetry, transformations||8-12%||4-6|
|Three-dimensional: solids, surface area and volume (cylinders, cones, pyramids, spheres, prisms)||4-6%||2-3|
|Trigonometry: right triangles and identities||6-8%||3-4|
|Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability (Mean, median, mode, range, interquartile range, graphs and plots, least squares regression (linear), probability)||8-12%||4-6|
As you can see from the table, the majority of questions will cover algebra, functions, or geometry - so this is what you should focus your studying on. In addition, typically around 5 questions on data analysis/statistics/probability will be tested as well.
Topics Covered on SAT Math 2
The SAT Subject Test Math 2 covers the same topics as Math 1 plus precalculus and trigonometry. Something to note: there will be more advanced geometry topics like coordinate- and three-dimensional geometry. See the list below:
|Topics and Subtopics||% of Math 2 SAT Subject Test||Approximate # of Questions|
|Number and Operations (Operations, ratio and proportion, complex numbers, counting, elementary number theory, matrices, sequences, series, vectors)||10-14%||5-7|
|Algebra and Functions (Expressions, equations, inequalities, representation and modelling, properties of functions (linear, polynomial, rational, exponential, logarithmic, trigonometric, inverse trigonometric, periodic, piecewise, recursive, parametric)||48-52%||24-26|
|Geometry and Measurement||28-32%||14-16|
|Coordinate: lines, parabolas, circles, ellipses, hyperbolas, symmetry, transformations, polar coordinates||10-14%||5-7|
|Three-dimensional: solids, surface area and volume (cylinders, cones, pyramids, spheres, prisms), coordinates in three dimensions||4-6%||2-3|
|Trigonometry: right triangles, identities, radians, law of cosines, law of sines, equations, double angle formula||12-16%||6-8|
|Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability (Mean, median, mode, range, interquartile range, standard deviation, graphs and plots, least squares regression (linear, quadratic, exponential), probability)||8-12%||4-6|
Math 2 is weighted heavily towards algebra and functions (about half of the test is made up of these questions). Expect to see a good amount of trigonometry as well.
The most important topic to study for the Math 2 test is the properties of all different types of functions (including trig functions).
SAT SUBJECT TEST MATH 1 VS MATH 2: SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES
Numbers and Operations:
- Operations: basic multiplication/division/addition/subtraction. Order of operations is important!
- Ratio and Proportion: Value comparisons and relationships between value comparisons
- Complex Numbers: Numerical expressions that include imaginary numbers
- Counting: How many combinations are possible given certain conditions. For example, if there are 8 seats and 8 people, how many orders could they sit in?
- Elementary Number Theory: Properties of integers, factorization, prime factors, etc.
- Matrices: Basic operations with number grids
- Sequences: Number patterns
- Geometry on the coordinate plane: lines, parabolas, circles, symmetry, and transformations. Mainly focused on properties of figures: is this shape symmetrical? What is the length of this line segment?
- Three-dimensional: Calculating the surface area and volume of cylinders, cones, pyramids, spheres, and prisms
- Trigonometry: Right triangles, Pythagorean theorem, basic trig identities such as (sine, cosine, tangent)
- Expressions: Mathematical phrases with variables, numbers, and operators (like x + 3 or 2x + 9y − 4). Know how to factor, expand, and manipulate these expressions
- Equations: Solving equations and systems of equations
- Inequalities: Expressions set to be greater or less than a value, like x + 3 < 10. Know how to solve these and systems of inequalities
- Representation and Modeling: Creating equations that model a given scenario. Know how to create and interpret these
- Properties of Functions: Linear, polynomial, rational, exponential - be able to identify the following kinds of functions and understand how they work, their graphs, and how to factor them. Also know how to identify x- and y-intercepts
Data Analysis, Statistics, and Probability
- Mean, Median, Mode, Range
- Interquartile Range: A measure of a data set variability based on the range between data quartiles 3 and 1
- Graphs and Plots: Creating and interpreting visual representations of data sets
- Least Squares Regression (Linear): How closely are two variables correlated? How much does the data set resemble a straight line
Topics on Math 1 Only
The only topic on Math 1 that is not on Math 2 is plane geometry, which makes up around 20% of Math 1.
Topics on Math 2 Only
Math 2 contains a fairly large number of topics that aren’t tested on Math 1. The following are some examples:
Numbers and Operations
- Series: The sum of a sequence.
- Vectors: Geometric objects with size (length) and direction; you’ll need to be able to do basic operations with vectors.
- Coordinate: Equations and properties of ellipses and hyperbolas in the coordinate plane, polar coordinates
- Three-Dimensional: Plotting lines and determining distances between points in three dimensions
- Radian Measure: Know how to convert to and from degrees
- Law of Cosines and Law of Sines: Know the formulas and how to use them
- Equations: Know how to identify and solve algebraic equations involving trigonometric identities, like 10 = cos(x + 8)
- Double Angle Formulas: Formulas that allow you to find information on an angle twice as large as the given angle measure
Properties of Functions: Be able to identify the following kinds of functions and understand how they work, how they look when graphed, and how to factor them. You should also be able to identify x- and y-intercepts and any unique characteristics they might have - Logarithmic - Trigonometric Functions - Inverse Trigonometric Functions - Periodic - Piecewise - Recursive - Parametric
Data Analysis, Statistics and Probability
- Least Squares Regression (quadratic, exponential): How well the points of a data set corresponds to a quadratic or exponential shape