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SAT Subject TestsMathematics Level IIc 2005-2006
KaplanCopyright © 2005 Kaplan
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Chapter One: Getting Ready for SAT Subject Test: Mathematics
• Understand SAT Subject Tests
• Know what the SAT Subject Test: Mathematics exams will test
You're serious about going to the college of your choice. You wouldn't have opened this book otherwise. You've made a wise choice, because this book can help you to achieve your goal. It'll show you how to score your best on the SAT Subject Test: Mathematics. But before turning to the math content, let's look at the SAT subject test as a whole.
Frequently Asked Questions
The following background information about the SAT subject test is important to keep in mind as you get ready to prep for the SAT Subject Test: Mathematics Level 2.
What Is the SAT Subject Test?
Known until 1994 as the College Board Achievement Tests, the SAT subject test is actually a set of more than 20 different subject tests. These tests are designed to measure what you have learned in such subjects as Literature, American History and Social Studies, Biology, and Spanish. Each test lasts one hour and consists entirely of multiple-choice questions. On any one test date, you can take one, two, or three subjecttests.
How Does the SAT Subject Test Differ from the SAT?
The SAT is largely a test of verbal and math skills. True, you need to know some vocabulary and some formulas for the SAT; but it's designed to measure how well you read and think rather than how much you remember. The SAT subject tests are very different. They're designed to measure what you know about specific disciplines. Sure, critical reading and thinking skills play a part on these tests, but their main purpose is to determine exactly what you know about math, history, chemistry, and so on.
How Do Colleges Use the SAT Subject Test?
Many people will tell you that the SATs measure only your ability to perform on standardized exams -- that they measure neither your reading and thinking skills nor your level of knowledge. Maybe they're right. But these people don't work for colleges. Those schools that require SATs feel that they are an important indicator of your ability to succeed in college. Specifically, they use your scores in one or both of two ways: to help them make admissions and/or placement decisions.
Like the SAT, the SAT subject tests provide schools with a standard measure of academic performance, which they use to compare you to applicants from different high schools and different educational backgrounds. This information helps them to decide if you're ready to handle their curriculum.
SAT subject test scores may also be used to decide what course of study is appropriate for you once you've been admitted. A high score on an SAT Subject Test: Mathematics Level 2 may mean that you'll be exempted from an introductory math course.
Which SAT Subject Tests Should I Take?
The simple answer is: those that you'll do well on. High scores, after all, can only help your chances for admission. Unfortunately, many colleges demand that you take particular tests, usually including one of the Mathematics tests. Some schools will give you some choice in the matter, especially if they want you to take a total of three tests. Before you register to take any tests, therefore, check with the colleges you're interested in to find out exactly which tests they require. Don't rely on high school guidance counselors or admissions handbooks for this information. They might not give you accurate or current information.
When Are the SAT Subject Tests Administered?
Most of the SAT subject tests are administered six times a year: in October, November, December, January, May, and June. A few of the tests are offered less frequently. Due to admissions deadlines, many colleges insist that you take the SAT subject test no later than December or January of your senior year in high school. You may even have to take it sooner if you're interested in applying for "early admission" to a school. Those schools that use scores for placement decisions only may allow you to take the SAT subject test as late as May or June of your senior year. You should check with colleges to find out which test dates are most appropriate for you.
How Do I Register for the SAT Subject Test?
The College Board administers the SAT subject tests, so you must sign up with them. The easiest way to register is to obtain copies of the SAT Registration Bulletin and Taking the SAT Subject Test. These publications contain all of the necessary information, including current test dates and fees. They can be obtained at any high school guidance office or directly from the College Board.
You can also register online. Visit the College Board's Website at collegeboard.com for more information. If you have previously registered for an SAT or SAT subject test, you can reregister by telephone for a fee of $10. If you choose this option, you should still read the College Board publications carefully before you make any decisions.
How Are the SAT Subject Tests Scored?
Like the sections of the SAT, the SAT subject tests are scored on a 200-800 scale.
What's a "Good" Score?
That's tricky. The obvious answer is: the score that the colleges of your choice demand. Keep in mind, though, that SAT subject test scores are just one piece of information that colleges will use to evaluate you. The decision to accept or reject you will be based on many criteria, including your high school transcript, your SAT scores, your recommendations, your personal statement, your interview (where applicable), your extracurricular activities, and the like. So, failure to achieve the necessary score doesn't automatically mean that your chances of getting in have been damaged. If you really want a numerical benchmark, a score of 600 is considered very solid.
What Should I Bring to the SAT Subject Test?
It's a good idea to get your test materials together the day before the tests. You'll need an admission ticket; a form of identification (check the Registration Bulletin to find out what is and what is not permissible); a few sharpened No. 2 pencils; a good eraser; and a scientific calculator. If you'll be registering as a standby, collect the appropriate forms beforehand. Also, make sure that you know how to get to the test center.
Content of SAT Subject Test: Mathematics
There's a lot of overlap between what's tested on Level 1 and what's tested on Level 2. But there's also a lot that's tested on Level 2 only, and even some math that's tested on Level 1 only.
Level 1 is meant to cover the math you'd get in two years of algebra and one year of geometry. Level 2 is meant to cover that much math plus what you'd get in a year of trigonometry and/or precalculus. There is no calculus on either test.
In order to make room for more questions on more advanced topics, Level 2 has fewer questions on the more basic topics. In fact, Level 2 has no plane geometry questions at all. Here's the official breakdown, according to the College Board's publication Taking the SAT Subject Tests.
Level 2 is weighted toward the more advanced topics, but it still tests your understanding of the basics. Take the case of plane geometry. Ostensibly Level 2 has no plane geometry questions. But to do a lot of the more advanced Level 2 questions -- solid geometry, coordinate geometry, trigonometry -- you have to know all about plane geometry.
The Content Pyramid
The seven content areas are not equally difficult topics. However, they do overlap. Think about how you learned these subjects. You didn't start with trigonometry or functions, did you? Of course not. Math is cumulative. Advanced subjects are built upon basic subjects. Think of the seven content areas as parts of a pyramid.
The content areas on the bottom -- algebra and plane geometry -- are the foundations upon which all the others are built. When you learned the math represented in this pyramid, you started at the bottom and worked your way up. That's the same way you should review this math in getting ready for the SAT subject test. Firm up the foundations, and work your way up to more advanced topics.
Finding Your Level
The first thing to do to get ready for SAT Subject Test: Mathematics Level 2 is to be sure you are taking the right test. The information you need to make that decision, besides the differences in content are, level of difficulty, scoring, and reputation.
Level of Difficulty and Scoring
The second and third factors to consider in deciding which test to take are level of difficulty and scoring. Level 2 questions are considerably more difficult than Level 1 questions. Some Level 2 questions are more difficult because they test more advanced topics. But even the Level 2 questions on basic math are generally more difficult than their counterparts on Level 1. This big difference in level of difficulty, however, is partially offset by differences in the score conversion tables. On Level 1, you would probably need to answer every question correctly to get an 800. On Level 2, however, you can get six or seven questions wrong and still get an 800. On Level 1 you would need a raw score of more than 20 (out of 50) to get a 500, but on Level 2 you can get a 500 with a raw score as low as about 11.
You don't need so many right answers to achieve a particular score on Level 2, so don't assume that you'll get a higher score by taking Level 1. If you've had a year of trigonometry and/or precalculus, you might actually find it easier to reach a particular score goal by taking Level 2.
The final factor to consider is reputation. Admissions people know how much more math you have to know to get a good score on Level 2 than on Level 1. The purpose of the SAT Subject Test is to demonstrate how much you've learned in high school. If you've learned enough math to take Level 2, then show it off!
Things to remember:
• Don't overlook important procedures or details
• Know what to expect on the test you are taking
• Know which test to take: Level 1 or Level 2
Copyright © 2005 by Kaplan, Inc.
Excerpted from SAT Subject Tests by Kaplan Copyright © 2005 by Kaplan. Excerpted by permission.
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