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SAT Subject Tests: Improve your Level 2 Maths in 5 minutes!

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This article was written by Ross M.

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OK, set that stopwatch… And go!

Use a graphing calculator

First things first… Make sure that: a. you’re using a graphing calculator and b. you know how to use it!

This is because there are quite a lot of graph questions on the Level 2 test, and answering them is quite often simply a matter of putting the function into the calculator and reading off the answer!

Continued below

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The SAT people will allow you to use a wide range of graphing calculators. I would personally recommend the Casio 9750 (the FX-9750GII, to be precise), but as long as your calculator (or your mum’s, dad’s, or sibling’s calculator) is not too fancy, it will probably be allowed. Check this list to see if it is:

https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/taking-the-test/calculator-policy

Here are a few good videos to help you get to grips with your graphing calculator:

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Don’t get hung up on the difficult topics

A quick glance at the official subject test paper for Math Level 2 may strike a little bit of fear into your heart. You may ask yourself, Do I have to know logarithms, matrices, ellipses, etc, inside out in order to get a good score?

The short answer is no. Try not to get too distracted/intimidated by the more difficult concepts. A better approach is to put as much time as you can into learning a couple of the more basic topics – trigonometry and functions in particular.

Many of the things you need to know about these topics are just logical extensions of things you had to learn for the SAT-I (ie the math component of the ‘main’ SAT) and a good prep book (eg the Barron’s book) will tell you exactly what you need to know.

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Understand the difficulty curve of the test

In my opinion, the first half of the test is just a slightly harder version of the SAT-I. (Actually, you could even make the argument that it’s a little easier than the SAT-I, now that the maths there has gotten a bit harder…) Even if one of the questions in this half looks difficult, it probably isn’t actually all that tough. Be courageous and psyche it out!

Remember to fall back on some of the strategies you may have learned for the SAT-I – plug in, ballpark, eliminate, and above all remember to READ THE QUESTION!!

So how about the remaining 25 questions? I feel that the last ten questions can tend to be pretty hard – either they’ll be on a difficult/obscure topic (like matrices) or they will layer up simpler concepts so as to make everything that bit tougher. If you are less confident about your math skills, consider leaving these ten questions out or guessing on them.

Of course, if you do leave out/guess on all or some of the final ten questions, that gives you a bit more time to play with – which you can use on doing/checking the easier questions.

That just leaves questions 26-40. These are the ‘medium’ questions and, in my experience, it is on these that gains can be made.

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Final stages of pre-exam practice

When practising, first try to reach a stage at which you get all or almost all of the first 25 questions right. This will, on its own, give you a score in the region of 600-630.

Next, focus your attention on nailing questions 26-40. Do extra practice on the topics which come up most often on these.

Remember, you only need to get around 33-35 points for a 700. If you are losing a lot of marks through wrong guesses on harder questions (especially the final ten questions), try to cool your heels a little and proceed with more caution.

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STOP!

I hope you got something out of that whistle-stop tour! Keep an eye on this blog for further 5 minute guides.

(Image credits: startgrid on Youtube)

Contact Ross M for more information.