SAT 2 Math- Worry not! What UK students really need to know.

With more and more UK students deciding to cast their net wider and apply for US colleges we find an increase in the number of students needing to find a way to prepare for the Collegeboard SATs. The specific specification of the exam can be found on the Collegeboard’s website.

In this blog, I will approach the issue of students hoping to gain a place at a college for a scientific or mathematical based course which requires a SAT 2 in Mathematics for acceptance. There are 2 variants on the SAT 2 Mathematics subject test: Level 1 and Level 2. Most Science or Maths based courses would expect a SAT 2 at Level 2 and I would also recommend this for any UK based student – as it will play better to your strengths having been through the UK Maths system. The Mathematics Level 2 Subject Test covers the same material as the Mathematics Level 1 test — with the addition of trigonometry and elementary functions.

It is possible to achieve a very good grade in the Mathematics Subject Test Level 2 if you have only studied up to GCSE or IGCSE Mathematics – but I would highly recommend a student interested in going down this route should be studying AS Mathematics at school already. If a student is in the midst of her/his AS studies in mathematics – preparing for the SAT 2 level 2 should be fairly straight forward.

One of the major differences between the SAT subject test and that which an UK student would have studied would be terminology: I would strongly advise preparing a sheet with comparisons of the different terminologies used and become comfortable with each term difference.

Assuming that you are in the middle of your AS studies in Maths here are the topics which you would likely encounter in the SAT subject test that you might not have already studied or might be treated in a slightly different way:

– Direct/Indirect Proportion (usage: currency conversion / no of hours to complete a job / cogs and turns of wheels)


– Imaginary Numbers

– Absolute Value Problems

– Line and angle terminology

– Pythagorean Triples

– Terminology for trig functions [ tan-1(x) is the same as arctan(x) ]

– cosecant/secant/cotangent

– Simple Matrices and Determinants

– Simple Vectors (i, j notation) and unit vectors

– Polar and Cartesian Coordinates – changing from one to the other

– Arithmetic and Geometric Series

– Equations of Circles, Ellipses and Hyperbolas

– Solid Geometry

– Distance between points in 3D

– Logarithms

– Cosine and Sine Rule (Would have covered this at GCSE) *sine rule can give obtuse and acute solution.

– Graphing trigonometric functions, exponentials and log(x)

– Graphing polynomials

– Transformations of functions and terminology of functions

– Limits

– Probability: Combinations and Permutations


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