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Math Level 2: The Surprising Importance of a Perfect Score

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Striving for excellence, and ideally achieving it, in areas of life that matter (family, work, etc) is important.  In contrast, attaining perfection is typically neither necessary nor practical.  The same is true on standardized tests.  For example, the difference between a 790 and 800 on the Literature SAT subject test is minuscule and inconsequential.  A 790 on the Literature SAT subject test puts students in the 98th percentile of test takers, and an 800 puts students in the 99th percentile.  If a student were to score a 790 on the Literature SAT subject test, I would never advise that they re-take the test; their time would be better spent doing almost anything else.

The Math Level 2 SAT subject test, however, is a different and almost unique standardized test in its percentiles.  In 2019, 24% of test takers scored a perfect 800 on this exam.  Students need a perfect score just to match, not even beat, a quarter of other test takers.  And, the difference between a 790 on the Math Level 2 and an 800 is massive.  When students score 800’s, colleges cannot differentiate those in the 99th percentile from those in the 76th percentile: they all have the same score and are viewed equally.  But, if a student scores a 790 or below, then colleges are aware that the student is not in the relatively large population of the top 24% of test takers.

Most students do not need a perfect score on the Math Level 2 (or even to take any SAT subject tests), depending on the caliber of school and the major to which they are applying.  However, students applying to top colleges or to be Engineering, Physics, or Math majors should be aware that, if ever there was a time to strive for and attain perfection, that time is on the Math Level 2.

Struggling a lot with timing on the SAT, SAT subject tests, or ACT? Check out our post about Extended time on the SAT and ACT.

Math Level 2 SAT Subject Test Percentiles

Math Level 2 SAT Subject Test Percentiles
Score Percentile
800 76
790 71
780 66
770 62
760 59
750 55
740 52
730 50
720 46
710 44
700 41
690 38
680 36
670 33
660 30
650 27
640 25
630 22
620 20
610 18
600 15
590 13
580 12
570 10
560 8
550 7
540 6
530 5
520 4
510 4
500 3
490 2
480 2
470 1
460 1
450 1
440 1
430 0
420 0
410 0
400 0
390 0
380 0
370 0
360 0
350 0
340 0
330 0
320 0
310 0
300 0
290 0
280 0
270 0
260 0
250 0
240 0
230 0
220 0
210 0
200 0

Source:

SAT Subject Test Percentiles – 2020

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