The Collegeboard recently released its updated percentile tables for SAT subject tests, and it is now even more important than it was before to get a perfect score on the Math Level 2 SAT subject test.
In 2019, 24% of students who took the Math Level 2 SAT subject test scored a perfect 800. Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in the percentage of students achieving perfect scores on the Math Level 2 exam. In 2011, for instance, only 13% of students scored a perfect 800 on this exam. Now, just 9 years later, that percentage has nearly doubled.
Why the dramatic increase in the percentage of perfect scores?
- The number of students taking the Math Level 2 exam has decreased significantly. In 2011, 176,472 students took this exam. In 2019, it was only 138,333 — so 22% fewer students took it. Let’s look at it this way: If 26 out of 200 students get a perfect score on the Math Level 2, then 13% of students scored a perfect. But, if we keep the number of perfect scorers the same but decrease the total number of test takers to 100, now 26 out of 100 students — so 26% — have a perfect score. So, even if the number of perfect scorers didn’t increase, the percentage could still increase.
- In reality, while the overall number of Math Level 2 test takers decreased, the number of perfect scores also simultaneously increased. Because those students still taking the Math Level 2 are all primarily applying to top 50 colleges (and concentrated on applying to the top 20 colleges), they are left competing only against the best students, so there is significantly more expectation and pressure. Think of sports: Only the best high school athletes compete against one another in college, and then only the best college athletes compete against one another in pro-sports. At every level, the competition and required skill to stay in the game dramatically increases. A decade ago, most students applying to a top 200 college took at least one SAT subject test. Now, with SAT subject tests becoming less expected at most top 200 colleges, generally only students applying to a top 50 college are still taking SAT subject tests, so the level of competition has dramatically increased on this exam. In 2011, 22,941 test takers scored a perfect. In 2019, that number had risen to 33,200 — a 45% increase in the number of perfect scorers. In response to higher competition, students studied harder and got more perfect scores.
Thus, while in 2011, there were 13 perfect scorers for every 100 test takers, in 2019, there were 19 perfect scorers for every 78 test takers. The 22% drop in overall number of test takers combined with the 45% increase in the number of perfect scorers has nearly doubled the percentage of Math Level 2 test takers who score a perfect. As a result, the highest achieving students need to study even harder for this exam, not to differentiate themselves, but just to stay on par with their peers applying to the highest ranked colleges.