The majority of colleges and universities that require their applicants to submit SAT Subject Test scores are highly selective, and most will want to see SAT Math Subject Test scores of 700 or higher. While some schools will admit students with lower scores, the top science and engineering universities such as MIT and Caltech look for scores well over 700.
SAT Math Subject Test Statistics
A total of 139,163 students from the 2017-2019 graduating classes took the Math Level 1 exam and 426,033 students took the Math Level 2 exam. The mean score for the Math Level 1 exam was 610 and the mean score on Math Level 2 was 698.
Subject test scores tend to be higher than general SAT scores-the average general math score of 2018 graduates was 531. The reason for this is that the SAT Subject Tests are optional and usually only taken by high-performing students applying to competitive colleges. Overall scores are a more accurate representation of all who take the SAT while Subject Test scores assess students whose academic performance is regularly above national averages.
The table below shows the approximate percentile rankings of SAT Math Subject Test scores. Scores between the two math tests vary considerably because the Math 2 Test covers more sophisticated material. Students who have taken advanced mathematics courses through high school are usually the highest performers and take the Math 2 Test as it is the most appropriate for their skill level. In other words, the students who are strongest in math take the Math 2 Test.
|Math Subject Test Percentile Rankings|
|Percentile||Math Level 1 Score||Math Level 2 Score|
What Colleges Say About the Math SAT Subject Test
Most universities do not make their SAT Subject Test admissions data available to the public for a number of reasons, but you can still get a general sense of what they're looking for by comparing averages and scores from the past. Elite colleges often require Math Subject Test scores in the 700s and prefer that applicants take Test 2 rather than Test 1.
The following list gives the Math Subject Test score averages for some of the nation's best schools.
- MIT: Students in the 50th percentile scored between 790 and 800 on the Math Subject Tests. The scores of students at other elite engineering schools look much the same.
- Liberal Arts Colleges: Scores are well above average but slightly lower than those of MIT. Middlebury College has stated that they are accustomed to seeing scores in the low to middle 700s and about two-thirds of students admitted to Williams College scored 700 or higher.
- Ivy League: At Princeton University, the middle 50 percent of applicants scored between 710 and 790 on their three highest SAT Subject Tests. Other Ivy League schools are similar.
- UCLA: Scores for the middle 50 usually fall within 640 and 740 in Math.
The most selective colleges might consider a score below 700 on either Math Subject Test to be too low. The majority of successful applicants to these colleges as of 2019 received mid-to-high 700s on their Math Subject Tests. However, these schools have holistic admissions processes that look for academically well-rounded individuals, not just those that performed in the top percentiles of Subject Tests. They will analyze your performance outside of the SAT, so less than ideal scores in one area will probably not ruin your chances of getting in.
SAT Subject Test Scores for College Credit
Colleges are more likely to assign credit for the AP Calculus AB exam or AP Calculus BC exam than for the SAT Math Subject Test, but that doesn't mean that it isn't possible to cash your SAT Subject Test score in for credit.
Some colleges grant course credit for the SAT Math Subject Test and may even use your score in place of a math placement exam to determine your mathematics trajectory at their school. Research the policies of your desired college to find out whether you qualify for either type of consideration. In general, though, colleges request Subject Test scores to provide them with data about an applicant's college preparedness, not to determine whether students should bypass introductory courses.