ACT Math and SAT Subject Test Math 1


You don’t often see the words “good news” and “standardized tests” in the same sentence. But for those of you taking the June 5 SAT Subject Test in Math 1 and/or the June 12 ACT, and for those of you on the fence about one or the other, here’s something to consider: The Math Test material on the ACT is virtually identical to that of the Level 1 Subject Test. That means, by studying for one test, you are simultaneously studying for the other.

You would think the CollegeBoard’s Math 1 Subject Test would more closely resemble its own college entrance exam math section than that of the ACT, but since when has anything about standardized testing been reasonable?  A quick look at the comparison chart above shows the ACT Math Test and the SAT Math 1 Subject Test are virtually identical. Both are 60 minutes; both feature ONLY multiple-choice questions (there are NO grid-ins on either exam).  Of course, the scales differ (200-800 on the SAT and 1-36 on the ACT) and the test-taking strategies differ—since there’s a 1/4-point wrong-answer penalty on the SAT version that the ACT version doesn’t have—but in terms of mathematical material covered, they’re the same test.

Specifically, while the college entrance exam SAT math section does NOT cover complex numbers (i), quadratic inequalities, equations of circles, radians, basic trig functions (SOHCAHTOA) and laws, and converting between logarithmic and exponential equations, all these topics are covered on BOTH the Math 1 Subject Test AND the ACT Math Test.

What does this mean for you, the exam-weary junior gutting out the end of a year of relentless academic torture?  It means you can kill two standardized testing birds with a single studying stone.  Practice test and review of either test prepares you for the other! Admit it, you needed a little good news today. You earned it.


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