Preparing for College

Is Math 1 Subject Test Acceptable at Certain Competitive Colleges?

Question: Will colleges like BC, Northwestern, Columbia, USC accept the Math 1C for a Subject Test or do they want to see the Math 2C?

Cal Tech and Harvey Mudd are the only colleges I know of off the top of my head that require Math 2. Columbia definitely does not … including for engineering. Even MIT says that either Math 1 or 2 is fine. However, I can't possibly stay current on every college's requirements nor on the requirements of special programs within a university. So applicants really need to read Web sites carefully themselves because policies can change. I don't want to get a student in hot water by giving the wrong advice!

If, however, you are really asking, "Will doing the Level 1 math instead of Level 2 hurt an applicant at a highly selective college?," then the answer is, "No, not at all." But ... if the student is applying for an engineering major or for any program in the sciences, it could hurt if the student has submitted only a Math 1 score and no scores in the sciences, too … especially chem and physics for engineering.

Of course, for many students who are wary of their math skills, it is not necessary to submit any math Subject Test where Subject Tests are required. Unless the student is intending to major a field that clearly will require math skills, then most colleges don’t care at all if math is on the list of tests submitted. In general, I try to encourage students to submit scores from diverse tests … e.g., Biology and World History rather than U.S. History and World History … but even this advice can change from student to student, depending on individual circumstances and goals.

I’ll post this on the CC Web site. Maybe some of our members will weigh in if they know of colleges or specific programs that require Math 2. There are probably some others out there, but I don’t think this list includes any of the places you named.

(posted 12/16/2011)