What are the SAT Subject Tests and Who Needs to Take Them?

by Vault Education Editors | July 20, 2009

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AsU.S. universities become more competitive, more are requiring additional testsother than the SAT.  All universities areaccepting the SAT and ACT interchangeably now, but some schools are adding SAT SubjectTests (formerly "SAT IIs") and a lot are “strongly suggesting”several AP exams, when applicable, to their requirements.  For some of you, the SAT Subject Tests mightbe somewhat of a foreign test, since the tests are in a different style thanthe SAT/ACT and most schools didn’t require them until now.  To clarify, the SAT Subject Test exams areknowledge-based rather than logical reasoning-based like the SAT. 

 

Thereare a variety of different subjects available for SAT Subject Tests, includingMath Level 1 & 2, Literature, U.S. History, World History, Biology,Chemistry, Physics and several languages. Most schools will require two or three, if they require them atall.  It is always a good idea to take anSAT Subject Test either immediately after completing a school course in thegiven subject (e.g., the June exam) or immediately following the summer aftercompleting the course (e.g., the October exam). For students who missed the June exam date, the October date is a greattime to finalize all of the SAT Subject Test requirements. 

 

Selecting the RightTest

 

Whendeciding which SAT Subject Tests to take, you want to choose the tests thatshowcase your academic strengths and interests. For example, if you plan to apply as a pre-med student, you might wantto take a science and a math exam.  Thatsaid, in reality, you want to take the tests on which you will score thehighest. 

 

Ingeneral, most students opt to take one Math test, but selecting the appropriatetest is important.  The Level 2 test issignificantly harder than the Level 1 and requires basic pre-calculusknowledge, whereas the Level 1 is predominantly focused on trigonometry andlinear geometry.  An important thing toremember, though, is that the scoring table on the Level 2 test is much morefavorable than the Level 1 test.  On theLevel 2, you can get two to five questions wrong and still get a perfect score,while your score on the Level 1 test drops significantly with just one wrong question. 

 

Theother Subject Tests are pretty straightforward in terms of the subject matter,but there are some nuances you should know. The World History exam tests knowledge of ancient civilizations,Chinese, and South American cultures in addition to European history, so APEuropean History students should definitely supplement their studies. 

 

Interms of the science tests, the Physics test tends to be the hardest for moststudents, and the Chemistry test is significantly harder than most generalchemistry final exams, so it’s most suited to Honors or AP Chemistrystudents.  The Biology test has twooptions: ecology or molecular biology. The molecular biology option is much easier for most students, as highschool biology courses usually spend more time on the molecular subject matterthan on the ecological.

 

Otherthan that, it’s never too early to take a SAT Subject Test.  So if you finish a trigonometry course in theninth grade, don’t be afraid to take the Math Level 1 early.  Your 11th grade self will thank you.

 

For more informationon studying for and taking the SAT Subject Tests, and on the college admissions process ingeneral, visit The Edge online at www.edgeincollegeprep.com or call us today at877-499-EDGE to inquire about our current test-prep programs.

 

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