SAT Subject Tests™ are an excellent way for your student to distinguish him or herself from the pack during the college application process, and could also be a required step for some colleges. Best taken at the end of an AP® or IB® course in May or June, these tests allow a student to showcase his or her academic strengths. Some colleges require these tests as part of the application process, while others may recommend or consider them. Some colleges do not need them at all. In every case, however, SAT Subject Tests™ provide another way for students to add depth to their admissions profile.
What Are SAT Subject Tests™?
SAT Subject Tests™ are hour-long, multiple-choice, standardized tests which, as the name implies, assess a student’s knowledge in a specific subject.
There are currently 20 different SAT Subject Tests™, 12 of which are foreign language exams. Depending on the college, the tests can be used for admission, course placement, and advising. Each SAT Subject Test™ is scored on a 200-800 scale. Students should aim to score at least 700, which makes selecting the strongest subjects even more important.
SAT Subject Tests™ are available in the following areas:
- U.S. History
- World History
- Biology (Ecological or Molecular)
- Math (only take one, with Level 2 preferred)
◦ Level 1 (Algebra II-based)
◦ Level 2 (Pre-calculus-based)
- Language – Reading (for AP® level students after 4 years)
◦ Latin (can be taken after 3 years)
◦ Modern Hebrew
- Language – Listening (for fluent students; Test is offered in November only)
Who Needs SAT Subject Tests™?
The more selective the college, the more likely it requires SAT Subject Tests™ as part of the application process. It is best to carefully review the application requirements for each college to which your student is applying. Some schools will dictate not only how many exams to submit, but also which subjects, as specific programs may wish to evaluate student abilities in key content areas. If the school to which your student is applying doesn’t specify which subjects to submit, we recommend selecting the subjects in which your student performs best.
Students typically choose which tests to take based on the college entrance requirements for the schools to which they plan to apply. Some colleges specify which SAT Subject Tests™ they require for admission or placement; others allow applicants to choose which tests to take. If your student is applying to a selective college, he or she will probably submit scores from at least two SAT Subject Tests™.
If the school your student is applying to does not mention SAT Subject Tests™, consider submitting them anyway. This is particularly true if your student is strong in a subject that is otherwise not reflected on his or her standardized test scores. A high score on an SAT Subject Test™ can be an excellent way to strengthen a student’s college application.
When Should SAT Subject Tests™ Be Taken?
Although the subjects offered on each test date vary, SAT Subject Tests™ are administered on each regularly scheduled SAT® test date, except for the March administration.
The best time to take an SAT Subject Test™ is directly after finishing the course relevant to the exam. These tests are designed to show your student’s knowledge of the high school curriculum, which means that they are best taken in May or June at the end of an AP® or IB® course. Be careful to avoid taking tests indiscriminately, as quality is much more important than quantity.
Students may take up to three SAT Subject Tests™ per test date. On test day, students are allowed to change the number of tests or subjects they will take, except for in the case of Language with Listening tests. Students are charged for any additional subjects that they choose to take. Students can not take the SAT® test and SAT Subject Tests™ on the same day. Students should plan ahead and save test dates specifically for SAT Subject Tests™ if they will be needed for college admissions.
SAT Subject Tests™ should not be thought of solely as more exams to take. Instead, think of them as tools that your student can use to showcase his or her strengths when applying to college. Pay attention to college application requirements, and select the SAT Subject Tests™ your student will take based on college recommendations and his or her strengths. Contact KD College Prep to help your student with his or her specific test prep needs.