SAT Subject Tests
Previously referred to as SAT II's, the SAT Subject Tests are more specialized subject tests. There are 20 possible tests in five subject areas: English, history, languages, math, and science.
The tests are given on the same dates as the SAT, but not all subjects are offered every test date. Because of the irregular schedule, students must plan ahead if they need to take the tests.
Why take the tests?
- Because the college you are applying to requires or recommends them.
- Because you are taking the corresponding class, know the material well, and want a potential asset for your applications.
- Because you would like to demonstrate your expertise in a particular area.
Which colleges require the tests?
A few highly selective colleges--like Brown, Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, and Wellesley--require the tests. For a complete list, see the link at right.
To look up a particular college, either look on that college's website, or use the College Board's College Search tool. Type in a school, select it, go to Applying and then to Application Requirements.
If my desired colleges aren't on the lists, then am I off the hook?
Colleges vary. Some, like Duke University and Washington & Lee, strongly recommend them. Many will consider scores if submitted. A few will accept them as alternatives to the regular SAT. See the link at right for details.
How do I know which classes at Shorewood correspond to which SAT Subject Tests?
Some have obvious correspondence--AP World History and the World History SAT Subject Test, for instance--but most are a bit more difficult to figure out. Review the Subject Areas and the particular tests in each area.
How do I decide if I have a decent chance of doing well on a particular test?
Look at an official College Board SAT Subject Test study book; there are a few in the Shorewood Career Center. Either look through a sample test (it might be a previous test) or take at least part of a practice test. See if you know the material well enough.
How do I prepare?
The best way to prepare, as the College Board says, is to learn the material in a class. You can also self-study any subtopics that will not be covered in your class. For example, if you want to take the Physics SAT Subject Test, there are topics from both AP Physics 1 and AP Physics 2 on the test. If you will have only taken AP Physics 1, you may want to look ahead and cover some subject areas on your own.
Want to know more?
The College Board has a good SAT Subject Test FAQ.
Curious about the relationship between SAT Subject Tests and AP Exams?
From the College Board:
SAT Subject Tests are high school-level tests, reflecting high school curricula. These tests indicate a student’s readiness to take college-level courses in specific subject areas. AP Exams, however, assess a student’s college-level knowledge, skills and abilities, learned in the corresponding AP courses. As a result, the topics covered on SAT Subject Tests may differ from those covered on AP Exams.
While AP Exams are also an excellent way to demonstrate understanding in specific subject areas, not all students have an opportunity to take AP courses in a range of subjects. For students who lack access to AP and still wish to demonstrate subject knowledge, the Subject Tests offer this opportunity. Also, students who are taking an AP course in senior year may not have their AP Exam score to report to colleges in time to meet admission deadlines. In this case, they could use Subject Tests scores to show their mastery in the subject.