In comparison to the SAT, SAT Subject Tests are much less known in the education system. They’re important to consider for students who want to make their application more competitive or who wish to show their academic achievement.
Each test lasts one hour and focuses on one particular subject. These tests give students an opportunity to showcase their ability within the college major they are applying for or any other academic subject they wish to highlight. These are also a great alternative to taking an AP exam in a particular subject if it is unavailable or if a student wishes to improve their performance.
Are They Required?
Most institutions do not require an applicant to report SAT Subject Test scores. However, many institutions “highly recommend” that students do so to give their application an added boost. Some colleges do require SAT Subject Test score reports. If applying to a competitive program such as engineering programs and BSMD programs, it is best to take math and science subject tests.
Be sure to check all college application requirements for your schools to see if any Subject Tests are required.
What Subjects Are Available?
Subject Tests are offered in 20 different subjects.
- Math Level 1
- Math Level 2
- Biology E/M
- U.S. History
- World History
- Spanish with Listening
- French with Listening
- Chinese with Listening
- German with Listening
- Modern Hebrew
- Japanese with Listening
- Korean with Listening
Language Exams with Listening
These subject tests contain a listening portion in the foreign language the student has chosen. Listening tests are highly recommended for students who have taken at least two years of a foreign language because it gives colleges a better idea of a student’s skill within that foreign language. However, there are also language tests available with only a reading section.
Please note that language exams with listening are only available in November. These exams include subscores for reading, listening, and usage with a range of 20-80.
How Are Subject Tests Scored?
They each have a score range of 200-800. Subject Tests penalize wrong answers, meaning they take away a fraction of a point for each wrong answer. For this reason, it is recommended to leave questions, in which a student is doubtful, empty rather than to guess.
These are the official guidelines College Board uses to score Subject Tests.
It is also important to note that Subject Tests have a substantial curve that allows students to attain a perfect score while still missing a few questions. Generally speaking, a score of 650 and above is considered competitive. According to College Board, a student’s score falls within 30 to 40 points of their true ability in account for variation among testing material.
When Is The Best Time To Take A Subject Test?
It is highly recommended to take a subject test during the spring semester of the school year in which the student took the corresponding college-level course so that the information is newly learned. In May, many students study simultaneously for final exams and SAT Subject Tests.
Where Do I Register?
*Please note that not all dates provided are available for language with listening exams.
When students register, they are asked what exams they plan to take. However, on test day, students are given a test booklet with all the subject tests available for that day. This means students do not need to take the exams stated during registration. Students can take up to three subject tests on a single test day and they can be the ones reported during registration or not.
*Please note that this does not apply to language with listening exams. For these exams, students must notify College Board ahead of time and this will be the first test taken on test day.
What Is The Best Way To Study For SAT Subject Tests?
In general, the most effective way to study for a test is by taking practice versions of that test. This will help students familiarize students with the style of question and get used to the pace in which they need to work.
Unlike the SAT, there are fewer resources for SAT Subject Tests. College Board has limited practice questions and they also outline general content that will be tested on each Subject Test in their practice section.
Practice books are available by College Board, Barron’s, Kaplan, and Princeton Review. Khan Academy has college level content review for almost all Subject Tests. Students prefer different brands of practice books depending on the subject they are testing for.
Researching information, study strategies, and challenges to look out for, on the specific subject tests you plan on taking, can make study time much more productive. Each subject test has its own challenges that should be the focus while studying. For example, the physics subject test is known for the amount of formulas it requires to be memorized and the literature subject test is known for how it tests students on their interpretation of passages.
Does My SAT Fee Waiver Apply To SAT Subject Tests?
The SAT Fee Waiver covers up to six SAT Subject Tests. However, it only allows students to sign up for two test days. This means that upon signing up for a test date to take SAT Subject Tests, three of the six tests will be counted as used regardless of whether a student actually took three tests that day.
Additionally, if a student decides to take another Subject Test on a test day, the fee waiver will apply for that Subject Test as well.
For more information visit the Student Fee Waiver Brochure.
For information on eligibility to receive an SAT Fee Waiver and their benefits, visit our post: SAT: The Main Questions.
Can I Cancel My Scores?
Ordering to cancel scores will cancel all scores from that test day and students won’t be able to see any canceled scores. Once a request has been made, it cannot be unprocessed by College Board. Here is a link to the Cancellation Form.
For the official rules, policies, and specific guidelines for each subject test, visit the College Board Student Guide.
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