After The SAT. There’s More?!
You’ve taken the ACT once and the SAT three times. You’ve studied for countless hours, and, at this point, can answer reading comprehension questions in your sleep. You thought you were done. Now, to your chagrin, it’s time to take the SAT Subject Tests. Formerly known as the SAT II, the Subject Tests are indeed a follow-up to the SAT proper insofar as these tests continue to provide quantitative gages to colleges or universities. There are, however, several crucial differences between the SAT and the Subject Tests.
The SAT Subject tests are offered in 20 subjects. Unlike the SAT proper which ostensibly tests for reading, writing, and quantitative reasoning (but is, in reality, a test to see how good you are at taking the SAT), Subjects Tests test your knowledge in a specific subject, be it English, Mathematics, history, or a foreign language. Not all schools require Subject Tests, but many recommend them for several reasons. First, taking Subject Tests allows you to highlight your knowledge in a specific area. This is particularly beneficial for students who perhaps did not perform as well as they would have liked on the SAT proper, or students whose SAT scores do not reflect their high GPAs. Also, students for whom English is not a first language can also use the SAT Subject Tests to emphasize their knowledge in either their native language (if a test is offered) or in a subject that she or he is particularly adept at. Finally, many schools will allow you to use high Subject Test scores to “test out” of a university course requirement (which can allow you to save money or free up coursework for electives or concentration requirements).
Students should sit for Subject Tests in the areas they are most comfortable in. Generally, it is unnecessary to take more than three. On any given test day, students can sit for one, two, or three subject exams (all of which are one-hour in length). It is best to take the Subject Test the semester after you’ve completed the coursework in school so that the information is fresh in your mind. What this means is that you can get started on SAT Subject Tests as early as the summer after your first year of high school. As you plan your high school classes, familiarize yourself with the SAT Subject Test administration dates and begin to plan when you’ll take which exam.
The SAT Subject Tests can be particularly useful for students taking AP classes in the same field. If you plan on sitting for the AP World History exam, for example, it would make sense to take the either the May or June Subject Test. The information will still be fresh in your mind, and taking the May exam is a good opportunity to review for the AP Exam (keep in mind, however: though you may take a Subject Test and AP Exam in the same field, AP Exams tend to be more advanced and more in-depth as AP classes simulate college-level coursework).
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