The SAT Subject Tests

The SAT Subject Tests at a Glance

SAT Subject Tests include more than 20 different tests focusing on specific disciplines, such as English, history and the social sciences, mathematics, physical sciences, and foreign languages. Each subject test lasts 1 hour and consists entirely of multiple-choice questions.

The SAT is largely a test of verbal and math skills. Although you need to know vocabulary and a few formulas, it's primarily designed to measure how well you read and think, rather than what you know.  The SAT Subject Tests, however, are different. These tests are designed to measure what you know about specific subjects. Sure, critical reading and thinking skills play a part; but the main purpose of the Subject Tests is to determine exactly what you  know about math, history, chemistry, and so on.

How Are They Used?

Schools that require SATs feel that they're an important indicator of your ability to succeed in college. Specifically, they use your scores to help make admissions and placement decisions. Like the SAT, the SAT Subject Tests provide schools with a standard measure of academic performance, which they use to compare you to applicants from different high schools and different educational backgrounds. This information helps them to decide whether you have the academic ability to handle their curriculum.

Your scores may also be used to decide what course of study is appropriate for you once you've been admitted. A low score on the Math Level I test, for example, may require you to take a remedial Math course. Conversely, a high score on the Chemistry test may exempt you from an introductory science course.

Which Tests Should You Take?

The simple answer: Take the ones that you'll do well on. High scores, after all, can only help your chances for admission. Unfortunately, many colleges demand that you take particular tests, usually one of the math tests. Some schools give you a choice in the matter, especially if they want you to take 3 subject tests. Before you register for any test, check with the colleges in which you're interested to determine which they require.

Choices...Choices...Choices

English History Mathematics Science Languages
Literature U.S. History Mathematics Level 1 Biology E/M Chinese with Listening
World History Mathematics Level 2 Chemistry French
      Physics French with Listening
        German
        German with Listening
        Spanish
        Spanish with Listening
        Modern Hebrew
        Italian
        Latin

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