What are SAT II Subject Tests?
Unlike the regular SAT, which tests general math and verbal ability, the SAT II Subject Tests are your chance to show off your best subject areas. The subjects offered include History (U.S. and World), English Literature, Math I and Math II (Math II covers more advanced topics than Math I, typically up through a high school pre-calculus course), as well as Sciences (Chemistry, Physics, Biology) and various foreign languages. These tests are only one hour in length, and you can take up to three in one test setting. Colleges typically recommended that you take tests across various subject areas (i.e., one History, one Math, one Science). For a complete list of all the SAT II Subject Tests, including their various test dates, click here to view the College Board’s official information.
Do colleges require SAT II Subject Tests scores?
It varies by school. Some colleges require seeing at least two to three SAT II Subject Test scores, while others simply recommend submitting the scores, as strong scores can strengthen your college application. This is especially true if you’re applying, say, as an engineering major, and you submit strong SAT II scores in Math and Science. For this reason, most schools will consider your SAT II scores if you submit them along with your application, even if they aren’t required, as they help to give a more well-rounded picture of you, your interests, and your strengths. Lastly, some schools will even accept SAT II Subject Test scores in place of a regular SAT or ACT score, although this is less common. For a complete list of colleges and their SAT II Subject Test requirements/recommendations, click here.
When should I take the SAT II Subject Tests?
While the tests are offered throughout the year on the same dates as the regular SAT, I always recommend that my students take the tests in early June, after they have completed at least one full year of the subject being tested. For example, if you plan to take the SAT II Chemistry exam, it’s best to take it after you’ve covered the bulk of the course content, as the SAT II is comprehensive. I wouldn’t recommend waiting until the fall after you’ve completed the course to take the test–we all know how much we tend to forget over the summer vacation!
Which subject tests should I take?
Pick the subjects where you feel strongest in school this year. For example, if you’ve had a great year in Biology, taking the SAT II Biology test could be a good choice. Next year, when you take precalculus (just for an example), you might consider taking the SAT II Math II exam. While you can take up to three tests in a single sitting, you certainly don’t have to, and plenty of students space these tests out over the first three years of high school. By the end of junior year though, having 2-3 Subject Test scores under your belt will help strengthen your college application.
One last note: If you’re currently enrolled in an AP course that coincides with an SAT Subject Test, you should definitely consider taking that SAT II. For example, if you’re currently taking AP U.S. History, and you’re planning on taking the AP test in May, then by all means take the SAT II U.S. History test. The reason for this is that the SAT II is generally slightly easier than the AP test, and if you’re already working hard to prepare for the AP test in May, then you’ll be in great shape to take the less rigorous SAT II in June.
How should I prepare for the SAT II Subject Tests?
The College Board offers a prep book that contains one previously administered test for every SAT II Subject Test that they offer. While one test doesn’t offer a ton of practice, it still will give you a good sense of what the test is like and what to expect.
Need help preparing for an SAT II Subject Test? I can definitely help you! Contact me today for a free consultation.
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