Tag Archives: sat ii subject tests

Which SAT test dates should I register for in 2018?

Happy new year everyone! With the holidays behind us, it’s back to school, and for many high school juniors, that means registering for the SAT. For the first half of this year, the College Board is offering the following SAT test dates:

  • March 10, 2018
  • May 5, 2018
  • June 2, 2018

Let’s explore which test dates might be the best fit for you and your student.

SAT test dates
Choosing the right SAT test date can be difficult. Read on to learn which dates are the best for you and your student! Photo by Pixabay.

Choosing the right SAT test dates

First, we can narrow the choices a bit if you or your student is planning to take SAT II Subject Tests. Because you cannot take both the SAT and the SAT II subject tests on the same date (nor would you want to!), you should plan to take your subject tests on June 2. (If you’re curious about the subject tests, I go into more detail about them in this post.)

With June 2 devoted to subject tests, that leaves March 10 and May 5 for the regular SAT. Which date should you choose, or should you sign up for both? My personal opinion is to register for both, but to prioritize the March 10 date.

Test early and test often

Let’s face it: standardized testing involves performing under pressure, which can produce quite a bit of anxiety in students. If you put the test off until later, that pressure will only increase. Why? Because by putting the SAT off, you will have fewer chances to take it again if you don’t reach your goal score the first time.

Another reason to test earlier: you can go into the test with the knowledge that you will, in all likelihood, take this test again later. Often, just knowing that this particular test is not the only opportunity to do well can help students relax and concentrate, rather than feel stressed by the need to hit a home run.

For this reason, I advise my students to sign up for the March 10 test date. Then, I’ll recommend they take it again May 5. Why both dates? Because each test sitting involves a bit of randomness.

SAT test dates 2018
A “standardized” test like the SAT involves more randomness than you might think. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

It’s a “standardized test”; how can it be random?

There’s more to taking the test than just the test itself. For one, there’s the randomness of your personal life. Maybe you’re just coming off the flu going into the test, or you didn’t sleep well the night before, or your dog Bobo ran away. The point is, when we sign up for the test in January, we can’t predict exactly how we’ll be feeling the morning of March 10.

Then there’s the randomness of the test itself, or “the luck of the draw.” For example, perhaps the test features a reading passage written by Thomas Paine, and you’ve just studied him in your American History class. Suddenly, a wave of confidence washes over you, and you think to yourself: I’ve got this!

However, perhaps one of the reading passages is 19th-century prose about the distribution of wealth in society, and economics just isn’t your thing. Suddenly, a wave of dread washes over you, and you think to yourself: Gross! (Note: While the SAT will never require background knowledge for the reading passages, studies have shown that some prior familiarity with the subject matter tends to aid reading comprehension.)

For both of these reasons, I recommend my students take the test in both March and May, if they can. Each test sitting is a new opportunity to do well. So test early and test often—it could lead to your best possible score.

A useful add-on: The College Board Question and Answer Service (QAS)

What is the Question and Answer Service (QAS)? This is an extra service provided by the College Board that you can add to your test registration. It is not offered for every test date, but it is offered in March and May 2018. For a fee of $18, the College Board will send you a complete copy of the actual exam you take on March 10 and/or May 5, along with an answer key showing which questions you got right and wrong. If you plan on taking the test more than once, this is an excellent study tool, and one I highly recommend!

Ready to register for the SAT?

If you or your student is not yet registered, you can do so on the College Board website. If you haven’t already created an account with them, you’ll need to do so.

Finally, one last piece of advice: the earlier you sign up, the better, because popular test sites can fill up quickly. The last thing you want on the morning of the test is to have to drive over an hour to your test site, which means getting up even earlier. So be sure to avoid that fate by registering soon, if you haven’t already!

Any more questions? Feel free to comment below, or reach out to us at info@paulkingprep.com. Good luck with your test prep!


Are you ready for SAT II Subject Tests?

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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