SAT Subject Tests—also known as the SAT IIs—shouldn’t be a source of anxiety for college-bound high school students. The Subject Tests are actually an opportunity to show off what you know, highlight your skills and strengths, and potentially compensate for any gaps or low marks on your transcript. At Sandweiss Test Prep, we want to encourage students to think of their SAT Subject Tests as an opportunity, and not an obstacle.
What are They?
The SAT Subject Tests are one-hour multiple-choice exams in the subject areas of Literature, U.S. History, World History, Math, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, and Foreign Language. These tests are supplemental to the regular SAT and are meant to demonstrate your strength in a particular area. Selective schools—especially selective private schools—often either require, recommend, or consider Subject Tests, usually requesting two tests, at least one of which would be in your intended field of study. For students hoping to major in math or any of the sciences, many schools will require the results of a relevant math or science SAT Subject Test.
Who Needs Them?
You can find a list of the schools that require, recommend, or consider SAT Subject Tests online. Note that some schools will also accept the ACT in lieu of the SAT and two Subject Tests
If you are considering applying to one of the schools on this list, be aware that schools that “recommend” Subject Tests usually expect and desire them, and one should definitely submit SAT Subject Tests if you want your application to be competitive. You can also submit Subject Tests to schools that “consider” them if you’d like to show off a particular strength, or if your grades were low for some reason in a subject you actually understand quite well you can take a Subject Test to demonstrate your comprehension. With the possible exception of a required Math Subject Test for competitive STEM programs, a Subject Test can only help your application and will rarely hurt it.
When Should I Take Them?
SAT Subject Tests should be taken by high school juniors in May or June, or by seniors in October or November. Since the tests align with AP coursework and AP tests, we recommend taking the Subject Tests after the matching AP test has been, or is almost, completed. You can take up to three Subject Tests on the same date, although we have found that it is more effective to do no more than two at a time to keep your mind as fresh and limber as possible.
How Can I Prepare?
If you’re applying to schools that recommend or require Subject Tests, or if you’d like to strengthen your application by demonstrating a good knowledge in an area of study, we recommend coming in and taking our diagnostic tests to help determine which Subject Tests may work best with your application, and whether or not supplemental tutoring may be warranted. For example, we will take a look at 2-4 sets of diagnostic scores and recommend which tests may be most worthwhile for achieving the highest percentile score, as well as how much, if any, tutoring may be beneficial.