What Are the SAT Subject Tests?
They are a series of one-hour exams administered by Educational Testing Service (ETS). Unlike the SAT, the SAT Subject Tests are designed to measure specific knowledge in specific areas. There are many different tests in many different subject areas, such as biology, history, French, and math. They are scored separately on a 200–800 scale.
How are The SAT Subject Tests Us ed by College Admiss ions?
Because the tests are given in specific areas, colleges use them as another piece of admissions information and, often, to decide whether an applicant can be exempted from college requirements. For example, a certain score may excuse you from a basic English class or a foreign language requirement.
What’s a Good Score?
That’s hard to say, exactly. A good score is one that falls within the range of scores the college of your choice usually accepts or looks for. However, if your score falls below the normal score range for Podunk University, that doesn’t mean you won’t get into Podunk University. Schools are usually fairly flexible in what they are willing to look at as a “good” score for a certain student.
Along with your score, you will also receive a percentile rank. That number tells you how you fit in with the other test takers. In other words, a percentile rank of 60 means that 40 percent of the test takers scored above you and 60 percent scored below you.
When Are the SAT Subject Tests Offered?
In general, you can take from one to three Subject Tests per test date in October, November, December, January, May, and June at test sites across the country. Not all subjects are offered at each administration, so check the dates carefully.
How Do I Register for the Tests?
To register by mail, pick up a registration form and Student Bulletin at your guidance office. You can also register at the College Board website at www.collegeboard. com. This site contains other useful information such as the test dates and fees. If you have questions, you can talk to a representative at the College Board by calling 609-771-7600.
You may have your scores sent to you, to your school, and to four colleges of your choice. Additional score reports will be sent to additional colleges for, you guessed it, additional money. The scores take about six weeks to arrive.
Should I Take the SAT Subject Tests? How Many? When?
About one-third of the colleges that require SAT I scores also require that you take two or three SAT Subject Tests. Your first order of business is to start reading those college catalogs. College guidebooks, admissions offices, and guidance counselors should have this information as well.
As to which tests you should take, the answer is simple:
1. Take those Subject Tests that you will do well on.
2. Take the tests that the colleges you are applying to may require you to take.
The best possible situation, of course, is when the two match.
Some colleges have specific requirements, others do not. Again, start asking questions before you start taking tests. Once you find out which tests are required, if any, part of your decision making is done. The next step is to find out which of the tests will show your particular strengths and to contact colleges to see which tests they suggest or require. Evaluate your own strengths and skills. Possibilities range from English literature, U.S. or world history, biology, chemistry, and physics to a variety of foreign languages.
As for when, take tests that are as close as possible to the corresponding coursework you may be doing. If you plan to take the SAT Chemistry Test, for example, and you are currently taking chemistry in high school, don’t postpone the test until next year.