SAT II Subject Test FAQ
Q: What is an SAT II Subject Test, and why is it important?
SAT II Subject Tests are college admissions exams on specific school subjects. SAT IIs are the only national admission exams that allow you to choose how to best showcase your strengths. There are 20 SAT II Subject Tests in five general subject areas: English, History, World Languages, Mathematics, and Science.
Many colleges and universities frequently change their policies on SAT II Subject Tests. While not all schools require them during the admissions process, most suggest, recommend, or accept them. Students may choose to take Subject Tests to demonstrate their knowledge and academic interests. (High SAT II scores are a great way to stand out from other applicants!)
Remember to check your chosen schools’ admission websites for more information on their test options.
Q: What is the role of SAT II Subject Tests in college admissions?
As mentioned in Question #1, Subject Tests give admissions committees insight into your academic abilities outside of the typical English and Math standardized evaluations. High scores on Subject Tests indicate your understanding of (and potential passion for) a particular academic niche. Honors and/or Advanced Placement students are great candidates for strong Subject Test performance. (i.e. If you’re a star student in your AP Spanish class, consider taking the Spanish Language with Listening exam!)
Q: How do I choose which Subject Tests to take?
Most popular colleges and universities require (or recommend) two different SAT IIs. Some colleges require only one, while others do not address Subject Tests at all in their application guidelines.
Some common SAT II guidelines from colleges include:
- A combination of any two Subject Tests
- Any two Subject Tests + 1 Math Subject Test
Even if the schools you are applying to do not require SAT IIs, it is still a good idea to send high scores to boost your application.
When choosing your two SAT II Subject Tests, consider the following:
- Your strengths in the school classroom
- Your potential major/career path
When researching Subject Tests, choose one in a topic you know you are good at—this will ease some of your test training stress. You may even enjoy brushing up on your skills in your favorite subject! BONUS: Taking a Subject Test related to your future major also shows colleges that you are dedicated to your studies.
For example, if you plan to enroll in a Science major as a Pre-Med student, Biology, Chemistry, or Math Subject Tests might be the right choice. On the other hand, if you are a strong reader with an interest in Liberal Arts or Humanities programs, Literature or History could be for you.
Q: Can I take SAT II Subject Tests before I have made my college list? What if the schools I have selected do not require them?
Yes, you can take your Subject Tests before finalizing your college list! In fact, we recommended that you complete SAT IIs earlier in your high school career. Taking the test(s) in 10th grade, for example, will give you more time to prep for the SAT or ACT later.
Choose Subject Tests to showcase your skills and passion for a specific topic without worrying about your initial college list. Since most schools accept optional SAT II scores anyway, submitting high scores will only help you when applying to college.
Q: Will SAT II Subject Test Prep interfere with my AP Exams in May?
Preparing for multiple tests at once may seem scary, but it is actually an effective method of test training! Just like SAT IIs, AP Exams also demonstrate your academic interests and advanced skills. MEK Review offers AP / SAT II Subject Test Dual Prep to help proactive students complete both tests in the same year. We currently offer Dual Prep options in History, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology for Spring 2018.
Preparing for SAT IIs and AP Exams at the same time will help you stay on track for both tests, study your topics in detail, and keep concepts fresh in your mind.
Q: What is the difference between an SAT II and an AP Exam?
Even though both tests are designed to showcase your advanced skills, they do have some differences.
- SAT IIs do not impact high school grades. AP classes affect students’ GPAs, because they are weighted higher than regular classes.
- Anyone can take an SAT II on any of the official test dates listed by College Board. Only AP students take mandatory AP exams in May.
- SAT IIs are a (required or highly recommended) part of the college admissions process. AP classes are optional for students looking for a challenge during their Junior or Senior years in high school.
- SAT IIs do not grant college credit. Students who earn a 4 or higher on their AP exams may receive college credit depending on their chosen school’s admission policies.
- SAT IIs feature more content (AP exams include fewer but more advanced concepts).
However, approximately 60-80% of the contents in comparable subjects are the same on both tests, which makes Dual Prep your best test training method.
Q: What is considered a good score on an SAT II Subject Test?
The ultimate goal for all SAT II Subject Test-takers is to score as high as possible. 800 is a perfect score, so you should strive to get as close to that number as you can. 750 and up demonstrates excellence in your chosen subject. On the other hand, a score below 650 shows weakness in terms of content mastery, and this could take away from the overall strength of your college admissions portfolio. Careful preparation is the surest way to obtain a high score.
Q: Can I take Subject Tests twice and choose which score(s) to send to my college list?
Most colleges automatically consider your highest score even when all of your scores have been reported. In addition, College Board’s Score Choice will allow you to choose which scores to send if you have time to take an SAT II more than once. However, we recommend that you study hard, prep well, and do as best as you can to earn a high score the first time!
Q: When should I take my Subject Tests?
Popular Sat II official test dates occur in May and June, right after AP Exams are finished. However, it is more important to focus on your personalized test training plan and your goal score when selecting a date.
Students may take up to three Subject Tests on an official exam date. We suggest you take one or two on each exam date to prevent careless mistakes and exhaustion. You are given the option to choose your test order when you take multiple exams on the same day.
Q: How is an SAT II Subject Test different from the SAT I or ACT?
The SAT I and ACT cover multiple subject areas and focus on reasoning skills. These tests go beyond content mastery to evaluate a student’s thinking processes. Covering the basics and studying content is not enough for success on the SAT I and/or ACT. Students must highly focus on test-taking, application, critical thinking, and reasoning skills to earn high scores. An A+ student in the classroom can perform poorly on the SAT I or ACT because of his/her lack of reasoning experience.
(Click here to learn more about SAT/ACT Prep.)
An SAT II Subject Test covers one specific subject and focuses on content mastery. As long as the student studies the test content and has a good understanding of the subject’s foundational material, he or she can score around a 650. The development of efficient test-taking and application skills is what takes a student into the 700-800 range.
Q: Can I get special accommodations when taking an SAT II Subject Test?
Yes, you may receive special accommodations. Please set up a meeting with your school guidance counselor for details!
Q: What kind of SAT II Prep programs does MEK offer?
MEK has offered Math IIc, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology SAT II Prep since 1997. We have recently added History and Literature Prep as well. Please click here for more information.