In the hustle and bustle of school and life, it can be easy for juniors to overlook an important aspect of the college application process: SAT Subject Tests. Many colleges require or recommend that students submit SAT Subject Test scores as part of the application process. Whether colleges use the scores for admission or placement purposes, solid SAT Subject Test scores can strengthen your child’s application and showcase his or her abilities and interests. Which Subject Tests should your child take, and when should he or she take them? Read on for information and tips that will help you answer these questions.
What are the SAT Subject Tests?
The SAT Subject Tests are content-based exams that test a student’s knowledge and abilities in specific subject areas. These multiple-choice tests, which are administered by the College Board, are each one hour in length.
Which SAT Subject Tests are offered?
The College Board offers twenty different Subject Tests in five subject areas—mathematics, science, English, history, and foreign languages.
|Math Level 1||Biology E/M|
|Math Level 2||Chemistry|
|Chinese with Listening||Italian|
|French||Japanese with Listening|
|French with Listening||Korean with Listening|
|German with Listening||Spanish|
|Modern Hebrew||Spanish with Listening|
For information about the format and content of each Subject Test, read the College Board’s Getting Ready for the SAT Subject Tests document.
Which SAT Subject Tests should my child take?
Determining which Subject Tests your child should take may seem a bit confusing at first. Below we’ve provided some tips and information that will help you and your child make this decision.
Find out if the colleges your child is interested in require or recommend certain Subject Tests.
Some colleges, especially those that specialize in certain areas of study, require that students submit specific Subject Test scores. For example, MIT requires that students submit two Subject Test scores, one in math and one in science. Other colleges, such as Boston College, allow students to select which Subject Test scores they would like to submit. Before registering for the Subject Tests, your child should review his or her college list and determine the testing requirements for each institution. Doing so will help to ensure that your child knows which specific Subject Tests, if any, are required or recommended. Visit the College Board website for a list of the colleges that require or recommend SAT Subject Tests or access information on a specific school’s admissions policies at StudyPoint’s College Admissions Profiles.
Your child should take the Subject Tests that will highlight his or her academic strengths and interests.
If your child has the flexibility to choose which Subject Tests he or she would like to take, then he or she should take those tests that will best demonstrate his or her academic abilities and interests. Is your child a history buff? If so, then taking the U.S. or World History test would be a wise choice. Does your child plan to study a foreign language while in college? If the answer is yes, then taking one of the language exams would be a great way to showcase his or her language abilities and to demonstrate that particular interest. Keep in mind that some colleges use Subject Test scores for course placement purposes, so taking tests in subject areas that your child anticipates studying in college could serve him or her well in the long run.
Taking practice tests is a great way for your child to determine which tests will highlight his or her academic strengths. The College Board publishes a book called The Official Study Guide for all SAT Subject Tests, which contains one official, full-length practice test for all twenty tests the College Board offers. It may be in your child’s best interest to take several of these practice tests to help determine which tests are right for him or her.
The schools on my child’s college list don’t require Subject Tests, so he or she doesn’t have to take them, right?
If the schools on your child’s list don’t require Subject Tests, then he or she doesn’t have to take them. But taking the tests might still be a wise decision. Why? Though some colleges do not require Subject Tests, many colleges do recommend them. And some colleges that don’t require or recommend Subject Tests will still consider Subject Test scores during the admissions process. Submitting Subject Test scores can be a good way for your child to differentiate his or her application from those of other applicants.
My child is taking the ACT, so he or she doesn’t have to take the Subject Tests, right?
Maybe. Testing requirements and recommendations vary from college to college. Some colleges require that students submit only SAT or ACT scores. Other colleges allow students to submit ACT scores in lieu of SAT and SAT Subject Test scores. As previously mentioned, your child should review his or her college list and determine the testing requirements for each school. Once your child has done so, he’ll have a better sense of whether or not taking both the ACT and the Subject Tests is necessary. That being said, we encourage you and your child to consider all the options, including the SAT and SAT Subject Tests. Ultimately, your child should take the tests that cater to his or her strengths and fulfill the testing requirements for the colleges on his or her college list.
What are “good” SAT Subject Test scores?
“Good” is a relative term. It all depends on the student and the college. What is considered a “good” SAT subject test score for one student or college could be a “great” or “average” score for another student or college. We suggest that you review the College Board’s list of average SAT Subject Test scores for 2011 college-bound seniors. Generally, your child should aim to score at or above the average score for the particular tests he or she plans to take. Remember that the tests are scored on a scale of 200 to 800, with 800 being the highest possible score. You can learn more about SAT Subject Test scoring and SAT scoring at StudyPoint’s SAT Info Center.
Keep in mind that students can take individual Subject Tests more than once, and because the College Board’s Score Choice policy applies to the SAT Subject Tests, your child will be able to select (in accordance with a college’s score-use policy) the SAT Subject Test scores he or she would like to send to colleges. Visit the College Board website to learn more about score reporting and Score Choice.
When are the SAT Subject Tests offered, and when should my child take them?
Most of the SAT Subject Tests are offered six times a year, in January, May, June, October, November, and December, on the same dates when the SAT is offered (note that Subject Tests are not offered on the March/April SAT test date). However, some Subject Tests, such as the World History and the Language with Listening tests, are only offered on specific tests dates, so you should check the College Board website for specifics regarding availability.
The best time for students to take the Subject Tests is right after they have studied the relevant material in their courses because the concepts and skills will be fresh in their minds. Therefore, for most students, the May and June test dates are the best opportunities to achieve high SAT Subject test scores. Students can take up to three SAT Subject Tests per test date; they cannot, however, take the SAT and the SAT Subject Tests on the same test date. For guidance regarding when your child should take the SAT and the SAT Subject Tests, consult StudyPoint’s Recommended SAT Testing Timeline.
How can my child register for the SAT Subject Tests?
The registration process, including registration deadlines, is the same for the SAT Subject Tests as it is for the SAT. Your child can register online or by mail for up to three Subject Tests per test date. If after registering your child decides that he or she would like to change the Subject Tests he or she will take, your child can do that at the test center on test day, free of charge. The only exceptions are the Language with Listening tests; students cannot substitute a Listening test for another Subject Test on test day.
How can my child prepare for the SAT Subject Tests?
Taking the necessary courses and working hard in those classes is the best way for your child to prepare for the SAT Subject Tests. However, as with any test, it’s always a good idea for students to do some additional preparation before test day. For those students who prefer to go the self-study route, the College Board offers some basic preparation materials, including Getting Ready for the SAT Subject Tests and The Official Study Guide for all SAT Subject Tests. For those students who would like more focused practice, StudyPoint offers one-on-one, in-home tutoring programs for the SAT Subject Tests. For information about StudyPoint’s SAT Subject Test program options, please contact our Enrollment Team at 1-87STUDYPOINT (1-877-883-9764).
We hope this information will be helpful to you and your child as you navigate the testing process! However, if you have questions about the SAT Subject Tests, please feel free to reach out to a member of our team at 1-87STUDYPOINT (1-877-883-9764). We’re happy to answer your questions and to help you determine which Subject Tests are the best fit for your child!
StudyPoint is a national leader in one-to-one, in-home test prep and academic tutoring. The test-taking techniques and strategies taught in our SAT tutoring and ACT tutoring programs enable students to earn higher test scores and gain admissions to competitive colleges and universities. Our expert subject tutors and personalized lesson plans help students earn better grades and become happier, more confident students. Whether you’re looking for a math tutor or any other type of academic tutoring, StudyPoint can help. To learn about tutoring programs in your area, feel free to contact us for more information.