As the parent of a high school student, you’re likely starting to think about ways to help your child prepare for the college admissions process. One of the best things you can do to assist your child in this process is to educate yourself about standardized tests. Learning about the SAT Subject Tests, and considering whether your child should take these tests during freshman, sophomore, and/or junior year, is a great place to start!
What are the SAT Subject Tests?
The SAT Subject Tests are content-based exams that measure 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. Students take the Subject Tests as part of the college application process. Depending on the school, colleges may use the test scores for admission or placement purposes.
Students earn one point for each correct answer, lose a fraction of a point for each incorrect answer, and neither lose nor gain points for omitted questions. A student’s raw score, which is based on the number of points earned and lost, is converted to a scaled score that ranges between 200 and 800, with 800 being the highest possible score. For more information about how the SAT Subject Tests are scored, visit the Scores section of the College Board website.
Most of the SAT Subject Tests are offered six times a year, in January, May, June, October, November, and December, on the dates when the SAT is offered. However, there are some exceptions, so you should check the College Board website for details regarding availability. Students can take up to three Subject Tests on a single test date.
Which SAT Subject Tests are available?
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|
To learn more about the format and content of each Subject Test, read the College Board’s Getting Ready for the SAT Subject Tests document.
When should my child take the SAT Subject Tests?
For a number of reasons, it may benefit your child to take one or more SAT Subject Tests at the end of sophomore year. Here are two questions to consider when making this decision:
If the answer is yes, StudyPoint suggests that your child take the Subject Tests for those subjects. 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.
There are, however, a few exceptions. Because 3-4 years of study are recommended before students take the literature, mathematics, or foreign language Subject Tests, we suggest that students wait until their junior or senior year to take these Subject Tests. Keep in mind that 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 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.
How is your child performing in these courses?
If your child is performing well in his or her courses for which Subject Tests are offered, that’s all the more reason to consider taking those Subject Tests at the end of sophomore year. The Subject Tests serve as opportunities for students to highlight their skills, abilities, and interests in specific academic areas. Performing well on the Subject Tests can strengthen a student’s application and differentiate him or her from other applicants. Additionally, if your child takes one or more Subject Tests during sophomore year, then he or she will have fewer standardized tests to take during junior and senior year, which will help to alleviate some of the stress and pressure associated with the last two years of high school. If your child is struggling in one or more of these courses, however, it is probably in his or her best interest not to take that particular Subject Test.
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.