Consider the SAT Subject Tests for This May or June to Strengthen Your College Applications

Posted on

February 20, 2018


Greg Kaplan

Entrance Exams

With Spring Break around the corner, the second half of the school year is in full swing and flying by.  Students currently enrolled in AP/IB/Advanced should consider signing up for SAT Subject Tests if there is a Subject Test that overlaps with their advanced class.  I know what you are thinking, not another test, but these ones are different and can help your child build her application theme by demonstrating mastery of core high school subjects relevant to her intended path.

What are the Subject Tests?

The Subject Tests are administered by the College Board, the same organization that offers the SAT.  These are one-hour-long multiple-choice tests that are designed to test knowledge of content from core high school classes.  A student can take up to three tests on test day, and the Subject Tests are offered at the same date and test centers as the SAT I Reasoning Test. Unlike the SAT which tests verbal and mathematical reasoning abilities, these specialized tests are offered in Literature (English), Math (testing up to precalculus), History (world and US), Science (biology, chemistry, and physics), and foreign languages (i.e. Spanish, Chinese, French, etc.). 

These tests are scored on a curve, and students currently enrolled in an AP/IB class that overlaps with the subject tend to score the highest on these.  Like the SAT I, each test is scored from 200 to 800. 

Are the Subject Tests Required?

These tests are optional for all but a few colleges and specific programs, so it is critical to understand your dream school’s policy.

For families that are feeling test-fatigued with the SAT/ACT and AP/IB testing, many students find these tests far easier to prepare for since they are multiple choice and test content, not reasoning.  There is a lot of overlap with AP tests, so students may just need to study a few concepts that were not part of their in-class AP prep. 

Which Tests Should My Child Take?

It is worth mentioning that on the Common Application, which most students use to apply to college, there is no place to input AP scores.  However, for a student wishing to demonstrate mastery of a particular subject relevant to their intended path, there is the opportunity to report SAT Subject Test Scores.  These tests are an excellent opportunity for students to build their application theme.

Your child should consider taking a Subject Test if enrolled in the most advanced class in the field that is offered.  For example, if your child is an aspiring engineer, and currently enrolled in AP Chemistry, consider taking the Chemistry Subject Test in June after the AP exam (before the knowledge goes stale).  Any student currently enrolled in precalculus or Calculus has the curriculum background to take the Math Level 2 exam as well.

Do not wait until Senior Year to take them all.  By then, your child will have forgotten concepts she learned as a sophomore or junior, making prep much more difficult. 

While an added layer of testing, take comfort knowing that these tests are easier to prepare for because they test concepts your child has learned in class.  Use them to your advantage as another easy to understand data point.  If you have specific questions about which tests to take based on your child’s intended major or class schedule, please contact us to discuss further.  

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