What is SAT II (Subject Tests)?
SAT II are the 20 multiple-choice standardized tests given by the College Board on individual subjects.
Do I need to take SAT II?
Not all universities require SAT II tests scores. However, for other schools, taking a few SAT II tests may improve your credentials for admission. Depending on the program or major you plan to apply for, you might be required to take the SAT II tests for specific subjects. Reference the schools’ websites for more information, or get into contact with current students.
How many SAT Subject Tests should I take?
It depends on the college. Check the admission requirements of the schools you are considering. Generally, taking three subject tests is enough.
What subjects are there?
- Math Level 1
- Math Level 2
- Biology E/M （Ecological or Molecular）
- U.S. History
- World History
- Spanish with Listening
- French with Listening
- Chinese with Listening
- German with Listening
- Modern Hebrew
- Japanese with Listening
- Korean with Listening
How are these tests administered?
- Each Subject Test is an hour long. They are all multiple-choice and scored on a 200-800 scale.
- They are generally given six times in any given school year, on the same days and in the same test centers as the SAT - but not all 20 tests are offered on every SAT date.
- You can take up to three Subject Tests on any test date.
Can you take the SAT and an SAT Subject Test on the same day?
What Subject Test should I take?
It depends. Consider:
- Different schools have different requirements. For example, CalTech requires Math 2 and one science test of your choice. New York University requires 3 Subject Tests (or AP or IB scores): one math or science, one lit or humanities, one elective.
- You should take the subject tests most related to your major. If you'd like to study engineering, then taking the subject tests for Math and Physics would demonstrate your knowledge in those areas; if you’d like to study history, then U.S. History or World History would be good choices.
- You should take the subjects you are most confident in. Also, if you are taking a certain subject in school this year, don't wait until the next year to test-- test while the knowledge is still fresh in your mind.
Should I take Math Level 1 or 2?
If you believe you can score well on Math 2, take it, since it includes what’s on Math 1 (two years of algebra and geometry) as well as trigonometry and pre-calculus. It all depends on how confident you are in your ability.
What is Biology E/M?
- The Biology test consists of 80 questions, 60 of which are the same whether you choose Ecological or Molecular. 20 are different questions:
- Biology Ecological leans towards biological communities, populations, and energy flow
- Biology Molecular leans toward biochemistry, cellular structure and processes, such as respiration and photosynthesis.
Any recommendations on what to take or not take?
- We don't suggest taking World History or US History as it is very difficult to get high scores on those.
- If you don’t know what to take, SAT Chinese with Listening is an easy one. The average score is 761. (Administered every November)
What should be my goals for different subjects?
- Math 2 - 790
- Science (after taking honors)
- Biology E/M - 700
- Chemistry - 770
- Physics - 790
- Biology E/M - 700
- You can also check the averages of other subjects and compare them with your own skill level to set your own goals.
When should I start preparing?
Start whenever you want. You will be learning new material during your high school classes, so if you pay attention in class, and maybe do some supplemental studying on the side, you should be fine.
When should I take the exams?
You can take them throughout your high school. However, because you continue to learn new material in class, it is advisable to not take the subject tests any earlier than junior year. Wait until you have consolidated your knowledge and feel prepared to take the tests. Generally, most students take the subject tests in the fall semester of their junior year.
Do I have to send all my SAT subject test scores?
No, most colleges allow you to choose which scores to send. However, keep in mind that some colleges or scholarship programs require you to send all your scores.
How are the Subject Tests scored?
- 1 point is added for each correct answer
- A fraction of point is subtracted for wrong answers:
- 1/2 point is subtracted for three-choice questions.
- 1/3 point is subtracted for four-choice questions.
- 1/4 point is subtracted for five-choice questions.
- No points are deducted for unanswered questions
- If the resulting score is a fraction, it is rounded to the nearest whole number — 1/2 or more is rounded up; less than 1/2 is rounded down.
How do I prepare for subject tests?
- Decide what you want to take
Follow the guidelines of Q7, do practice tests on different subjects you are considering. See what you did the best on, or what you think you can improve the most on. It is important to find the right tests for you to show your maximum potential.
- Study Methods
Study on your own (online resources or prep books like Kaplan)
Study with a tutor
Go to test prep institutes like Trinity Scholar, where you can get a teacher who is not only an expert in the test herself or himself, but also has gone through training from a test prep company.
How can I get high scores?
During the test
- Always understand your mistakes and avoid them the next time.
- Always learn what you didn’t understand before.
- Rest well the night before the exam.
- Eat a healthy breakfast the morning of the exam.
During the test
- If one question is taking a while, move on and come back later.
- If you are completely unsure of how to answer a question, work by process of elimination.
- Try not to guess randomly, because there is a penalty for incorrect answers (see Q.15). Make educated guesses if you must.
- Double check your answers.