SAT Subject Tests: Which Exams You Should Take and When to Take Them

SATA majority of colleges require or recommend taking at least two SAT Subject Tests, but they do not usually advise applicants as to which tests they should take. Students are then left to decide when to take their Subject Tests and how to interpret varying institution-specific guidelines about which subjects to choose and how scores will be used.

For students who don’t have a firm idea of where they want to apply, the best course of action is to take two Subject Tests that highlight their academic strengths. Most students will choose subjects that have some relation to their intended majors, but as there are so many more majors than there are Subject Tests so these matches do not need to be exact.

For example, an applicant planning on pursuing an environmental science major might like to take Subject Tests in Math II and Biology. Another student applying to the same program might choose instead to take subject tests in Chemistry and American History. Either would be perfectly reasonable choices. If a college has a more specific requirement, it will be clearly stated on their website, but for the majority of students, two tests in areas of strength will make for the best possible application for the widest range of colleges.

That being said, here are some points to consider about particular cases where it could pay to think more carefully about which SAT Subject Tests to choose:

Pay Attention to Specific Program Requirements
Some colleges and programs that take freshman applications will impose their own SAT Subject Test requirements. This practice is most widespread in STEM programs. For example, MIT requires applicants to take one Subject Test in math (Level 1 or Level 2) and one in science (Biology, Chemistry, or Physics). UCLA’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences requires test scores from the Math Level 2 exam and one science subject exam.

The engineering programs at Berkeley and San Diego have the same requirement that UCLA does, even though there are no Subject Test requirements at all for students in other majors. With this in mind, if you know you will be applying to a specific school, pay attention to their unique SAT Subject Test requirements (if they have any) and adhere to them.

Consider Foreign Language Proficiency and Placement
The College Board offers SAT Subject Tests in nine different languages. For some languages, you have a choice between a written test and a test with a listening component. Other language tests are only available in one format or the other. Many colleges accept SAT language exams for placement or credit in language courses, but don’t rush out to take one of these tests for that reason alone – especially if you’re not as well prepared as you could be. If you’re concerned about missing out on credit, wait until you make your college decision and then take the exam during the spring of your Senior year (only if you know it will benefit you).

Reasons to Take More Than 2 SAT Subject Tests
One good reason to add a 3rd SAT Subject Test is if you want to take one in a language of which you are a heritage speaker. In that case, you may want to make the Subject Test for that language your third exam. This way, you can show how proficient you are in a second language while still taking two other exams in subjects that you have studied in an academic setting.

Another reason to take an additional Subject Test is to fulfill less common school-specific requirements. For example, Georgetown is one of few schools to still recommend three SAT Subject Tests. At NYU, which has a test-flexibly policy, the admissions office will actually accept three Subject Tests in lieu of the regular SAT. If you plan to apply to schools like Georgetown or NYU, consider taking three SAT Subject Tests before submitting your applications.

Reasons to Skip the SAT Subject Tests
Some colleges have made SAT Subject Tests optional, or have even stopped considering them all together. For instance, At Columbia, subject tests are accepted but not required, and at the University of Chicago, they state,”SAT II’s are truly optional, and not sending us Subject Tests will not hurt your application.” If you are sure that your college application list does not include schools where Subject Tests are required, it’s safe to trust that “optional” really means “optional,” and skip the tests.

When to Take SAT Subject Tests
If you are applying to one or more schools where SAT Subject Tests are strongly recommended or required, the next decision that you must make is when to take them.

Don’t be afraid to take SAT Subject Tests early on in your high school career. If your school offers AP World History in the 10th grade and you know that you’ll be interested in taking the test for that subject, go ahead and start fulfilling your Subject Test requirements early. On the other hand, if you know that your school offers two years of a single subject (for example, 9th grade Chemistry and 11th grade AP Chemistry), wait to take your Subject Test for that subject at the end of the second year.

Since history and science Subject Tests correspond closely with year-long high school courses, it is best to take them immediately after you’ve completed the relevant course. The math and literature exams, however, draw on skills that are developed over a period of years, and so these do not necessarily need to be taken in conjunction with specific classes. If you’re taking literature or math, find a time around your Junior year when your schedule will allow you the time to study and work with practice tests.

Finally, if you’re taking a language exam, it is advisable to wait until the end of Junior year or the beginning of Senior year to take the test. This way, you’ll allow yourself the maximum amount of time to practice the language before the exam.

SAT Subject Tests are necessary for many students, but each individual has a lot of flexibility in deciding which ones to take and when to take them. And if you’re still uncertain about what tests to choose or how to prepare, consider getting in touch with an experienced tutor or admissions consultant here at Veritas Prep.

Do you need help navigating the college application process and determining which tests to take for the schools you are applying to? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique situation! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Anne Mathews is a Veritas Prep SAT instructor based in Los Angeles. 

Get the Extra Help You Need with AP Calculus AB and BC Tutoring

tutoringAre you taking an AP calculus course or preparing for an AP calculus test? If you’re an ambitious high school student who is studying calculus, you may be looking into getting an AP calculus tutor. A talented tutor can help you in a variety of ways as you progress through an AP calculus course or prep for the AP exam. There are distinct advantages to signing up for AP calculus tutoring services to help you through this difficult material.

Practice With an Expert in Calculus
Calculus tutors are especially helpful when it comes to practice exercises. Whether you’re taking a practice exam as you prepare for the official test or you’re practicing for an upcoming quiz in your calculus class, you must know how to tackle different types of problems.

A tutor who is an expert in calculus can look at the steps of your completed practice exercises and tell you how you can improve. For example, your tutor may point out important steps that you skipped in some of your incorrect problems. This observation from your tutor can help you get into the habit of looking over all of your steps before putting down your final answer to each problem.

The experienced calculus tutors at Veritas Prep have worked with many high school students enrolled in AP calculus. We are familiar with the challenging aspects of this subject and are ready to provide you with the guidance you need to feel confident regarding your calculus skills. You will work with an instructor who mastered calculus and is more than prepared to help you excel in the subject.

Learn Lessons with Efficiency
When it comes to studying calculus, math tutor lessons should be delivered in your own learning style. If you’re a visual learner, for example, your tutor should use graphs, drawings, and even animated examples to enhance a lesson. At Veritas Prep, we provide calculus tutoring services tailored to the needs of each student. We are dedicated to helping you learn this challenging subject in the most effective way possible.

Get Tips on the AP Calculus Test
Students who are taking an official AP calculus test will take either the AB or BC version. The difference between these two tests is the type of material each one covers. The AP Calculus AB test covers the definite integral, the fundamental theorem of calculus, and techniques and applications of the derivative. The AP Calculus BC test covers those topics as well as polar, vector, and parametric functions.

Another way to look at it is that the material on the AB test is the same as what a student learns in one semester of college calculus. Alternatively, the material on the BC test is equal to one year spent in a college calculus course. An AP Calculus AB tutor or an AP Calculus BC tutor at Veritas Prep can prepare you for all of the problems you’ll encounter on the test you take. Furthermore, our tutors have practical experience with these tests. This means we can provide you with unique insights on the subtleties of both AP calculus exams.

Learn New Study Strategies
As you work on calculus problems either in class or during study time, you may notice that it’s taking you a long time to complete certain types of problems. A skillful tutor can provide you with strategies on how to reduce the amount of time it takes you to finish those problems. This is especially important if you are studying for the AP Calculus AB or BC test.

Regardless of which test you take, you’re given a total of three hours and 15 minutes to complete it. This makes timing an important factor if you want to perform at your best on the test. If you’re encountering challenges memorizing particular formulas or theorems, your tutor can step in and offer some tips on how you can commit those facts to memory. A qualified tutor will have a strategy to help you get past any stumbling block you encounter in AP calculus.

If you’re striving to master AP Calculus, we have experienced tutors who can help you achieve that goal. We have a few tutoring options available so you can select one that fits with your busy schedule. Contact us today and get ready to tackle the exam!

AP Biology Tutoring for High School Students

i-have-no-idea-what-im-doing-science-dog1In many high schools, students can take advanced placement courses in several different subjects. One of those subjects is biology. Taking an AP biology course in high school may allow you to earn college credit. This is especially appealing if you want to get a head start on completing all of your required courses.

If you decide to take an AP biology course, you may want to consider getting a tutor. An AP biology tutor can help to boost your performance. Study for AP biology with a tutor to improve the odds of a high score!

Enjoy a Different Perspective
A tutor can offer you different ways to look at a challenging topic. For instance, if you’re having trouble understanding a particular concept in genetics, your tutor may be able to suggest different ways of approaching it. Sometimes looking at a topic in an unfamiliar way can lead to better understanding. There’s a good chance that your tutor will be able to offer some strategies that contribute to your understanding of a puzzling concept.

Our AP tutors at Veritas Prep are both experienced and knowledgeable. When you work with one of our professional AP biology tutors, you’re studying with someone who has mastered the subject. We believe it’s best to learn from the experts!

When you have an AP biology tutor, you’re likely to feel a stronger sense of accountability. A sense of accountability helps you to keep up with all of your coursework and take excellent notes during class. Plus, you want to get the most out of each session with your tutor.

After signing up with Veritas Prep, you’ll meet with an experienced tutor to discuss your goals. As you achieve each goal, you’ll gain more confidence in your ability to master the material in your AP biology course. Furthermore, you’ll feel prepared to take the AP test and move a step closer to starting college on the right foot.

A More Efficient Way of Learning
By definition, students taking an AP biology course are completing more challenging work than students taking a typical biology course. The material is covered at a faster rate to give you a taste of what you’ll experience in college courses. Working with an AP biology tutor gives you an extra advantage when navigating this course. A tutor can convey lessons and tips in a way that flows with your learning style. This adds a tremendous amount of efficiency to the process of learning and reviewing any type of class material.

Focused, Individual Attention
A big benefit of working with a tutor for AP biology is that you will receive individual attention. For instance, perhaps you’ve written down several questions to ask your AP biology teacher at school, but when the class period ends, the teacher doesn’t have time to sit down with you to address them.

With our AP biology tutors, you won’t have to worry about that. Your tutor can help you get answers to all of your questions so you can continue to perform well in class. Also, a tutor can review the lessons with you to ensure your understanding of them.

Tutors at Veritas Prep understand the amount of work that is expected of students in an AP biology class, and we know that a tutor who provides individual attention can sometimes be the difference between a student’s partial and full understanding of a biology lesson.

Encouragement and Support
Of course, the responsibility of your tutor is to instruct you in biology and provide you with guided practice that helps you to fully understand the topics. In addition, your AP biology tutor can supply you with the encouragement and support you need, especially as you tackle extraordinarily challenging material. At Veritas Prep, we are proud to have AP biology tutors who serve as supportive study partners to students like you.

We provide you with first-rate study resources and tutoring so you can conquer even the most difficult lessons in your AP biology course. Also, our talented instructors are more than ready to prep you for the AP exam for biology. We put the element of convenience into our services so you can choose a tutoring option that fits your schedule. Contact our offices today to start working toward straight A’s in AP biology.

Prove That You’re Ready for College by Taking AP Classes

AP CoursesYou know when parents say things like, “If Riley and Maya jumped off a cliff, would you?” Of course you wouldn’t – you just want to be allowed to (take public transportation alone, go to a concert, etc.) like Riley and Maya. Well, AP classes are definitely something you want to be doing if Riley and Maya are doing them – and this time, your parents will agree. If you are applying to competitive colleges, you can’t afford to be the only applicant without AP classes on your transcript.

What are AP classes?
AP classes are essentially “high school classes on steroids”. By taking AP classes, you’re showing college admissions officers that you can perform at a higher level than the average student at your school, and that you are ready for the big show – college.

For example, you can take a standard high school US History class and become really annoyed with concepts like tariffs and accept that the British are pretty lame. Or, you can challenge yourself by taking AP European History. The subject matter will be more in-depth and you will become an avid tea drinker in order to fully immerse yourself in the European way (plus, you may need the tea to stay up late studying).

AP classes come with a specially trained teacher, increased critical thinking, and more work. If you perform well, it also means a higher-than-4.0 GPA and a more impressive college application.

What are AP exams?
Because AP classes are designed to be on par with college classes, you can take official AP exams offered by The College Board that will prove you should earn real college credit for your studies. If you’re taking AP classes, these exams are imperative because they can allow you to possibly bypass general education courses in college.

Essentially, AP classes will save you money and free up time to volunteer for worthy causes  – at least this is what you will say on your application. In reality, you will probably use your free time to nap.

AP exams are scored on a one to five scale. Aim to score at least a four if you are planning to apply to competitive colleges. Fun fact: you are able to take AP exams without having been enrolled in their respective AP classes, so even if your school does not offer AP courses, you can still study up on a particular subject to take its AP exam.

Will all colleges accept my AP work as college credit?
Some will and some won’t. It is important to research each college you are applying to and find out exactly how AP classes and exams translate to that particular school.

Harvard, for example, does not offer college credit for AP classes on a one-to-one basis. However, Harvard does use AP exam results for course placement, as well as to give students the opportunity to apply for Advance Standing – meaning you can graduate in three years instead of the traditional four.

The University of California (UC) system, on the other hand, does count AP classes as elective college credits as long as you score a three or higher on the official exam (to be a competitive applicant, you should still aim to score a four or five). Additionally, UC schools will allow you to use AP classes to bypass introductory college courses.

What if my high school doesn’t offer AP classes?
Some high schools offer only a few AP classes while others may offer none. College admissions officers review your transcript while also evaluating what academic opportunities you had at your high school, so they will know whether you were actually able to take AP courses or not.

Even if your high school doesn’t offer AP classes, you can still show admissions officers that you’re ready for college-level work by enrolling in courses at your local community college. And if transportation is an issue, many community colleges offer courses online.

What about IB courses?
The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is offered at schools worldwide, though it is not nearly as popular in the United States as it is in other countries. Like AP classes, the IB coursework is more rigorous than standard high school classwork, and by scoring well on an IB exam, you can earn college credit and/or advanced placement. You can learn more about IB courses here.

So I need to prepare for AP exams and the SAT/ACT?
Basically, yes. Aside from studying for these exams, however, you also need to do well in your other schoolwork and still have time for extracurricular activities, sports and prom. Fortunately, Veritas Prep is here to help you prepare for your exams and consult you on your time management.

Veritas Prep college consultants and tutors can work with you to create an in-depth timeline and help you plan class schedules so that you are taking all the right steps during your high school career. Riley and Maya have already signed up!

Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

The College Transfer Process: How to Transfer Colleges

Columbia UniversityIt’s not unusual for a student to start courses at a college, only to realize that they want to make a change. Perhaps the student wants to attend a school with more resources for art students, or maybe a student wants to switch to a school that allows its students to put their knowledge into practice via internship opportunities.

There are countless reasons why college students want to transfer to other schools, and understandably, students in this situation want to know how this process works – how to complete the prep work necessary to put the transfer into motion. Before taking this big step, examine what a student must do in order to transfer colleges:

Researching the Deadline for Transfer Applications
One of the first steps to transferring schools is for students to visit the website of the college they want to attend. Many colleges have a specific section on their website where students can find information about transferring into the school. It’s important for students to note the various application deadlines so they can submit all of their necessary documents on time.

Sometimes, visiting the college itself to talk with an academic counselor can make the college transfer process easier. For instance, during such a meeting, a student can inquire about the minimum number of credits necessary to transfer into the school (as some colleges won’t consider transfer students unless they’ve earned a certain amount of credits at their current school). The counselor may also be able to help map out strategies that will allow the transfer to graduate on schedule.

Completing an Application
Just like high school seniors, a college student who wants to transfer to a different college must fill out an application, which are available online for most schools. This application must be filled out completely and submitted along with the other required materials by midnight on the date of the deadline.

If you need help putting your application materials together, just contact us! At Veritas Prep, we can evaluate a student’s college transfer application – our professional consultants have experience working in the admissions offices of some of the best universities in the country, so we know what schools are looking for when they evaluate a student’s application, recommendation letters, and other materials.

Getting College Transcripts
A transfer student must also submit their latest college transcript. Naturally, college officials want to know about a student’s performance at their current school before admitting them. Some colleges will even want to see a student’s SAT or ACT scores to get a clearer picture of the person’s academic abilities (this is especially true if the student has spent a short time at their current school). But not to worry – at Veritas Prep, we can provide you with guidance on what colleges look at when evaluating transfer students. Our consultants have experience with the college transfer process and can offer students solid tips on how to navigate their way into a different school.

Obtaining Letters of Recommendation from Professors
For some students, one of the steps to transferring colleges is to garner letters of recommendation from professors. These letters help college officials determine whether the transfer student would be a positive addition to the school. Letters of recommendation should come from professors who are familiar with the student and their work ethic – getting a glowing letter of recommendation from one professor is better than getting lukewarm letters from half a dozen instructors who don’t really know much about the student.

Other Tips for Students Who Want to Transfer to Another College
There are other considerations students should keep in mind when considering transferring, too. Students who have scholarships or other types of financial aid at their current school must determine whether these will be affected if they transfer to another college. Also, transferring to a new school can potentially affect a student’s graduation date because the student may need to take additional classes required by the new college. Transfer students should also check into the availability of housing on campus, as some colleges may not have available housing at the time the student transfers into the school.

Students who want to know more about how to transfer colleges should also take into consideration how their standardized test scores may impact their ability to transfer. In some cases, transfer students with plenty of college credit to their names don’t need to worry as much about their previous SAT or ACT scores, however, if you’re one of the many students who feel that they could improve their scores, Veritas Prep is here to help you do that. We are proud to help students continue to pursue their goals and receive the highest testing scores possible through hard work, dedication, and the right resources. Let us help you today!

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and register to attend one of our FREE Online College WorkshopsAnd as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!