SAT Subject Tests: Which to Take and Why

SAT Scantron TestAs a high school junior, you may find it helpful to make a list of the standardized tests you must take before applying to colleges. The ACT and the SAT are likely to be at the top of your list. In addition, you may be thinking about taking one or two SAT subject tests.

Many preferred colleges express interest in seeing students’ SAT subject test scores, while others have made them a requirement. Researching the specific admissions requirements of the colleges you plan to apply to is a wise idea. If you find that some of the colleges on your wish list require these test scores, the next logical question is, “Which SAT subject tests should I take?”

A Look at the SAT Subject Tests
Each of these tests measures your level of skill in a certain subject. You can take an SAT subject test in literature, U.S. history, Spanish, math, physics, chemistry and several other subjects. Regardless of which test you choose, you are given one hour to complete it. You can take as many as three SAT subject tests on the same day.

Which SAT Subject Tests Should I Take?
If you have a favorite subject you excel in, it’s a good idea to take an SAT subject test on that topic. For instance, if you’ve always performed well in American history classes, then take the SAT subject test in U.S. History. Take a moment to check out the complete list of SAT subject test options to determine the appropriate choices for you.

Which SAT Subject Tests Are Easiest?
The answer to this question is different for each student depending on their academic talents. For example, if you’ve always excelled in your physics classes, then you would likely find the SAT subject test in physics to be the easiest. Another student whose favorite subject is English would probably find it easy to complete the questions on the SAT subject test in literature. In truth, it’s best to stop wondering which SAT subject tests are easiest: Instead, focus on choosing the tests that will give you the opportunity to highlight your skills in your favorite subjects.

Reasons to Take SAT Subject Tests
There are several reasons why SAT subject test scores are important to colleges during the admissions process. For one, a high score on an SAT subject test shows that you have a thorough understanding of the subject. This shows that you’re a student who is persistent and dedicated to your studies. Plus, your score gives officials an indication of whether you’re ready to tackle college-level classes. Another reason why SAT subject test scores are important is they help college officials place you in courses that will challenge you, so you won’t end up in an introductory course when you’re at a higher level.

Preparing for These Tests
After you decide which SAT subject tests to take, it’s time to start the prep work. Answering practice questions is an excellent way to prepare for a subject test. A practice test allows you to become familiar with the test format and the difficulty of the questions you’ll encounter. One helpful tip is to time your practice test so you know how quickly you must work in order to finish the test in one hour. Ideally, you want to develop a comfortable test-taking rhythm so you don’t feel rushed. The results of your practice SAT subject test can help you figure out what skills to focus on during your study time.

Studying for an SAT subject test is a lot more efficient when you partner with an experienced instructor. The instructors in our SAT subject test tutoring program are experts in the subjects they teach. We provide strategies that help you to improve in your weakest areas while further strengthening your strongest skills. Our professional tutors give you the support you need to showcase your skills in your chosen subjects!

At Veritas Prep, our SAT subject test preparation courses are a combination of top-notch instruction and effective study resources. If you have any questions, check out our FAQ section to find answers. Of course, you can call or email us for further information. Let us play a part in your SAT subject test success!

SAT Tip of the Week: Remember That the Test is Standardized

SAT Tip of the Week - FullThe SAT, as all of you know, is a whole different animal compared to most tests you take. In terms of time, content, and structure, it’s definitely not your average high school exam. While this difference can serve to make the SAT seem particularly difficult, it can actually be a boon to test takers.

Whereas high school tests operate by their own rules and procedures that vary class-by-class and school-by-school, the SAT is by definition a standardized test. And although standardized tests are usually thought of as a drag, in this case standardization makes taking the SAT a lot easier.

Since the SAT is standardized, it has to operate the same way every time – it always plays by the same rules, always has similar types of questions, always has the same instructions, and so on. How is this information helpful to a test taker? Here are three ways to use this knowledge to your advantage:

1) There are no surprises.
Since the SAT has to operate by the same rules on each of its versions, you know what you’re going to get on each exam. There are limited and delineated areas of content, so there’s no chance a question on advanced calculus will show up on your test. Keeping this consistency in mind can help alleviate some stress about the SAT, since you know that if you’ve studied hard, you’ll be prepared for anything the College Board throws at you.

2) Answer choices have to be totally and completely defensible.
Since the test is strictly standardized, there can only be one right answer on each question. Let me say that again: there can only be one right answer per question! No other answer choice besides the right one can be at all correct. If there were answers that were debatable or questionable, then the standardization mechanism of the test would fall apart – there would be no way for the College Board to definitively say who scored better or worse if some questions had two answer possibilities.

So, when taking the test, know that if you find yourself stuck between two answer choices, then you’re thinking about the question wrong in some way. While it can be hard on the ego to admit this, it will help you re-frame these difficult questions in your head and be more confident in your ultimate answers. 

3) Practice really can make perfect (or at least better).  
Going along with the first point, since you know what general questions are going to be on the test, you can know that you are practicing the right things. Unlike some high school tests where you spend days studying only to realize the test isn’t what you thought it was going to be, on the SAT, the real tests will look exactly like the practice tests. So, the more you practice, the more you’ll be prepared for the real thing – it’s as simple as that!

Instead of thinking of the standardization and repetitiveness of the SAT as annoying, now you can know that it is this exact standardization that makes it easier to succeed on this challenging exam.

Still need to take the SAT? Check out our variety of free SAT resources to help you study successfully. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

By Aidan Calvelli.