SAT Subject Tests

The Subject Tests are hour-long, content-based tests in specific subject areas. SAT Subject Tests (also referred to as the SAT 2s) allow you to differentiate yourself in the college admission process or send a strong message regarding your readiness to study specific majors or programs in college. In conjunction with the other credentials, they provide a more complete picture of your academic abilities and interests.

There are 20 SAT Subject Tests in five general subject areas: Mathematics, Science, English, History, and Languages. At True North Learning Systems, we provide coaching for the Mathematics, Science, English, and History subject tests.

Why take the tests?

Some colleges require or recommend that you take SAT Subject Tests. In addition, you can enhance your application, demonstrate knowledge you’ve gained outside the classroom, and potentially be exempt from introductory courses.

Which tests to take?

To decide which tests you should take, consult the catalogs of the colleges to which you are applying. Determine what tests, if any, are required. In addition, try to determine whether there is any advantage to taking one or another subject test. For example, you may be exempted from taking a freshman Calculus course or part of a foreign language requirement if you score well enough on the appropriate test. That would give you more flexibility in structuring your curriculum.

How are the Subject Tests scored?

Scores on SAT Subject tests are reported on a scale that ranges from 200 (the lowest) to 800 (the highest). This three-digit score is called the scaled score. Your scaled score is a function of your raw score. Your raw score is determined by the number of questions you answer correctly, less one-fourth of a point for each question you have answered incorrectly. Questions you omit do not affect your score.

How do colleges use the SAT Subject Test score?

SAT Subject Test scores are used by colleges in two basic ways. First, scores may be used by a college to decide which students to accept. Colleges typically consider a wide range of factors, including grades, SAT scores, teacher recommendations, and extracurricular activities. A SAT Subject Test score in a particular subject can give an admissions officer one more measure of an applicant’s academic achievements. Secondly, colleges use scores to guide students in structuring their course of study. For example, a good score on a particular Subject Test might suggest that a student should be exempted from taking a basic course and proceed directly to a more advanced level.

When to take the Subject Tests

In the 2017–18 and 2018–19 school years the SAT Subject tests will be given five times each year, in the months of October, November, December, May, and June. The tests will also be given in June, 2017.

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You should be aware that not every test is given at each administration. Again, consult the catalogs from the colleges to which you are thinking of applying. A school may have a deadline for receiving scores. In that event, you will have to take the test sufficiently in advance of that deadline to ensure your scores will be received in time.


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