May 14, 2019

What are the SAT Subject Tests and Should I Take Them?


SAT subject tests are shorter than the actual SAT and focus on a single topic. Students are given one hour to complete any of these tests and all the questions have multiple-choice answers. There are currently twenty SAT subject tests available, spanning five general subject areas—mathematics, science, languages, history, and English. Students can choose which tests they want to complete.

Are SAT Subject Tests Required to Get into College or University?

The majority of nationwide colleges and universities do not require SAT subject tests for admission. However, many colleges do recommend SAT subject tests to strengthen an application, and there are many of the nation’s top colleges that do, in fact, require at least two SAT subject tests. Even colleges and universities that do not require applicants to submit test scores to gain admittance may require that you take certain tests as the scores are used for placement purposes into specific courses or programs. Are There Advantages to Taking SAT Subject Tests?

Even universities that do not specifically require SAT subject tests will pay attention to high SAT subject test scores if submitted. These scores set you apart from other applicants by showing that you are serious about a specific field of study. They are especially helpful if you were homeschooled and need to show evidence of proficiency in one or more areas. They are also useful if you are applying to a competitive college or university with far more applications than available seats. Furthermore, in some instances, a good SAT subject test score can count toward the fulfillment of basic requirements or even enable you to earn credit for introductory courses. 

The College Board notes that SAT subject tests can help students who don't speak English as their native language to highlight their strengths in other areas, including history, science, and math. While these tests won't take the place of the ACT or SAT, they enable students who may have gotten a less than stellar grade on the English or reading/writing tests to show that they have special skills in other areas.

Now What?

Given the fact that it takes a fair bit of studying and preparation to take the SAT or ACT, most students are naturally less than pleased with the idea of taking additional tests. However, it's important to bear in mind that your future goals depend on being able to study your chosen field; furthermore, your choice of university can have a large bearing on the success of your future career. While it takes additional time to study SAT subject test matter and you'll need to pay extra to take the SAT subject tests, the sacrifices can be more than worth it.

To start with, you'll need to choose which subjects you want to be tested in. Your choice will depend not only on your strengths but also your chosen field of study and which university you hope to gain admission to. Research carefully before choosing SAT subject tests as you'll need to pay a fee to take each one and you don't want to spend time studying for something that won't benefit you in the long run. 

Once you've chosen your SAT subject tests, it's time to start studying. College Board offers some helpful SAT subject test practice questions for students who want to know what to expect on the big day. Use these questions to identify weak areas you need to shore up and then set aside time to study. It won't take as long to prepare for a SAT subject test as it would to prepare for the SAT or the ACT but don't cut your study time too short. Generally speaking, giving yourself a month or two to prepare for a subject test is a good idea. 

Next, you'll need to sign up for the SAT subject test or tests you intend to take. You cannot take SAT subject tests on the same day you take the SAT but you can take up to three SAT subject tests on the same day. The testing dates are often the same as for the SAT but this isn't always the case. 

SAT subject tests are a tool that you can use to showcase your strengths and let colleges and universities know that you are serious about your chosen field of study. If you aren't sure which tests are for you, check out the list of subject tests on the College Board website, research SAT subject tests requirements at your chosen university and then set up an effective study program so you can learn the material you need to know in order to get good scores.

UWorld offers comprehensive test-prep to help students do their best on the ACT and SAT. Ready to get started? Visit us to learn more.

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