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SAT Subject Matter Tests (Formerly SAT IIs)

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More tests? Yes, the SAT Subject Matter Tests. As you plan your junior and senior years in high school, and begin to prepare for either the SATs or the ACT Exam.

you will need to check with your colleges of interest to learn if they require the SAT Subject Matter Tests.

Many schools require two Subject Matter Tests, but some colleges require three or more. For instance, USC requires three Subject Matter tests from students who are either home-schooled or attending a high school that is not regionally accredited.

The Subject Matter Tests do not replace an ACT or SAT test. If required, they are taken in addition to the ACT or SAT.

Most students take the tests toward the end of their junior year or in the fall of their senior year.

The University of California plans to eliminate the Subject Matter tests as a requirement for application by 2012. Read carefully: They still Recommend the Subjects tests, they just will not REQUIRE them. Taking them will enhance your application.

Note: My recommendation is that you schedule the Subject Matter Tests for May/June following your AP Finals in that subject.

If not taking a test in an AP subject, schedule the Subject Test close to the time of a final in your intended subject.

This means you need to schedule carefully and plan ahead since you cannot take an SAT I on the same day that you take any Subject Matter Tests. You could however, take the Subject Matter Tests early in the month, and then schedule an ACT for later in the month or an SAT I for the next time it is administered.

Each Subject Matter Test lasts one hour, and they are scheduled for the same Saturdays as the SAT I Reasoning Test. You may take up to three tests of your choice in one sitting.

Each test has a total of 800 possible points.

You can purchase test prep books for any of the SAT Subject Matter Tests.

Most colleges and universities require two or three of these exams, but you may take as many as you wish. Again, always study the academic requirements for any school in which you have an interest.


College Board Learning Center for SAT Subject Matter Tests (SAT IIs)

SAT Subject Matter Tests

The SAT Subject Matter Tests are knowledge-based tests, as compared to the SAT I, which is more of a test of logic and strategy.

These subjects tests are designed to measure your knowledge and skills in particular subject areas, as well as your ability to apply that knowledge.

The Subject Matter Test scores demonstrate to colleges your mastery of specific subjects like English, history, mathematics, science, and language.

The tests are independent of any particular textbook or method of instruction. The tests' content evolves to reflect current trends in high school curricula, but the types of questions change little from year to year.

Many colleges use the Subject Matter Tests for admission, for course placement, and to advise students about course selection. They are used in combination with other background information:

  • your high school record

  • Scores from other tests like the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT

  • Your application information, including extracurricular activities and volunteering experience.



  • Teacher recommendations
  • This information provides dependable measures of your academic achievement and are a good predictor of future performance.

    Some colleges specify the Subject Matter Tests they require for admission or placement; others allow applicants to choose which tests to take.

    For instance, the University of California

    does not require that you take a math subject matter test, but if you do elect to take the math test, they require that it be the Math Level II Subject Matter Test.

    On the other hand, SUNY (State University of New York)

    has different requirements for different schools in the system.

    Generally speaking, private schools are more apt to require the Subject Matter Tests.


    Subject Tests fall into five general subject areas:

  • English: there is just one English test, the Literature Subject Test. The SAT I, as of March 2005, contains what used to be the SAT II Subject Matter Writing Test.

  • History and Social Studies

    • U.S. History

    • World History
  • Mathematics
    • Math Level I

      • Math Level II
    • Science

      • Biology E: questions pertaining to biological communities, populations and energy flow.

      • Biology M: questions pertain to biochemistry, cellular structure and processes, such as respiration and photosynthesis

        • You will indicate your choice of Biology E or Biology M on your answer sheet on test day. You may not take both Biology tests on the same day.

      • Chemistry

        • Physics

        • Language Subject Matter Tests

        • Chinese with Listening

        • French

        • French with Listening

        • German

        • German with Listening

        • Spanish

        • Spanish with Listening

        • Modern Hebrew

        • Italian

        • Latin

        • Japanese with Listening

        • Korean with Listening

      • For specific information on the material covered in each of the Subject Matter tests, go to the CollegeBoard test-specific prep pages

        and in the drop-down box on the upper left of the page, select the test(s) for which you need information.

        After you have made your selection, the text just beneath that box will offer information on test format, sample questions, and web resources for test preparation.

        You may also download, in PDF, the

        SAT Subject Matter Tests Preparation Booklet


        SAT Subject Matter Tests - Tips and Strategies

        Tips from the College Board to help you do your best on the SAT Subject Matter Tests

        When do I take it?.

        • Take the SAT Subject Tests when the content is fresh in your mind. (see top of page)

        • That is often at the end of the course for subjects like biology, chemistry, and world history.

        • It could also be after you have studied a subject for several years (a language, for example).

        • Discuss this with a teacher, counselor or your consultant if you are not sure what to do.

        Know what to expect on the SAT Subject Matter Tests.

        • Become familiar with the organization of the tests you are interested in, the types of test questions, and test day procedures.

        Memorize the test directions ahead of time.

        • For every minutes you spend reading test directions, you will have one less minute available to answer questions. Learn directions now.

        Do the easier questions first.

        • The easier questions are usually at the beginning of a grouping of questions. You can earn as many points for easy questions as you can for hard questions.

        Know how the tests are scored.

      • You get one point for each right answer and lose a fraction of a point for each wrong answer. You neither gain nor lose points for omitting an answer.

      • (These tests are scored just like the SAT I Exam.)

        If you are going to guess, guess intelligently.

        • If you can rule out one or more answer choices for a multiple-choice question as definitely wrong, your chances of guessing correctly among the remaining choices improve.

        • If you have no clue as to the correct answer, random guessing is not to your advantage.

        • You should omit questions only when you really have no idea how to answer them.

        • Cross off answers you know are wrong; this will help you get to the right answer more quickly.

        • Mark questions you did not answer.

        • Be sure to mark your answers on the separate answer sheet because you won't receive credit for any answers you marked in the test book.
      • Note: Don't make extra marks on the answer sheet. The answer sheet is machine scored, and the machine goes to the #2 pencil marks. You want those to be the marks in the bubbles.

        Get familiar with the SAT Subject Matter Tests answer sheet.

        • A copy appears in the back of Real SAT Subject Tests. Your school library should have a copy of this publication.

        You may use a calculator (batteries?) on the Mathematics Level 1 and Mathematics Level 2 tests only.

        • Take an acceptable CD player and extra batteries to the test center if you are registered for any of the listening tests. Test centers will not have extra CD players or batteries for your use.



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