SAT Subject Tests

Should you Take SAT Subject Tests?

The SAT or Scholastic Assessment Test (previously, Scholastic Aptitude Test) is a standardized test for admissions in colleges in the United States of America. A high score in SAT maximizes the chances for success in attaining a place in the top colleges of the US. Admissions officers use the SAT scores to make an informed and fair decision on an application. Together with the student's academic record, the SAT scores provide a reliable prediction of the applicant's success in academics. The SAT is divided into two parts, SAT I and SAT II. SAT I, known as the SAT Reasoning Test is the general test required to be taken by all candidates. SAT II, or SAT Subject Tests, are specific to subjects and are not mandatory for all candidates.

SAT Subject Test Pattern:

SAT Subject Tests measure the knowledge, skills and ability of candidates in particular subject areas. The SAT Subject Tests provide candidates with additional opportunity to highlight their skills in particular subject areas. SAT subject tests can be taken for the following five categories,

  • English – The subject covered is English Literature.
  • Mathematics – The subjects covered are Mathematics Level 1 and Mathematics Level 2
  • Science – The subjects covered are Biology, Physics and Chemistry
  • History – The subjects covered are United States History and World history
  • Languages - Chinese with Listening, French, French with Listening, German, German with Listening, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Japanese with Listening, Korean with Listening, Latin, Spanish, Spanish with Listening

The SAT subject tests are for one-hour each with 20 multiple questions to be answered. They are based on the subjects taught in high school.

Are SAT Subject Tests necessary?:

SAT subject tests are not mandatory for all candidates. A majority of colleges and universities in the United States do not ask for SAT Subject Test scores. However, many of the top colleges mandate two or more SAT subject tests to be taken. Colleges and universities of Amherst, Barnard, Boston College, Brown University, California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton mandate the candidates to take subject tests to decide on the outcome of their application.

While other colleges and universities do not ask for the SAT Subject Tests as necessary criteria for admission, some recommend them for applicants vying to secure admissions in majors that are in high demand. The SAT Subject Tests help to demonstrate the proficiency of a candidate in the particular subject. Good scores in SAT subject tests help to strengthen the application and increase the chances of admission of the applicant in the college or university of his or her choice.

It is up to the candidate to research the particular colleges he or she has applied to for information regarding the SAT Subject Tests. As the criteria and conditions for admission varies from one college to another, it is difficult to generalize the need for the SAT Subject test to be taken. Colleges and universities are known to change the admission criteria from time to time. Therefore, it is imperative to know the current requirements before deciding to take the SAT Subject Tests.

When should you take the SAT Subject Tests?:

Once the decision to take the SAT Subject Tests has been made, it is important to know when the tests should be taken. While they can be taken immediately or shortly after starting to study a subject in high school, some require more time. Subjects such as languages take more time and hence, it is recommended that they be taken after completion of learning or at least two years of study.

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