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

What are the SAT® Subject Tests and Should I Take Them?
SAT® Subject Tests can be helpful both for admissions and course placement purposes for some schools. Find out if you should take them.
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What are the SAT® Subject Tests and Should I Take Them?
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Many people, students included, love the idea of “more.” Think more bandwidth, binge watching for hours, unlimited breadsticks, and the Fast and Furious movie franchise — people can’t seem to get enough.

More is bigger. More is better. More is . . . well, more.

But more probably isn’t as celebrated when it comes to testing, and that is exactly what the SAT® subject tests are: more tests. However, before you dismiss the idea of additional exams, consider the following Q&A about the SAT subject tests, because these tests can be a difference maker for getting into your first choice college.

How many SAT subject tests are available? How long is each test? What format are the questions?

SAT subject tests are shorter than the actual SAT and focus on single topics. Students are given one hour to complete the test they’ve chosen. All the questions are multiple choice.

There are currently 20 SAT subject tests available, spanning five general subject areas — mathematics, science, languages, history, and English. You get to choose which tests you want to complete.

Let’s “bottom line” this: Are SAT subject tests required to get into a 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? (Basically, is it worth it?) 

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.

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.

While the SAT subject tests won’t take the place of the ACT or SAT, they enable students who may have earned a less-than-stellar grade on the  Reading and Writing portion of the SAT to show they have special skills in other areas.

Okay, so now what?

It takes skillful study and preparation to score well on the SAT or ACT, so 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 for your chosen field at your university of choice. While it takes additional time to study SAT subject test matter, 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 should depend not only on your strengths but also your chosen field of study and which university you hope to gain admission to.

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 an 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.

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 optimal scores.

If you are preparing to take the ACT or SAT, UWorld can help you reach your dream score! Their industry-leading test prep solutions will have you as ready on test day as you can possibly be. Click here to see how they can help you ace the test.

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