The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) Subject Tests are intended to assist the high school student in highlighting his or her academic excellence and achievement in specific subjects. SAT Subject Test scores assess a student’s knowledge and understanding of high school curricula in the specific subject, which may improve a student’s potential for college admission and also for financial aid and scholarships.
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An excellent score on an SAT Subject Test may also grant the student college level credit for freshman courses in the SAT Subject Test subject matter, or it may enhance the student’s course placement in the college, depending on the student’s score.
In addition, SAT Subject Tests may be used as a replacement for New York State Regents exam scores, and passing scores can serve to meet certain universities’ minimum subject based competency requirements for eligibility to apply for admission.
Twenty (20) separate SAT Subject Tests are offered within five (5) categories:
- English: Literature
- History: U.S. History and World History
- Languages: French, French with Listening, German, German with Listening, Spanish, Spanish with Listening, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Chinese with Listening, Japanese with Listening, and Korean with Listening
- Mathematics: Mathematics Level 1 and Mathematics Level 2
- Science: Biology Ecological (E) or Biology Molecular (M), Chemistry, and Physics
Students should sit for the SAT Subject Tests either in the fall or spring of the student’s sophomore year, or more particularly just after completing the course’s study year when the subject matter information that was covered will be recently remembered by the testing student. As most students will be applying to university generally by the fall of their senior year, students should take the SAT Subject Tests no later than by November of their senior year.
Students may register for the SAT Subject Tests online at www.sat.collegeboard.org. Basic registration fee is $22 (2010/11 fees); Language with Listening fee is an additional $22. Each additional Subject Test fee is $11. Students may register by phone ($15), register late ($26), request to change a test date, a test, or test site ($25). Scores will be posted online at the student’s secure site and/or are mailed for no fee.
SAT Subject Tests can be taken at the same testing center where a student takes the SAT exam. Most tests are usually offered on the same day as the SAT test, but one cannot take both the SAT exam along with an SAT Subject Test on the same date. A student can choose to sit for up to three (3) separate Subject Tests during any one test day, but only one (1) Language with Listening test per test date.
Language with Listening Subject Tests are always administered during the first testing hour of the day. Each SAT Subject Test is offered at various times during the year and students should be aware that a test may only be offered in the spring or in the fall. Some Language with Listening Subject Test exams are only offered in November.
Students must bring two (2) number 2 pencils, a photo ID, and the printed admission ticket to the SAT Subject Test. Students may also bring a silent watch to the testing site. Acceptable calculators (graphing or scientific) are allowed with the Mathematics Subject Tests only; an acceptable CD player (not capable of recording or duplicating) with earphones is required to be used only with any of the Language with Listening Subject Tests.
Students may want to bring extra batteries for the CD player. Students are not allowed to bring to the testing site any books, notebooks, scratch paper, pens, colored pencils, highlighters, rulers, protractors, compasses, timers, cell phones, PDAs, iPods, BlackBerries, or any digital, electronic equipment or devices, with the exception of the acceptable items mentioned previously that are allowed for the Math Tests and Language with Listening Subject Tests.
Each SAT Subject Test consists of between 60 and 100 multiple choice problems or questions and the test must be completed within a one-hour maximum allotted time frame. Multiple choices may include reading a passage or problem with 3 to 5 possible answers. Some multiple choices may include identifying an error in a sentence or problem, or validating that no error exists. Since the test is timed, it is recommended that the student quickly scan all the problems and begin first by answering the questions that seem to be the easiest.
Then, proceed to questions that may require more time to decipher. It is recommended that the student not spend too much time on any one problem. If the answer has not been deduced within 2 minutes, it is advised to make an educated guess and move on to the next problem. Be sure to read the sections, problems, and answer choices carefully, and pay particular attention to the words except, not, and least.
The Language Subject Tests without any listening portions will test only the student’s reading comprehension of the subject language. The Language with Listening Subject Tests will assess reading in the subject language but will also test the student’s listening comprehension of the foreign language. The student’s language comprehension in both reading and listening will be tested with the use of multiple choice questions after either reading or listening to a passage in the foreign language.
Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Hebrew reading comprehension multiple choice questions are written in the specific language’s alphabet; students should be capable of reading the languages’ characters as well as understanding the spoken word of the language.
Honors’ courses and Advanced Placement courses in high school will help prepare the student for high scores in the SAT Subject Tests, but students with excellent comprehension of the regular high school subject courses should also be able to make high scores in these tests. Language students are counseled to take the Subject Test in their preferred language after several years of study of the language.
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by Enoch Morrison | Last Updated: January 9, 2019