You’ve probably heard a lot about the SAT and the ACT, but you probably aren’t as familiar with the SAT Subject Tests. Now, we know you’re probably thinking, “What?! MORE tests?!” We get it—test-taking can wear on you. But not to fear. We’re here to help you through it.
The SAT Subject Tests are hour-long, subject-specific exams. Some colleges require them as part of your application package. Generally you can take SAT Subject Tests on all SAT test dates, and you can bang out up to three in one sitting if you’re up for it.
Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a comprehensive overview of the SAT Subject Test areas on our blog. College Board has also put out a list of schools that require SAT Subject Tests, so be sure to check if your schools are on this list.
How to prepare for the SAT Subject Tests
Just as you’re doing with the rSAT, you should put together a solid test prep plan for the SAT Subject Tests. Each Subject Test is different, so each will require a specialized plan. But here are some general observations to get you started:
- Take your Subject Tests shortly after you finish taking a course on that topic. For Example, you should take the Subject Test in Chemistry after you take an AP Chemistry course.
- Take the tests in May or June. At the end of the academic year, the information will still be fresh in your mind. (Just make sure the test dates don’t conflict with any other exams.)
- Start preparing in earnest about two months before the exam. We recommend test prep books, especially Princeton Review or Barron’s.)
- In order to get a sense of how you would do on the test, take a diagnostic exam from the Princeton or Barron’s test prep book. The Official SAT Subject Test Study Guide is also available, but you should save this for closer to the end of your test prep period.
- After you take the diagnostic, work through the test prep guide. If you need help mastering any of the core concepts on the exam, you might consider working with a tutor.
- Focus on areas that are unfamiliar, particularly challenging, or that you didn’t do as well on in the diagnostic.
- Take the official practice test from the SAT Subject Test Study Guide two weeks before your exam. If you’re still struggling, definitely reach out to us or to a tutor for help.
One super important thing to note:
A lot of admissions officers say that in the grand scheme of things, SAT Subject Tests don’t play a big role in your application. You should still pay attention to them and perform as well on them as possible, but keep your perspective—you should definitely not spend as much time on the SAT Subject Tests as you spend on other tests.
Another super important thing to note:
Many colleges who require SAT Subject Tests will accept an ACT test with writing instead. Check the website of the schools you are applying to in order to find out—you might save yourself some time!