What are SAT Subject Tests?

If you are preparing for college applications, you may be wondering about SAT subject tests. The SAT is the common standardized test given by the College Board. Students take the general SAT so that their academic skills can be shown to the colleges or universities to which they are applying. While each college considers the general SAT an important element of a student application, they also consider other things as they learn about the student. Since each student has distinct strengths in different academic area, taking specific subject tests, in addition to the overall general test, can help students present a particular profile to the colleges to which they are applying.

Categories and Kinds of Tests

The subject tests are shorter than the overall SAT. Each one focuses in on one specific subject. There are five overall categories in which you can take a specific subject test. The five categories are math, history, english, science, and languages. Within those five areas, there are 20 different tests. For example, within history, you could focus either on world history or United States history. There are nine different languages in which you can test, depending on what language you have studied in high school. There are other specific areas in the other categories as well. For instance, in science you could take a test specific to biology, chemistry, or other types of science, and in math you could focus on different subject levels. To learn more about any of the subject areas, go to the College Board website which provides a good deal of information about the various tests that are offered.

Reasons for Focusing on SAT Subject Tests

There are various reasons students take specific subject tests in addition to the overall SAT. One reason may be that the colleges you are applying to require or recommend that you take subject tests, because it helps them get to know your skills and breadth in certain areas. Even if the college you’re applying to doesn’t make these tests required, they still might appreciate seeing what subject areas you’re especially good at and it could help them decide to accept you. If you already know what subjects you want to major in, taking these kinds of tests can also show the school how ready you are to go into that field of study. And if you do well on the specific subject test, you might even be able to skip some of the entry level courses that they hold within a major. If you have been home schooled, you may also find that the subject area tests help show how well prepared you are and how deeply you have learned a given subject during your high school years. If you don’t have a chance to take advanced placement courses, the subject tests may also help colleges know how ready you are.

Even if the schools you are applying to don’t expect you to take these particular tests, they might help you see how ready you are to go into a certain subject area. As you prepare for your college years, taking the SAT subject tests can help you both feel and show how ready you are to tackle a certain subject area in college.

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