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What to Know About Taking the SAT Subject Tests

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SAT subject tests. SAT 2s. Are they the same test? Should I take them?

The answers are yes and maybe, respectively. And that is just the beginning of the conversation for high school students wondering about these tests.

What are the SAT subject tests?
The SAT Subject Tests are each one hour in length, testing a student on a specific course from school, from United States history to biology to math. Click here for a full list of SAT subject tests offered.

Who should take the SAT subject tests?
Any student can take these tests, but students applying to the most competitive colleges should be most encouraged to take them. These colleges most often require applicants to submit two to three SAT subject tests. If a college requires subject tests, they oftentimes want a student to take math (level 1 or 2) and then one to two other subjects.

Why should students take the SAT subject tests?
Like I said, some colleges (predominantly the most competitive colleges) require applicants to submit both SAT and SAT subject tests.

However, these same colleges will frequently accept just the ACT without subject tests. This is an extremely important point: Call the undergraduate admissions office at a college to find out their test requirement policies.

Independent of requirements, however, if a student is displaying excellence in a class, they should take the corresponding subject tests. The colleges to which they are applying may not require these tests, but high scores are definitely assets to an application.

When should students take the SAT subject tests?
Students in AP classes should sign up to take subject tests based on the same classes for the May date. That way they are studying for the AP and subject tests at the same time. 

Students in honors classes should sign up for June so that they are studying for finals and subject tests simultaneously. Subject tests are offered year-round, but students should really focus only on the May and June test dates for the aforementioned reasons.

Where to take the SAT subject tests?
Subject tests are offered at the same sites as the standard SAT. However, a student cannot take subject tests the same day as the SAT.

Read More Education, Test and Prep Insights from Eric Karlan
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