On the Subject of SAT Subject Tests

by | Jul 14, 2020 | College Planning, Test Prep | 0 comments

I recently gave a presentation for parents of HS Sophomores and Juniors and the subject of SAT subject tests came up. Compass Academics is based in St. Louis and many of our local clients are not very familiar with the SAT, much less SAT Subject tests. When I mentioned registering for these tests when discussing college prep timelines, many parents seemed perplexed. Of course, to be fair, the SAT is not the go-to standardized test in the Midwest—home of the ACT. Therefore, it was no surprise that the SAT Subject Test was a foreign concept. In fact, I do not usually dwell on them in my consultations with parents unless their student has their eyes set on more selective coastal schools where these scores are sometimes required and often recommended. However, as more parents and their students express concern over how to prepare more competitive applications for admission, I sometimes recommend they consider taking an SAT subject test to show schools what they know and what they are interested in. The College Board maintains a list of schools that require or strongly encourage students to take these tests. I always recommend that if a student is taking an AP course in a subject where the SAT also offers an exam, it makes sense to kill two birds with one stone and try to synchronize them. I also encourage students to consider taking SAT subject tests when they are closest to the material—taking the SAT Biology Subject test at the end of Sophomore year, for example. The SAT Subject test is selected by the student and they get to choose the subject where they think they will perform at their best. This is certainly an advantage over other standardized tests. There are currently 20 different subject tests available and they are all multiple-choice. Students can take up to three subject tests in one testing day, but they cannot take a subject test on the same day that the SAT is taken. This is why planning and scheduling are important. Ultimately, students and parents need to decide if the increased test anxiety is worth it, but many admissions officers indicate that scores on these tests can help set candidates apart. admissionstestingSATACTsubject testcollege examAPtest prepadvanced placement

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