What is the difference between SAT Subject Tests and Advanced Placement classes and exams?
SAT Subject Tests are high school-level tests, reflecting high school curricula. These tests indicate a student’s readiness to take college-level courses in specific subject areas. AP Exams, however, assess a student’s college-level knowledge, skills and abilities, learned in the corresponding AP courses. As a result, the topics covered on SAT Subject Tests may differ from those covered on AP Exams.
While AP Exams are also an excellent way to demonstrate understanding in specific subject areas, not all students have an opportunity to take AP courses in a range of subjects. For students who lack access to AP and still wish to demonstrate subject knowledge, the Subject Tests offer this opportunity. Also, students who are taking an AP course in senior year may not have their AP Exam score to report to colleges in time to meet admission deadlines. In this case, they could use Subject Tests scores to show their mastery in the subject.
Should I take SAT Subject Tests if I’ve already taken other college admission tests (e.g., SAT or ACT)?
Some colleges require or recommend SAT Subject Tests in addition to the SAT or ACT. Some also use these for course placement once you’ve arrived on campus. Depending on your performance, you may potentially fulfill basic requirements or even receive credit for introductory-level courses.
If you’re interested in particular programs of study, take Subject Tests to show colleges that you’re ready for certain majors or courses. Along with other admission credentials (your high school record, SAT scores, teacher recommendation, etc.), Subject Tests help provide a complete picture of your academic background and interests.
What if I don’t know which colleges I’m going to apply to?
You should still consider taking Subject Tests in case you decide on colleges or programs that do require or recommend them. You don’t want to have to try to schedule tests at the last minute. And remember, even colleges that don’t require or recommend Subject Tests may consider them as part of your application.
What if the colleges that I’m interested in don’t require Subject Test scores?
You may still want to take Subject Tests in the subjects that you excel in and submit those scores. Many colleges may still consider Subject Tests when reviewing your application, since they give a more complete picture of your academic background and show your readiness to focus on a specific major or program of study. Subject Tests can also help you place into the right college courses.
Should I still take the SAT Subject Test if there are a few topics on the test that weren’t covered in my class?
If there are some practice questions or topics that you’re not familiar with, don’t worry. Though it’s possible you haven’t covered every single topic on the test, you do not have to get every question on each test correct to receive the highest score. Many students do well on the tests despite not having studied every topic covered on the test.
If you’re still concerned, seek help from your teacher to review the topics that you’re not familiar with.
The questions on the SAT Subject Tests are developed by high school teachers, college professors and other education experts. This diverse group makes sure that the tests reflect what you’re learning in school. After the questions are developed, they are reviewed and pretested at high schools across the country to ensure that each question is fair for students from all backgrounds.
Are Subject Tests used for anything other than college admission and placement?
Yes. If you live in New York state, you may be able to use SAT Subject Test scores to substitute for a Regents examination score. Speak with your counselor or teacher to see if this might be appropriate for you.
Some colleges allow you to use SAT Subject Test scores to meet minimum subject-based requirements to be eligible to apply for admission (e.g., University of California’s a-g requirements, Arizona State University’s subject competency requirements).
A high score in Subject Tests in specific foreign languages can also qualify you for the Seal of Biliteracy in some states, including New York and California.
You’ll want to take the tests that are required or recommended by the colleges that you’re interested in. Also consider subjects that you excel in or may want to major in, to showcase your strengths and interests.