The SAT Subject Tests – What They Are and When to Take Them

iStock_000010006337XSmall[1]SAT IIs – or the subject tests – are subject specific exams that some colleges require, some colleges recommend, and others do not even consider.  It is important to realize that subject tests are just that, and you should truly be an expert in your subject before you opt to take an examine.

The Subject Tests are administered through CollegeBoard, and are scored out of 800 points.  Each exam is an hour long, and students may take up to three exams in one sitting.

If a school requires Subject Test scores, they often require more than one. If this is the case, it is best to showcase comprehensive strengths.  If you are planning on taking an exam in the humanities, also take one in the math or science department.  In this way, students can present themselves as well-rounded and broadly educated.


Spring of junior year and fall of senior year are the times of year to take the SAT IIs.

These exams are not easy.  They are much more at the AP level than the regents or base level.  If you’re taking AP European, you should consider taking the European History SAT II.  If you taking regents chemistry, you can attempt the SAT II in chemistry, but be forewarned – you’ll need to do a lot of studying!

May and June – just after AP exams – are the perfect times for SAT IIs.  If you don’t hit your mark in the spring, though, you’ll have the whole summer to study and can retake the exams in the fall of senior year. Register online through collegeboard for all SAT IIs.

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