GUIDE TO TAKING SAT SUBJECT TESTS
*For a listing of schools that require, recommend, or consider SAT Subject Test scores, please visit the following website:
*Please be sure to visit individual college websites for up to date testing policy information.
The SAT Subject Tests – Mathematics
Math Level 1
This exam can be taken as early as the end of the school year that is concurrent with your child taking the Algebra 2 Regents Exam. Students who are considering taking these exams should consult with their teacher to discuss their preparation.
Math Level 2
This exam can be taken at the end of the school year that is concurrent with your child taking Pre-Calculus or Pre-Calculus Honors. Students who are considering taking these exams should consult with their teacher to discuss their preparation.
*It is recommended that those students who are applying to the most rigorous colleges take Math Level 2. If you are in doubt about which exam to take, call the admissions office of the school to which your child is considering applying.
The SAT Subject Tests – Science
The College Board offers two one-hour Subject Tests in Biology: Biology E (Ecological) and Biology M (Molecular). The Biology E/M exam assesses the student’s understanding of general biology at the college-preparatory level. The exam consists of 80 multiple choice questions - a common core of 60 questions plus an additional 20 questions in either ecology or molecular biology. Students should determine whether they are more comfortable answering questions pertaining to biological communities, populations and energy flow (Biology E), or biochemistry, cellular structure, and processes, such as respiration and photosynthesis (Biology M). Students choose the section they feel most prepared for at the start of testing. After completing the 60 core questions, test-takers move on to the section that they chose. Students cannot take both exams on the same day. Students who are enrolled in AP Biology and are experiencing a high degree of success are prepared for certain topics in the exams, but will be responsible for covering additional topics independently to completely prepare for the exams. Students who are considering taking these exams should consult with their teacher to discuss their preparation.
This SAT Subject Test assesses the student’s understanding of general chemistry at the college-preparatory level. The one-hour exam is composed of 85 multiple choice questions. Students are tested on their understanding of the major concepts of chemistry and the ability to apply principles to solve specific problems. They must demonstrate an ability to organize and interpret results obtained from experimental data, including data presented in graphic form, tabular form or both. Students should also be prepared to demonstrate their familiarity with the metric system of units, their ability to handle simple algebraic relationships and apply these to solving word problems, and their familiarity with the concepts of ratio and direct and inverse proportions, exponents and scientific notations. This test includes approximately five questions that ask students to evaluate two related statements based on equation balancing and/or predicting chemical reactions. Students who are enrolled in AP Chemistry and are experiencing a high degree of success are prepared for certain topics in the exams, but will be responsible for covering additional topics independently to completely prepare for the exam. Students who are considering taking this exam should consult with their teacher to discuss their preparation as there are additional topics that students will have to independently prepare for to be successful in the examination.
The SAT Physics Subject Test measures the student’s ability to recall and understand the major concepts of physics, and their ability to apply physical principles to solve specific problems. Major topics include mechanics, electricity and magnetism, waves, heat, kinetics, and thermodynamics, and modern physics. The test also addresses their understanding of simple algebraic, trigonometric and graphical relationships, as well as the concepts of ratio and proportion, and how to apply all of these topics to physics problems. Finally, the Physics Subject Test assesses the student’s familiarity with the metric system of units. This one hour exam has 75 questions and consists of two parts. Part A contains 4 groups of 2 to 4 questions that relate to a single situation and Part B has individual or groups of questions. Students who are enrolled in an AP Physics course with a high degree of success are somewhat prepared to take this exam. Additional topics would have to be studied independently by the student, which include Kepler’s laws, electromagnetic induction (Faraday’s law, Lenz’s law, and Maxwell’s equations), relativity, and contemporary physics (astrophysics, superconductivity, and chaos theory). Students who are considering taking this exam should consult with their teacher to discuss their preparation.
The SAT Subject Test in Literature
The SAT Subject Test in Literature assesses students’ ability to read and interpret literature. The exam covers poetry, prose and drama, in English and American literature from the Renaissance period to the present. There is no reading list for the Literature test. It is recommended that students interested in taking this exam do so at the end of junior year if enrolled in an AP English class.
The SAT Subject Tests in Social Studies
U.S. History and World History
The College Board offers subject tests for both United States History and World History. The expectations for the U.S. History and World History Subject Tests loosely align with the concepts, content, and skills reflected in the New York State instructional framework for social studies, and/or the AP course requirements. Therefore, additional study is required outside of school. The anticipated skills necessary are, familiarity with terminology, cause-and-effect relationships, geography and other data necessary for understanding major historical developments. Additionally, a grasp of concepts essential to historical analysis and an ability to use historical knowledge in interpreting graphics are required. It is strongly recommended that students, who intend on sitting for the exam, are in the process of completing a comprehensive course on the AP level in either U.S. History or World History prior to embarking on a comprehensive review of concepts, content, and skills needed to succeed on the U.S. History and/or World History SAT subject tests.
The SAT Subject Tests – Foreign Language
The following subject Tests are offered in Foreign Language:
Chinese with Listening
French with Listening
German with Listening
Japanese with Listening
Korean with Listening
Spanish with Listening
Both types of exams evaluate students’ knowledge of vocabulary and grammar through reading in the target language and answering multiple choice questions. The exams with listening include an additional component to assess listening comprehension. Exams with listening are only offered once a year, in November. Students typically report being most successful on the more comprehensive exam with listening. Students must bring an acceptable CD player with earphones to the Language with Listening Subject Tests.
*The Subject Tests in Foreign Language are recommended for students who have completed course work through the fourth level in a particular language. Additionally, students with an extensive knowledge of a language not taught in school, or multilingual students should be amply prepared to take these exams.