Test Prep

3 SAT Subject Test Tips

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Preparing for an SAT Subject Test is similar in many ways to the work you've done for the SAT, ACT or even APs: You can't expect to ace them without considering the timing, the structure and the material. Here are three tips to consider if you're planning to take an SAT Subject Test.


Be Aware of Testing Dates

Sure, it might sound like the SAT and SAT Subject Tests go together. (I wouldn't blame you for thinking you could knock both tests out with one stone!) But the first thing you should note about scheduling these tests is that, while you can take up to three SAT Subject Tests on the same day, you cannot take any of them on the same day as the SAT itself.

Since each Subject Test is just an hour long, many students choose to take more than one at a time simply to get them over with rather than spreading them out. Do keep in mind that not all Subject Tests will be available on any given testing date, though, so be sure to read the schedule carefully to determine when the tests you need are available. Once you settle on a date, decide whether you can — and want to! — fit more than one test into the same administration or not.

Consider Your High School Coursework

Since these tests are meant to fall in line with courses from your high school curriculum, I recommend taking the appropriate test as close as possible to the end of the corresponding class. Say you're wrapping up AP Chemistry. You'd be wise to choose the date either right before or right after the end of the course to take the Chemistry Subject Test in order to utilize the concepts and material that are still fresh in your mind. Waiting will only risk your memory of that content depleting.

This is the biggest difference between the Subject Tests and the regular SAT: Subject Tests test, well, a specific subject — otherwise they wouldn't be called Subject Tests! — whereas the SAT merely tests how well you take the SAT. Because of that, you want to time each test to take advantage of the hard work and studying you've been putting in all year.

Review Both Strategy and Content

Subject Tests are multiple-choice just like the SAT, ACT and AP, which means many of the same strategies you use to score well on those tests can be applied here as well. Techniques like Process of Elimination and Personal Order of Difficulty can be useful in maximizing your score on any multiple-choice exam.

On the flip side, while the format of the tests may be similar, each Subject Test will have its own types of questions and directions. Furthermore, the number of questions and scoring scale differ from test to test, so your pacing plan will vary depending on the test and your score goals. Therefore, just like you wouldn't walk into the regular SAT unprepared, you shouldn't walk into a Subject Test without doing a little prep beforehand! SAT Subject Test prep books can be a great way to get both strategies for the test and an in-depth subject review. You can also take advantage of practice tests and review drills to be sure you're ready to go on test day.

If you're still debating between which SAT Subject Tests to take — or if you'll take any at all! — check out this guide to help you decide. Keep in mind that, unlike the SAT, your performance in high school courses can offer great insight into which Subject Tests you might suit you the best.