Preparing for College

Is the SAT the Same as the SAT I?

Question: I have seen references to the "SAT" test and the "SAT I" test. Is this the same test or are they completely different tests? My daughter is taking the SAT June 5th. I saw on a college web site that they require the "SAT I" test. Are we signed up for the wrong test?

Fear not. It sounds like your daughter has signed up for the test she needs to take. The College Board offers two types of college-entrance exams, their "Reasoning Test," (which includes sections on "Critical Reading," Math, and Writing) and their "Subject Tests." (These are a series of hour-long exams that are offered in 20 different subjects. Some colleges --including many of the more selective ones--require two or even three Subject Tests, but at most institutions they are optional. Students can take up to three Subject Tests in a single test session but they cannot take the Reasoning Test and Subject Tests on the same day.)

A decade or so ago, the official name for the Reasoning Test was the "SAT I" and the official name for the Subject Tests was the "SAT II." Although the College Board no longer uses those terms, many students, parents, and educators have hung onto them. So as you navigate the maze ahead, you will often find that "SAT," "SAT I," and "SAT: Reasoning Test" will be used interchangeably. Likewise, you'll hear the Subject Tests called the "SAT II" (or, if you encounter old-timers like myself, you'll even hear the Subject Tests called "Achievement Tests," since that was their name back in the Sixties, when I was in high school).

Even if your daughter is not applying to any colleges that require the Subject Tests, they can still be a good way to show off strengths in areas not covered by the Reasoning Test (science, foreign language, history). Admission officials will use the scores if your daughter sends them, and sometimes these can help offset so-so SAT I's.

But, for now, I suspect that your daughter has signed up to sit for the right SAT. ;-)