SAT Subject Tests

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SAT Subject Tests are 20 multiple-choice standardized tests given by the College Board on individual subjects. They are typically taken to improve a student's credentials for admission to colleges in the United States.

Many colleges use the SAT Subject Tests for admission, course placement, and to advise students about course selection. Some colleges specify the SAT Subject Tests that they require for admission or placement; others allow applicants to choose which tests to take. Students typically choose which tests to take depending upon college entrance requirements for the schools to which they plan to apply. From their introduction in 1937 until 1994, the SAT Subject Tests were known as Achievement Tests, and until January 2005, they were known as SAT II: Subject Tests. They are still commonly known by these names. Every test is now a one-hour timed test. Historically, the exception to the one-hour time was the writing test, which was divided into a 20-minute essay question and a 40-minute multiple-choice section. The writing test was discontinued in January 2005.

A student may take up to three SAT Subject Tests on any given date at a flat rate. There is a per-administration registration fee of $26, plus a flat fee of $22 ($26 in the case of language tests with listening) for each test the student plans to take.[1] Students aren't required to take the same number of tests they signed up for, nor are they required to take the same tests they initially indicated when filling out the registration form (except for language with listening tests).[2] If one takes more tests than initially paid for, he/she will be billed later for the additional test(s). Students eligible for an SAT fee waiver are allowed to take up to six subject tests in up to two administrations free of charge.[3]

With the exception of the March test administration, SAT Subject Tests are offered on the same days as the regular SAT Reasoning Test; therefore, students cannot take both the SAT Reasoning Test and Subject Tests on the same day. In addition, not all Subject tests are offered on every test date. Most non-foreign language tests are offered in every administration, but World History and foreign-language tests are only available on certain dates. In particular, the language tests with listening are available only once a year, in November.

Typically, the subject tests are administered in August, October, November, December, May, and June. A calendar of test dates and registration deadlines can be found on the College Board's official website.[4]

Current tests[edit]

There are currently 20 different tests, 12 of which are foreign language. Examinees are required to bring an acceptable calculator to take the Mathematics tests (calculators are not permitted on any other test), and a CD player to take the language with listening tests.[5][6][7]

Test Subject Mean score (2016)[8] Standard deviation (2016)[8] Number of Students (2016)[8] Notes
SAT Subject Test in Literature Literature 599 122 57,761
SAT Subject Test in United States History U.S. History 624 115 66,967 Formerly American History and Social Studies
SAT Subject Test in World History World History 615 109 15,542 Formerly European History and World Cultures
SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 1 Mathematics 599 116 66,058 Formerly Math I or IC. Basic algebra and geometry such as monomials, polynomials, and the Pythagorean theorem are assessed in the beginning of the exam before progressing into basic trigonometry, algebraic functions, elementary statistics and a few miscellaneous topics.[9]
SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 2 Mathematics 690 101 145,140 Formerly Math II or IIC. Consists of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, functions, statistics and a few miscellaneous topics.[10]
SAT Subject Test in Biology E/M Biology 616 (E)

647 (M)

114 (E)

110 (M)

72,196 in total,
31,965 (E)
40,231 (M)
Students have a choice of taking either an ecological ("E") or molecular ("M") biology oriented test.
SAT Subject Test in Chemistry Chemistry 668 104 71,173
SAT Subject Test in Physics Physics 667 104 56,751
SAT Subject Test in Chinese with Listening Chinese 761 66 4,925
SAT Subject Test in French French 634 121 6,800
SAT Subject Test in French with Listening French 664 113 1,533
SAT Subject Test in German German 636 124 621
SAT Subject Test in German with Listening German 629 121 479
SAT Subject Test in Modern Hebrew Modern Hebrew 614 145 344
SAT Subject Test in Italian Italian 677 114 488
SAT Subject Test in Japanese with Listening Japanese 704 116 1,317
SAT Subject Test in Korean with Listening Korean 764 64 1,891
SAT Subject Test in Latin Latin 632 109 2,483
SAT Subject Test in Spanish with Listening Spanish 660 108 2,914

Previously offered tests[edit]

These were discontinued after January 2005 when the SAT II in Writing was incorporated into the SAT.

Scoring and admissions[edit]

Each individual test is scored on a scale of 200 to 800; however, some of the tests are scored on such generous curves that it is impossible to get a 200; for example, if someone gets every question wrong on the Mathematics Level 2 test, he/she might receive a score of 310; it all depends on the version of the test.[11] The one and only exception was the ELPT, which was scored on a scale of 901 to 999.

Prior to the first administration of the new SAT Reasoning Test (which includes the writing section) in March 2005, some highly selective colleges required applicants to take three SAT Subject Tests, including the writing test and two other tests of the applicant's choosing, in addition to the SAT. However, with writing now a standard component of the SAT Reasoning Test, most selective colleges recommend applicants to submit scores for any two SAT Subject Tests. Engineering schools may recommend or require Chemistry or Physics and Math Level 2.[12][13][14][15][16] No schools require three Subject Tests and Georgetown is the only remaining school to 'strongly recommend' taking three Subject Tests.[17]

The California Institute of Technology, which previously required subject tests, no longer requires them and does not consider them even if they are submitted.[18]

Schools also vary with regard to their SAT Subject Test requirements of students submitting scores for the ACT in place of the SAT: some schools consider the ACT an alternative to both the SAT and some SAT Subject Tests, whereas others accept the ACT but require SAT Subject Tests as well. Information about a school's specific test requirements can typically be found on its official website.

In October 2002, the College Board decided to drop the "Score Choice" option for exams, due to the fact that it disproportionally benefited wealthier students taking the exam who could afford to take it multiple times. Score Choice means that scores are not released to colleges until the student approves the score after seeing it.[19] However, the "Score Choice" option was reinstated as of the March 2009 test, meaning test takers again have the ability to choose whether or not to send scores.[20]

Answer sheet[edit]

The answer sheet has room for 115 answers; however, no test has more than 95 questions. 1–100 are standard multiple-choice bubbles and 101–115 are for 'relationship analysis questions', which are only used for the chemistry exam. The biology test is the only test to use answers 96–100; questions 1–60 are common to both the E and M tests, in addition, the E uses 61–80, and the M uses 81–100.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ SAT Subject Test Fees, College Board
  2. ^ "U.S. Registration".
  3. ^ "SAT Fee Waivers". Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  4. ^ "Test Dates and Deadlines". SAT Suite of Assessments. 2015-12-30. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
  5. ^ "Test Day Checklist". Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  6. ^ "Calculator Policy". Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  7. ^ "CD Player Guidance". Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "SAT Subject Tests Percentile Ranks 2016 College-Bound Seniors" (PDF). The College Board. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
  9. ^ "Math 1 - SAT Subject Test Math Level 1 Practice Questions".
  10. ^ "Math 2 - SAT Subject Test Math Level 2 Practice Questions".
  11. ^ Real SAT Subject Tests
  12. ^ "Prospective Freshman FAQ". Berkeley Engineering. University of California – Berkeley. Retrieved 16 October 2013. Engineering applicants are also strongly encouraged to take the SAT Subject Test in Math Level 2 and a SAT Subject Test in science (Biology E.M., Chemistry or Physics) in order to be as competitive as possible.
  13. ^ "Standardized Test Requirements & Policies". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 16 October 2013. CIT: Carnegie Institute of Technology / Two SAT Subject Tests: Math Level I or II, Physics or Chemistry
  14. ^ "Instructions & Preparation". Duke University. Retrieved 16 October 2013. Applicants to the Pratt School of Engineering who take the SAT must take one SAT Subject Test in Mathematics (level 1 or level 2). Applicants to the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences who take the SAT may take any two SAT Subject Tests.
  15. ^ "Tests & Scores". Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Retrieved 16 October 2013. In addition, we require two SAT Subject Tests: one in math (level 1 or 2), and one in science (physics, chemistry, or biology e/m). We do not have a preference as to which science you take or which level math you take.
  16. ^ "Stanford: FRESHMAN APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS, 2013 – 2014" (PDF). Stanford University. Retrieved 16 October 2013. SAT Subject Tests: ...Recommended but not required
  17. ^ Safier, Rebecca (2 August 2018). "Complete List: Colleges That Require SAT Subject Tests". PrepScholar. Complete List: Colleges That Require SAT Subject Tests
  18. ^ "Standardized Tests". Caltech. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  19. ^ Schoenfeld, Jane (24 May 2002). "College board drops 'score choice' for SAT-II exams". St. Louis Business Journal.
  20. ^ "Score Choice™: SAT Score-Reporting Policy". College Board.

External links[edit]