SAT Subject Tests: The Oft-Overlooked (Yet Equally Important!) Tests

By Haley Buchan


When thinking about standardized testing for college applications, we tend to focus on the SAT and ACT. However, many colleges require SAT subject tests results and often weight them just as much as the other exams! SAT subject tests are designed to test your knowledge in specific areas, such as biology or U.S. History.


Here are some top tips for how to study for SAT subject tests:

  1. Take as many as you’re prepared for. It’s generally a good idea to take the test for each subject you’ve covered. A lot of the material overlaps with AP test material, so if you’ve taken an AP class you should take the SAT subject test for that class. If the test-taking cost is prohibitively high, you may be able to get financial aid from your high school.

  2. Take diverse tests. SAT subject tests are offered in twenty different subjects ranging from biology to Spanish to English literature. Colleges generally require two or three tests, and this is a great opportunity to show them you’re a well-rounded student. Try to send one test in a humanities subject and one in a STEM subject (for example, Math II and French).

  3. Take advantage of study resources. The CollegeBoard website offers free practice tests as well as summaries of what is on each subject test, so definitely make sure to peruse the site. Additionally, there are many subject test prep books that have summaries of test material to study as well as self-diagnostic practice tests.

  4. Study the test’s specific content. Once you’ve gathered your study resources and determined what is actually on the test, study that specific material. SAT subject tests are designed to be “knowledge” based instead of “skills” based, which means they focus on specific content.

  5. Make a study plan. Set up a plant for when and how you’re going to study, and be sure to build in time to take at least two practice tests for each subject. For more study tips, check out study habits of successful students!

Haley Buchan is an economics and math major and French minor at Georgetown University.

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