An Overview of the SAT Subject Tests

By Peterson's Staff updated on Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sometimes still called SAT 2, SAT ii, or SAT Achievement Tests, there are currently 20 SAT Subject Tests. Each an hour long, these standardized tests consist of a series of questions designed to measure your knowledge of a specific subject, as well as your ability to apply that knowledge. Your SAT Subject Test scores are required by some colleges for admission and/or placement in freshman-level courses. They can also be used to supplement your college application with demonstrated achievement in one or more subject areas. You should check with your prospective college(s) to find about their specific testing requirements.

The Subject Tests fall into five general categories: English, foreign language, history, mathematics, and science, and strive to reflect what is currently taught in high schools across the United States. The currently available tests are: Literature, U.S. History, World History, Math Level 1, Math Level 2, Biology E/M, Chemistry, Physics, Chinese with Listening, French, French with Listening, German, German with Listening, Spanish, Spanish with Listening, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Japanese with Listening, and Korean with Listening.

Some SAT Subject Test dates are limited

Though each test is given multiple times each year, the actual test dates vary by subject. If they are offered at your test center, you can take your SAT Subject Tests on the same day you take the regular SAT, which is sometimes called the SAT I. Your school counselor should be able to give you more information, or you can visit the College Board Web site for specific information about dates for each of the tests. You may take up to three SAT Subject Tests on one day.

SAT Subject Tests are probably administered in a location near you

Tests are generally given at high schools, though other test centers may be used. Each test location must meet minimum standards to assure a proper test environment, testing security, and the availability of appropriate facilities. Your school counselor should be able to tell you more about test locations, but the College Board Web site will have the most current information. Online registration will help you find the test centers close to you that are still open for registration.

What do the SAT Subject Tests cost?

To register for one or more SAT Subject Tests, you pay a flat rate of $20 plus an additional $9 for each Subject Test you take that day. Subject Tests that include a listening portion cost $20 per test instead of $9 each. If this is your first SAT Subject Test registration, you can register online or by mail. When registering online, you select your tests, test date, and test center in real time and get immediate confirmation of your registration. If your have previously registered for a Subject Test, you can register by phone. However, phone registration, late registration, standby registration, and subsequent changes to the type of test you are taking, the test center you are using, or the date you are being tested on will come with additional fees.

How are the SAT Subject Tests structured?

All of the SAT Subject Tests are one-hour long. They all contain multiple-choice questions and are machine scored, but some of the tests incorporate unique formats or features. Although none of the tests comprise more than 95 questions, you will record your answers on an answer sheet that accommodates 115 answers. The Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish Subjects Tests with Listening have a listening section. You must provide your own CD player and earphones for the listening section, but be sure the CD player meets the specification provided by the College Board on its Web site.

No more SAT 2 or SAT ii: the test name has changed

Though it is too late to register for any of the old forms of the SAT Subject Tests, you can register for upcoming test dates. Be kind to yourself by registering early so you get the date and location that will be most beneficial to you. After you have taken your Subject Tests, try to sit back patiently and wait for the arrival of your SAT Subject Test scores. It is likely that your hard work will pay dividends.

If you're looking to get further prepared for your tests, be sure to check out the free SAT practice test available here at Peterson's.

About the Author

Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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