Q&A about SAT II: Subject Tests

   
   
College Corner

Some Questions and Answers about College SAT II: Subject Tests

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Q.WHAT ARE THE CEEB SAT II: SUBJECT TESTS?
A. The College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) has developed standardized tests in many school subjects to measure the level of knowledge which students have acquired. Each SAT II: Subject Test (formerly the Achievement Test) is one hour in length and consists of a series of multiple-choice questions. You may take up to three SAT II: Subject Tests on a single administration date.
Q.HOW ARE THE SAT II: SUBJECT TESTS USED?
A. Many colleges require or recommend that applicants submit scores from three SAT II: Subject Tests in addition to scores from the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT I) which is normally taken in the junior and senior years. Some Colleges use the SAT II: Subject Tests scores as part of the evaluation process for admission, while other colleges use these scores to help place students in appropriate levels of various courses of study. At some selective colleges the Achievement Tests are even more important that the SAT I in the evaluation of applicants.
Q.WHICH SAT II: SUBJECT TESTS SHOULD I TAKE?
A. Most students take three SAT II: Subject Tests; those applying to the most selective schools generally take a Subject Test in any subject area where they expect to do well.

Colleges usually require Writing as one of the tests, but they allow students to choose the other two from a group of 16 different subjects. Most students take Math as their second Subject Test. The most commonly taken tests as additional (3rd choice) subjects are: Biology, Chemistry, American History, European History, French and Spanish.

Q.WHEN SHOULD I TAKE THESE TESTS?
A. If you are currently doing good work in a “terminal” course (i.e., a subject you will not continue studying next year, such as Biology, Chemistry, American History or high level French or Spanish), you may wish to consider taking the appropriate Subject Test this June while the subject is still fresh in your mind. Generally speaking, you should not take the Writing or Math tests until the spring of your junior year at the earliest.

Biology

If you are currently enrolled in biology, you might want to consider taking the Biology Subject Test this June. While there are always exceptions, in general you should be earning at least a “B+” average in your biology class in order to feel sufficiently prepared for this test.

The Biology Subject Test is a one-hour, multiple-choice examination designed to measure your knowledge in the following topics: cellular and molecular biology; organismal structure and function; classical genetics; evolution and diversity; and ecology. The test also includes questions that may require the interpretation of experimental data, understanding of scientific methods and laboratory techniques, and knowledge of the history of biology.

If you feel your knowledge of biology is very strong, if you tend to perform well on standardized tests, and if you wish to complete one of the Subject Test requirements you may eventually need for college admission, you should probably take this test. If, on the other hand, you do not believe you would perform at a reasonably high level on this test, we would suggest you not take it. There will be other tests, in other subjects, available to you as a sophomore, junior or senior. In addition, your score on the Biology Subject Test does become part of your permanent test record. Consult with your teacher if you are in doubt.

American History

If you are doing well (B+), you should seriously consider taking the American History Subject Test. Again, consult with your teacher if you are in doubt.

Q. SHOULD I TAKE AN SAT II: SUBJECT TEST IN A TERMINAL SUBJECT EVEN IF I AM NOT DOING ESPECIALLY WELL IN THE COURSE?
A. No. The Subject Tests are difficult. With rare exceptions, students should be achieving grades in the “B” to “A” range in any subject in which a Subject Test is taken. The best authority for advice on this decision is your current subject teacher.
Q. IF I TAKE AN SAT II: SUBJECT TEST THIS YEAR, CAN I USE IT AS ONE OF THE THREE TESTS REQUIRED BY COLLEGES LATER ON OR CAN I REPEAT IT LATER ON IF I WANT TO?
A. The answer to both of these questions revolves around the Score Choice Option. While you should approach each subject test as though you were going to take it only once, Score Choice (the option to hold your scores for up to a year before releasing them on your permanent test record) gives you, in effect, a second chance. We recommend that you use Score Choice for any subject test taken in ninth and tenth grade. If the subsequent score pleases you, release it. If not, hold the score and focus on the other Subject Tests to enhance your record. Consult Mrs. Lees if you are in doubt about what to do.

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Q.WHAT ARE THE “AP” TESTS?
A. AP stands for Advanced Placement. The AP Exams are given during school time in May of each year only to those students who are completing college-level work in their high school courses. A high score on the AP Exam can get you course credit or advanced standing in college. Keep in mind, however, that the AP Exams are NOT a substitute for the SAT II: Subject Tests required by so many colleges.
Q. WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED TO KNOW TO FILL OUT MY SAT FORMS?
A. You must fill out a registration form and send it, with a check for the testing fee, to the College Board in Princeton, New Jersey. Registration forms are available in the Office or from Mrs. Lees.