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SAT Subject Tests

Subject Tests are the standardized tests you take after you've taken the SATs. They're actually part of the Scholastic Aptitude Test family, having been known as SAT IIs not long ago. Subject Tests are designed to test your knowledge and skills in particular subject areas which may not have been covered in the SATs, like Biology and Modern Hebrew.

Fortunately, there aren't many colleges that require you to take that Modern Hebrew test.  Some schools do ask that you submit your scores as part of an application, but most use your Subject Test as a college placement test for entering into introductory courses. If you struggled on your SATs, taking Subject Tests in fields of study you're proficient in can help lessen the blow that may come your way as a result of those poor SAT scores.

The majority of SAT Subject Tests across the country are taken during students' junior and senior years of high school. It's generally advised that students planning to take a specific Subject Test do so promptly after completing a related class. Don't wait two years after you took biology to take its related Subject Test; do it while the material's fresh in your head.

College Placement Subject Tests

There are five different types of Subject Tests:

  • History: U.S. History, World History
  • English: Literature
  • Mathematics: Mathematics Level 1, Mathematics Level 2
  • Science: Biology E/M, Chemistry, Physics
  • Languages: Chinese with Listening, French, French with Listening, Spanish, Spanish with Listening, Modern Hebrew, Latin, Italian, Japanese with Listening, Korean with Listening


Every Subject Test is administered over a one-hour period.  The format for each test is multiple-choice and in most cases all you'll need to bring are those trusty No. 2 pencils.

However, there are three exceptions:

  • Biology E/M. This one's interesting because you actually have to make a choice before you even take the test. All students taking Biology E/M choose between taking the Ecological test or the Molecular test, with the format for each being the same: 60 general-knowledge multiple-choice questions followed by 20 multiple-choice questions that pertain to the particular test you're taking.
  • Mathematics Levels 1 and 2. You'll also need to bring along a scientific or graphing calculator.
  • Language Tests with Listening Sections. Those taking language tests with listening sections are allowed to bring in an approved CD player with earphones to handle the listening section.

SAT Registration for Subject Tests

SAT subject test registration is easy; you can register through your school or online at the College Board. Through either channel you'll be able to choose the time and place that best fits your schedule. You'll also have the opportunity to arrange for your scores to be sent to the colleges of your choosing.

If you miss the standard SAT registration period, you can be put on standby registration, which doesn't guarantee you admission into the test but still allows you the possibility that a space may open up. 

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