The SAT French Subject Test

Part I


1    Introduction

2    General Strategy

Chapter 1


You have chosen to take the SAT French Subject Test, and now it is time to demonstrate all you have learned during the course of your advanced study. This book will help you understand the format of the SAT French Test and will give you all the tools you need to do your best.

This book is divided into four parts. Part One gives you an orientation of the French Subject Test and reveals some basic strategies. Part Two gives you the format for each section of the test and reviews key grammar and vocabulary words. Part Three contains answers and explanations for the drills found in Part Two. Part Four contains two practice SAT French Subject Tests along with answers and explanations for each test.

What Are the SAT Subject Tests?

They are a series of one-hour exams developed and administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and the College Board. The SAT Subject Tests are designed to measure specific knowledge in specific areas. There are many different tests in many different subject areas, such as biology, history, French, and math. They are scored separately on a 200–800 scale.

How Are SAT Subject Tests Used by College Admissions?

Because the tests are given in specific areas, colleges use them as another piece of admissions information and, often, to decide whether an applicant can be exempted from college requirements. A good SAT French score might place you in second-year French instead of first-year French, or exempt you from a foreign language requirement altogether.

Should I Take the SAT Subject Tests? How Many? When?

About one-third of the colleges that require SAT scores also require that you take two or three Subject Tests. Your first order of business is to start reading those college catalogs. College guidebooks, admissions offices, and guidance counselors should have this information as well.

As to which tests you should take, the answer is simple:

1.    those Subject Tests that you will do well on, and

2.    the tests that the colleges you are applying to may require you to take

The best possible situation, of course, is when the two overlap.

Some colleges have specific requirements; others do not. Again, start asking questions before you start taking tests. Once you find out which tests are required, if any, part of your decision making is done. The next step is to find out which of the tests will highlight your particular strengths.

Possibilities range from math, English literature, U.S. or world history, biology, chemistry, and physics to a variety of foreign languages.

As to when you should take the tests, schedule them as close as possible to the corresponding coursework you may be doing. If you plan to take the SAT Chemistry Subject Test, for example, and you are currently taking chemistry in high school, don’t postpone the test until next year.

When Are the SAT Subject Tests Offered?

In general, you can take from one to three Subject Tests per test date in October, November, December, January, May, and June at test sites across the country. Not all subjects are offered at each administration, so check the dates carefully.

How Do I Register for the Tests?

To register by mail, pick up The Paper Registration Guide for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests at your guidance counselor’s office. You can also register at the College Board website at This site contains other useful information such as the test dates and fees. If you have questions, you can talk to a representative at the College Board by calling 1-866-756-7346.

You may have your scores sent to you, to your school, and to four colleges of your choice. Additional reports will be sent to additional colleges for—you guessed it—additional money. Scores are made available to students via the College Board’s website. To find out about the timeline of when scores are made available, please visit

A Couple of Words About Score Choice

The good news about the SAT Subject Test is that you can choose which test scores you want colleges to see. Why is this such good news? Well, if you take more than one SAT Subject Test on a given test date, you’ll be able to choose which tests from that date you’d like to submit to colleges. So if, for example, you take the French test followed by the chemistry test, but don’t think the chemistry test went very well, you can simply opt out of having that chemistry score sent to your schools.

The score reporting policy will be optional for students. This means that you aren’t required to opt in and actively choose which specific scores you would like sent to colleges. If you decide not to use the score-reporting feature, then all of the scores on file will automatically be sent when you request score reports.

For more information about the score-reporting policy, go to the College Board website at

What’s a Good Score?

That’s hard to say, exactly. A good score is one that fits in the range of scores the college of your choice usually accepts or looks for. However, if your score falls below the normal score range for Podunk University, that doesn’t mean you won’t get into Podunk University. Schools are usually fairly flexible in what they are willing to look at as a “good” score for a particular student.

Along with your score, you will also receive a percentile rank. That number tells you how you fit in with the other test takers. In other words, a percentile rank of 60 means that 40 percent of the test takers scored above you and 60 percent scored below you.

What Is The Princeton Review?

The Princeton Review is a test-preparation company founded in New York City. We have branches across the country and abroad. We’ve developed the techniques you’ll find in our books, courses, and online resources by analyzing actual exams and testing their effectiveness with our students. What makes our techniques unique is that we base our principles on the same ones used by the people who write the tests. We don’t want you to waste your time with superfluous information; we’ll give you just the information you’ll need to get great score improvements. You’ll learn to recognize and comprehend the relatively small amount of information that’s actually tested. You’ll also learn to avoid common traps, to think like the test writers, to find answers to questions you’re unsure of, and to budget your time effectively.

You need to do only two things: trust the techniques, and practice, practice, practice.

The College Board publishes a book called The Official Study Guide for all SAT Subject Tests with practice exams for all 20 SAT subjects offered. You can also go to the College Board website for more information and practice questions. After you have worked through the review chapters and completed the practice tests in this book, try out your new skills on real SAT Subject Test questions.

What Makes This Book Different?

Most prep books for foreign language tests are written by academics who ramble on about the subtleties of the syntax of their chosen languages. Their cups runneth over with more rules about grammar than you could ever absorb in a limited period of time. Most of all, they take more interest in teaching you French with a capital F than in preparing you for the particular challenges of this test. Rather than waste your time rehashing every tedious rule of grammar, we’ll cover only those points needed to get you a good score on the test. We want you to study effectively. What you do with your French on your own time is your business.

Some prep books can harm you more than help you by misleading you about the types of questions or by giving you so much to review that you don’t know where to begin or what’s most important. In more than 20 years of test-prep experience, we’ve learned what you truly need to know to score your best.

What Is the SAT French Subject Test?

You can choose to take one of the two French Subject Tests: French or French with Listening. While the French Subject Test is generally offered on every SAT Subject Test date (except November), French with Listening is given only in November. It has an additional audio portion, which evaluates your ability to comprehend spoken French. You listen to a recording and answer multiple-choice questions. If you intend to continue your French language study, this is useful for placement purposes. You are not tested on your speaking or writing ability on either of these tests.

Will Slang or Casual Expressions Be Included on the Test?

Only authentic and widely accepted French language is used on the test. The SAT French is testing what should have been taught in a minimum of two years of regular French study in high school. Of course, the more you study, the better your scores will be.

What Does It Test?

The SAT French tests vocabulary, reading comprehension, and a few points of grammar. A strong vocabulary will help you score well on the Vocabulary and Reading Comprehension sections. Our review groups words by category for easier recall and gives you tips for learning vocabulary.

You can’t master all of the
French language in a few
weeks or even a month.
Focus on the vocabulary
and grammar that helps
you on the test.

As you probably know, French grammar is complex, but the SAT French Subject Test requires you to know only a small portion of all grammar. You do not need to know spelling, where the accents go, or correct word order in a sentence. You don’t need to know how to conjugate the passé simple or the imperfect of the subjunctive. We’ll review only those points of grammar that serve you best on the test.

Now for the Good News

In the scheme of standardized tests, the SAT French Test isn’t all bad. Any standardized test provides you with a wealth of opportunity. Wouldn’t you rather take a test in which you can use the Process of Elimination and guessing techniques than walk into a room and speak to a French person? By using an approach that has been developed over the years at The Princeton Review, you’ll have the confidence and the ability to ace the SAT French Subject Test.

How Is the SAT French Subject Test Scored?

The scoring system for the SAT French Test is similar to that for the SAT. You are given a raw score based on the number of questions you got right minus one-third of a point for every wrong answer. The raw score is then converted to a scaled score ranging from 200 to 800.

Your SAT French score may
be used to place you into
the appropriate level of
French class in college. If
you score well, you may be
able to take fewer semesters
of language class. If
you score really well, you
may be exempted from
the language requirement

How Will I Improve My Score?

Unfortunately, reading through this book may not be enough. It is important that you apply our techniques during the practice sections so that our approach will be second nature when you take the actual test.

Read one section of the book at a time and immediately apply what you have learned to the practice section that follows it. Then, carefully read through the explanations, looking for patterns in the mistakes that you made. If you notice that one type of question or topic is giving you trouble, go back and review the relevant section. Finally, before taking the diagnostic test at the back of the book, review both the general test-taking strategies and the specific question strategies. Again, after taking the test, notice where your mistakes were, and use that information to adjust your pacing and intensify your review.

Although this book can
be used alone, you may
find it handy to have a
French/English dictionary
and a grammar book available
as references while
you read through the text.
Don’t use them on the
practice tests, though!

This book is designed to help you focus on those points that will help you score higher. It assumes that you have a basic French vocabulary and a rough grasp of grammar. The grammar section highlights the rules that are actually tested, giving you a concise explanation of each rule and examples of test questions. If you are someone who likes detailed explanations, you may want to have your school grammar book handy to use alongside this review book.

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