SAT 2016

CHAPTER 1

ATTACKING THE NEW SAT: TWELVE FAQs

  10 WHEN AND HOW OFTEN SHOULD I TAKE THE SATs AND SUBJECT TESTS?

Most competitive colleges require either SAT or ACT scores from all of their applicants, although some schools are “test-optional,” allowing you to choose whether or not to submit your standardized test scores with your application. Many competitive colleges also require two or three Subject Test scores. The Subject Tests are hour-long tests in specific subjects like mathematics, physics, chemistry, foreign languages, U.S. history, world history, and literature.

If you want to be able to apply to any competitive college in the country, plan to take the SAT at least twice, as well two to four SAT Subject Tests, by the end of spring semester of junior year, and retake any of those tests, if necessary, in the fall of your senior year. This way, you will have a full testing profile by the end of your junior year, and you’ll have a much clearer picture of where you stand before you start your college applications. Also, if you plan well, you will have some choices about which scores to submit.

Even if your favorite colleges don’t require standardized tests, you may be able to submit them anyway to boost your application. The Subject Tests, specifically, can provide a strong counterbalance to any weaknesses in your grades. For instance, a strong chemistry Subject Test score can offset a poor grade in chemistry class.

Take your Subject Test when the subject material is fresh in your mind. For most students, this is in June, just as you are preparing to take your final exams. However, if you are taking AP exams in May, you might prefer to take the SAT Subject Tests in May, also. Learn which SAT Subject Tests your colleges require, and try to complete them by June of your junior year. You can take up to three SAT Subject Tests on any test date.