SAT II Subject Tests

SAT is of two types:

  • SAT Reasoning
  • SAT II Subject

SAT Subject test is required by most of the colleges operating in some specialized field of study. Engineering and Life science colleges are common examples. These colleges require subject test Subject Tests for two reasons. First, the tests demonstrates your interest, knowledge, and skill in specific subjects. Second, because subject tests are standardized, they show how your knowledge of a particular subject is comparative to the other high school students nationwide. The grades or divisions you get in high school don’t give an idea of your ranking in comparison to the students of other regions in the same country.

LUMS accepts the score of SAT Subjects as well as of its own test SSE.

The number of SAT - II subjects is more than 200 disciplines. In Pakistan, this number is almost limited to Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics.

Colleges and the Subject Tests

Colleges like the subject tests because they make the college’s selection of applicants job easier. The subject tests allow colleges to easily compare one applicant to other applicants. On the other hand, it also provides an opportunity to the applicant to show his skill and knowledge. If you get a 93 in a physics class, and a student at another high school across the country gets a 91, colleges won’t necessarily know how to compare the two grades. They don’t know whose class was harder or whose teacher was a tougher grader. But if you get a 720 on the subject test Physics and that other kid gets a 670, colleges will recognize the difference in your scores.

SAT subject tests are not required at the majority of colleges and universities in Pakistan. However, some of the country's best colleges -- LUMS, for example -- do require two or more SAT subject tests. There are thousands of colleges in the United States that require the SAT subject test. Many other schools recommend the SAT subject tests, and higher scores will certainly strengthen an application.

Do you need to take the Subject Test

In some cases, you'll have to take some subject tests. For every college to which you're applying, see their admissions criteria for your desired subject. Some college departments will require specific subject tests.

You must think:If you have choice, then only take the SAT Subject Tests you can perform better. If you're weak in Mathematics and it isn't required, don't take the test. Your score may give an unfavorable impression to the admissions commettee if you don't do well, and that's definitely something you don't want to do!

Which subject test to Take

All SAT subjects are not required by the targeted college. The requirement of SAT subject directly dependent on your intended field of study. If you are applying for an Engineering degree, the college may require you to take SAT Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. In this view of selecting which subject is to take, there are three types of subject tests:

  • The subject tests you must take are those that are required by the colleges in which you are interested to have admission.
  • The subject tests you should take are those that aren’t required, but that you’ll do well on them, thereby impressing the colleges looking at your application.
  • The subject tests you shouldn’t take are those that aren’t required and that cover a subject about which you don’t feel confident.

Determining Which subject tests are Required

You’ll need to do a bit of research to find out if the colleges you’re applying to require that you take a particular subject test. Call the schools you’re interested in, look at their websites, or talk to your guidance counselor. Often, colleges request that you take the following subject tests:

  • Writing Test
  • One of the two subject test Math Tests (either Math IC or Math IIC)
  • Another subject test in a subject of your choice

Not all colleges follow these guidelines, you must consult their admission department for guidance about which test they do require.

Determining Which Additional subject test to Take

There are two rules of thumb for making a descion about which additional test to take other than the Writing and Math tests:

  1. Select your strong area If Biology is your strong area go for it rather than to take physics and have poor score.
  2. Try to show breadth. Scoring well on Math, Physics, and Chemistry tests will not be as impressive as good scores in Math, Writing, U.S. History, and Physics.

Of course, you also have to know what is considered a good score on that subject test, and whether you can get that score (or higher). Below is a list of the most popular subject tests and the average scaled score on each. For most schools, a score that is 50 points above this average will significantly boost your college application strength. If you are applying to an elite school, you may need to aim closer to 100 points above the average.

TEST AVERAGE SCORE
Writing 590-–600
Literature 590–600
U.S. History 580–590
World History 570–580
Math IC 580–590
Math IIC 655–665
Biology 590–600
Chemistry 605–615
Physics 635–645

What to do

It’s a good idea to take three tests that cover a range of subjects, such as one math subject test, one humanities subject test (History or Writing), and one science subject test. However, taking more than three subject tests is probably not necessary.

Many institutes require Subject tests along with General test (SAT Reasoning) that measure general ability or reasoning.

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