First, you need to understand your colleges’ specific requirements. Do they want to see one, two, or three subject tests? Are you applying to technology schools that want you to showcase your achievement in math and science? Or are you aiming for liberal arts schools that want to see a range of academic knowledge, including both literature and math?
More often than not, selective colleges prefer the latter – they like to see that you possess a diversity of knowledge across various domains.
More and more colleges are adopting test optional and test flexible policies, which offer you the option of sending Subject Test scores in place of the general SAT or ACT. If you feel that these specialized tests could better represent your skills and abilities, then you may want to take advantage of these flexible policies.
Finally, some schools use the SAT Subject Tests for placement purposes, like in a language level once you arrive on campus, or to make up for lower than desired SAT scores. Research your college of interests’ approaches by checking out their admissions website or calling their admissions office and speaking to an officer directly.
It will help your application to leave no stone unturned, and most admissions officers are happy to help and will appreciate your detail-oriented approach
Once you’ve figured out what your colleges require, you need to figure out which tests will most strengthen your application.
The SAT Subject Tests are a chance for you to demonstrate subject mastery, that you know a subject really well and have devoted a good deal of time to learning all about it. The subject tests are less about general reasoning skills and more about specific knowledge of content, whether it’s in Math, Biology, Chemistry, Spanish, or U.S. History, among many others.
Since you’re demonstrating your knowledge in a particular subject, you have to ask yourself:
What do I know well?
What have I studied?
What classes have I excelled in?
Do you love reading and writing and have always been excited to go to English class?
Then the Literature test is likely for you. Do you immerse yourself in understanding the natural world and have taken at least one year of Biology in high school? Then you should direct yourself toward the Biology Subject Test.
Within these subjects, there may be variations of tests among which to choose. For example, there are two versions of the Biology Subject Test, one with an ecological focus and another with a molecular focus.
Math offers Level 1 and Level 2, and some Language Tests offer Listening and non-Listening options. For a more detailed explanation of the various formats of the Subject Tests, check out this article. (Coming soon)
So once you have your subject chosen, you may have to decide where your knowledge is most specialized.
Are you more interested in populations and energy flow or cellular division and photosynthesis?
Are you confident with trigonomety and pre-calculus or do you prefer to leave those subjects off the test, as in Level 1 Math?
Are your listening skills extremely strong in your understanding of another language?
By understanding where your knowledge is specialized, you’ll be able to narrow down your choice to the right subject and the right format.
Finally, if you have taken and feel you excelled in several subjects, then you should ask yourself which subjects you felt most connected to and interested in.
Like with the rest of your college application, your choice of Subject Tests communicates something about you to admissions officers.
It indicates your own unique interests, interests that you might pursue further in college. So if you’re having trouble narrowing down your choices, consider which subjects you like the most and want to highlight in your applications.
If you have a sense of what you would like to study in college or what professional field you want to pursue, then you might want to take a Subject Test related to that area.
If you’d like to study engineering, for example, then the Math and Physics Subject Tests could demonstrate your relevant interest and talent. If you’re gearing up for pre-med, then the Biology Subject Test is a good bet.
As mentioned above, liberal arts schools, especially the selective ones, often like to see diversity in your choice of tests, one from the humanities and another from math or sciences. So make sure you ask for advice from the school as to what scores and tests will most impress them in your application.
Another consideration when choosing a Subject Test is how students score on average. A low average score may suggest the test is particularly challenging. If scores show a large standard deviation, then it means that students scored across a broad range.
Overall, students show very high averages on the Math Level 2, Chinese with Listening, and Korean with Listening tests, meaning you have to very confident and prepared to take these tests as you’ll be compared with highly achieving students
BY DR.AHMED EZZAT TEAM
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