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Differences Between SAT and SAT Subject Tests

Now that May is almost here, students are beginning to prepare--and even take--their AP and IB exams. This means that the season of the SAT II, or SAT Subject Tests, is upon us.
SAT II? SAT Subject tests? What is SAT I? How is this SAT different from that SAT? What do AP/IB exams have to do with any of this?
All valid questions, and ones I am happy to answer.
The SAT test that most colleges require you take, the so-called “main” SAT, also goes by the name SAT I. Then there is a second set of tests, SAT Subject Tests, that are also called SAT II.
SAT I, Redesigned SAT, New SAT: Critical Reading & Writing, Math, and (optional)
SAT II, SAT Subject Tests: 21 different subject tests, including mathematics, science, history, English, and foreign languages.
The reason that AP and IB exams figure into when students take SAT Subject Tests is that SAT Subject Tests and AP/IB exams share many content areas (and often even have similar formats). So students who have been preparing for, say, the APUSH exam can also take the SAT Subject Test for U.S. History.
The real question is, what exactly should you expect to see on these SAT Subject Tests, and how do they differ from the redesigned SAT? Look no further than these handy graphics:
Comparing the SAT and SAT Subject Tests
Descriptions of individual subjects for SAT Subject Tests
Why would anyone take SAT Subject Tests? Depending on which college you’re applying to, you may be required to submit 1-3 scores--typically ones related to your desired major. In other cases, the scores aren’t required, but they can help round out your college application and highlight your dedication to a particular subject. Here are a few different listed requirements:
Rice University (requires two SAT Subject tests):
Stanford University (not required but welcomed):
University of Chicago (not required but may be helpful):
The verdict? If you’re required to take the Subject Tests, then it’s a no brainer, and if you plan on applying to Ivy League or Top-Tier universities, then it will most likely be required for at least one of those schools. If you want to boost your application, then it definitely helps to have a couple Subject Tests listed in your score report. And you know what’s great about subject test? You can miss several questions and still get a perfect 800 score. So there is less stress with preparing and taking the test.
Since May is the month to prepare for the SAT Subject Tests, we at B2A are happy to assist anyone with getting ready for the big day in June. We have tutors for most subject areas, so let us help you get another shining star of a score to add to your college application!

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