Skip to main content

Subject Tests cover a wide range of subjects and are more akin to A levels – while still, amazingly, being multiple choice. Each one lasts an hour and you can take up to three different subjects at the same sitting (but not on the same day that you take the SAT Reasoning test or the ACT). Most of the better US universities will require two of these, though many students will have three, just to show off.

The SAT Subject tests are more clear-cut than their A level equivalents, much shorter, and involve less preparation for Brits who are used to concentrating on one subject at a time.

Most students take the Subjects when they are at the peak of their knowledge of the subject (e.g. after an AS-level course). The exception to this plan is if you plan to take a Subject Test in one of your GCSE subjects and won’t be studying it at A-level; in this case you may want to take the SAT Subject Test soon after your GCSE course is done. 

If your university requires you to take the Subject Tests, check with them to see how many and if there are required subjects you must sit (or if you have free choice in what to take, which is more common).

The score range for each test is 200 to 800.

Which Subject?

There are twenty Subject Tests including: Literature, US History, World History, Math Level 1, Math Level 2, Biology E/M, Chemistry, Physics, French, French with Listening, German, German with Listening, Spanish, Spanish with Listening, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Japanese with Listening, Korean with Listening and Chinese with Listening.

Check the registration website early in the process; not all of the languages are offered for every sitting.  Also, in some of these languages the standard will be set by US native speakers, and in others the curriculum may not be what you have covered in the UK – so do your homework. 

The SAT Subject tests are based on curricula and subject matter taught in US schools, which can make it difficult to pin down suitable SAT Subject Tests. For example, an A level Biology syllabus may have a very different focus from that of high school AP biology.

History presents even more of a problem – Tudors and Stuarts have little place even in the World History exam.

Your best bet may to go for the English literature exam and the Math 1, since there is some overlap with the material covered on the general SAT test. It is also useful to do a language exam (though the questions may be more grammatically based than you are used to). 

Here’s another reason to consider a language Subject test: many universities have a foreign language requirement, and sometimes a high enough score on the Subject Tests will enable you to skip the university course. Taking French, Spanish, or even Latin can help you kill two birds with one stone.

Preparing for the tests

Before you choose your SAT Subject tests, you can see a summary of the content and some sample questions on collegeboard.org. Once you decide on a subject, the best way to prepare is by taking several sample tests. There are study guides and resource websites for each subject so you can work through these in your own time at home. You will find a multitude of them listed in the Reference Section and on Amazon.co.uk.

by

by

Related articles


  • The typical European university

    The prototypical University of Europe exists as a collection of old, pretty buildings sprinkled through the historic centre of your average, fairy-tale European town, indistinguishable from all the other buildings around them but for a discreet plaque by the door.

  • Exchange students and integration

    Europe is the land of exchange. It seems like every student in the world who wants to take a year or term out to study abroad descends on Europe with high hopes of self-discovery and Broadening of Horizons. Within the continent itself, the ERASMUS program generates thousands of criss-crossing exchangers every semester.

  • Six things you need to know about uni in Europe

    If you want to escape our Island, why look further than across the channel?

  • The Bologna Process explained

    You'll see mention of the Bologna Process cropping up in a number of our European uni write-ups; it matters to you for all kinds of reasons if you want to study in one of the 47 countries that have now signed up to it. Simon Sweeney's explanation of this fairly complicated new educational development is the clearest and most succinct we've seen.

  • Uni in Germany

    Germany’s educational reputation is perhaps the best in the world after the US and UK. The snag is that all international students must pass stringent German language tests to study at most good universities in Germany. This has lead to the bizarre contradiction that the country is among the most popular destinations for exchange students, but one of the least popular for full degree-taking students.


Subscribe for instant access to in-depth reviews, data and catchment:

Comprehensive catchment maps for English state schools inc. year of entry.
 School exam results by subject and performance GCSE, Alevel or equivalent.
 Which schools pupils come from and go onto.
 Honest, opinionated and fearless independent reviews of more than 1,100+ schools.
 Overall school performance by GCSE, Alevel or equivalent.
 School data comparison by A/B weighted, relative success and popularity.
 Compare schools by qualities and results.
 Independent tutor company reviews.

Try before you buy - The Charter School Southwark
 

The Good Schools Guide subscription

 GSG Blog >    In the news >

Newsletter

Educational insight in your inbox. Sign up for our popular newsletters.

This month 'Breducation'


The Good Schools Guide: Boarding Schools. Our newest book, available now - boarding for the 21st century.