How are SAT subject tests different from the SATs?
Students are often confused between SATs and SAT subject exams. Many colleges use the SATs and SAT Subject Tests as admissions criteria while evaluating an application. The major difference between SATs and SAT subject tests is that the former tests general knowledge and critical reasoning, whereas the latter deals with knowledge in specific subject areas like English Literature, History, Languages, and Science.
If you are wondering whether you can take SAT subject tests without studying for the SATs, then the answer is yes. A good performance in SAT subject tests gives your application form an edge over other students. It also helps in selecting or skipping first-year subjects, based on your performance.
If you are planning on applying to a selective college, you need to submit scores of at least two SAT subject tests. Students are advised to keep track of the colleges and their requirements. In some cases, the school might recommend a few subject tests. In these cases, you should take them, as they will increase your chances of admission.
The SAT subject tests can bolster the strengths and interests for the application of your dream college. For example, students with an inclination towards literary works can take the Literature Subject Test. Similarly, STEM majors and prospective doctors can take the Biology, Chemistry or Physics tests.
Details of SAT Subject Exams
SAT subject tests should be taken just after finishing the corresponding high school classes. For instance, the SAT Literature test should be taken after completing the AP English Literature course, as the details of the course will still be fresh in your mind.
The SAT subject test is a multiple-choice exam, but each subject has its own question types and directions, which requires a preparation approach different from the SAT. One thing to keep in mind is that subject tests may involve material from the entire curriculum. So, for entering the Spanish Subject Test, it is recommended to revise and work on 3 to 4 years of previous high school Spanish.
One cannot take a SAT subject test and the SAT exam on the same day. But one can enter up to three subject tests, in one sitting. Even on the day of the test, you can change the number of tests or the subject(s) you want to take, without attracting any penalties, except for the language exams with a listening test. Also, only one Biology test can be taken per test date, as some questions are the same for biology-ecology and biology- molecular tests.
Should you skip the SATs?
Even though you can take SAT subject exams without the SAT exam, it is recommended to prepare and sit for the SATs, as most of the schools require an SAT score. It is a universal test that helps colleges differentiate between students with different educational backgrounds or regions easily.
Also, by taking the SAT exam, you can apply to schools which accept only the SAT score. Often SAT subject tests act only as a supplement to the application to show prowess or interest in a particular subject area.