The SAT IIs are not a substitute for the SAT I. Most selective colleges require applicants to take the SAT I and one or more SAT II examinations. Unlike the SAT I, these exams are designed to test students' knowledge in specific high school subjects. For example, the SAT II American History and Social Studies Test contains questions only related to the relevant subject matter.
This test is given in a great range of subjects. These are the subjects in which the SAT II tests are offered:
- English Literature
- English Writing (includes a writing sample)
- American History & Social Studies
- World History
- Modern Hebrew
- Math Level I -- covers elementary and intermediate algebra and geometry
- Math Level IIC -- covers elementary and intermediate algebra, geometry, and either trigonometry or precalculus
Most selective colleges require taking one or more of these tests because SAT II tests allow the applicant to demonstrate aptitude in specific academic subjects. Requirements for specific schools should be checked. These tests are about one hour long, and a student may take a maximum of three tests at one sitting. However, taking more than two tests in one sitting is not a good idea because of the diversity of subjects and the difficulty of the tests. Like the SAT I, the SAT IIs are scored on an 800 point basis. At least two of these tests, usually one math test and one English test, are required by many colleges.
The basic knowledge needed for the SAT II: Subject Tests is primarily gained in high school classes. These tests are designed to measure how well a student understands what is taught in school. However, extracurricular preparation for these tests is also necessary because most classes do not cover all of the subjects on the test. Private preparatory courses are offered for these exams, and preparatory books are readily available in bookstores. The following are tips for taking the SAT II:
- Getting an A in a class does not a guarantee a high score on that respective SAT II test. These tests need to be prepared for!
- Students should take the respective SAT II test directly after a course is taken. Otherwise, students forget much of the material taught to them during the course.
- Due to the difficulty and variety of the tests, students should never take more than two tests in a sitting unless they are up against admissions deadlines.
- Most colleges recommend taking three SAT IIs for admissions, including Math I or Math IIC, English Writing, and one other test of your choice. Because the student is allowed a choice in their last test, make sure to play to your strengths. Take only SAT II examinations in subjects that you feel you are most capable in.