SAT Subject Tests: Five Tips

Remaining SAT Subject Test Dates for 2018: May 5, June 2, August 25, October 6, November 3, and December 1.

Student at lesson

Subject Tests are one-hour tests that are designed to assess academic readiness for college. SAT Subject Tests focus on very specific subject areas such as Math (level 1 or 2), Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Literature, United States History, World History, Spanish and more. While SAT Subject Tests are often seen as tests for only those applying for admission to elite universities, every student wanting to go to a four-year college could benefit by taking at least three SAT Subject Tests. Why? Because there is no downside and lots of upside. Many students find the SAT and ACT very challenging and do not score as well as they would like. Some of those same students excel in specialized subject matter such as Physics or Literature and can get really high scores on the SAT Subject Tests. Taking Subject Tests represents an opportunity for those students to show colleges something special, beyond what can be deduced from SAT or ACT scores alone. The best part is, there is no downside since score reporting is optional.

Registration deadlines for the spring dates are fast approaching. Students can choose to take one, two or three SAT Subject Tests during each date. SAT Subject Tests cannot be taken on the same day as the SAT. See a complete schedule of SAT Subject Tests here. For more information, call 480-990-7374.

Here are five tips for students taking the SAT Subject Tests this spring:

Tip 1: The College Board allows test takers to take up to three SAT Subject Tests in a single testing day. Students should always take full advantage of the testing schedule by taking three tests in a single sitting. It's only a couple of extra hours and the cost is nominal.

Tip 2: As long as students register to take three exams, they can take any three they want, in any order with the exception of Language with Listening, regardless of which ones were previously indicated on the registration form. Since registration closes months in advance of the test, students may change their mind last minute based on the successes or difficulties they've had while preparing.

Tip 3: Students should strategize in advance the order in which they want to take what tests. If students tend to be nervous when tests begin, they should consider taking the most important test in the second hour. If not, take the most important exam first, followed by the next most important and then the least important.

Tip 4: Most colleges will consider only your highest scores. It is extremely advantageous to retake a test on a different date if not happy with the original score. By taking the tests in groups of three, there is plenty of opportunity to attempt a higher score or try a new subject. SAT Subject Tests, along with the SAT, are offered in May and June, then again in October, November, December and January.

Tip 5: For some students, taking SAT Subject Tests in May, followed by the SAT in June, is better. In Arizona, most students will be out of school by Memorial Day, thus they can concentrate on studying for the June SAT This strategy is not right for every student, but for some it could result in better overall test scores.

At Vogel Prep in Scottsdale, we run FREE SAT Subject Test practice tests by appointment. If any of your students are considering taking a Subject Test and would like to figure out which to take or whether they need to prepare for them, have them call to register for a FREE SAT Subject Test. Each test takes one hour and will be scored right away. These are administered Monday through Friday by appointment ONLY. Contact us at

Ellie Vogel

Vogel Prep Educational Services, 13951 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ, 85254