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If you’ve found this article, you probably already know what the “original” SAT test is for.

But – do you need an overview and brief explanation of what the SAT 2 Subject Tests are, and why you’d ever need to take them?

In this post, I break down the basics of the SAT 2s, covering;

  • What the SAT 2 Subject Tests are
  • Who needs to take these tests
  • How much SAT 2 testing will cost
  • When the best times are to take the SAT Subject Tests and why
  • How to register for the SAT 2s

Who needs to know about SAT 2 tests:

This article about SAT 2 Subject Tests are most relevant to the following types of student:

  • Students applying to selective colleges, universities, and scholarships
  • High-achieving students in high school
  • Students and parents that don’t know anything about SAT 2 tests yet
  • Students that want to add a minor boost to their college applications
  • Students that want to emphasize a particular academic strength in a subject

What are SAT 2 Subject Tests?

The SAT 2 Subject Tests are shorter, 1-hour-long standardized tests that cover material from specific high school classes.

I highly recommend ordering the Official Guide to SAT 2s, a book which contains the content and practice for all SAT 2 Subject Tests in one book from the official testmakers.

The 20 available subject tests, broadly speaking, break down into Literature, History, Sciences, and Languages.

These tests are used in the college admissions process to provide more information about a student’s academic abilities.

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What’s the difference between the SAT and SAT 2 Subject Tests?

Well, there are several major differences:

  • SAT 2 tests are much shorter than the SAT 1- about 1 hour vs. almost 4 hours
  • SAT 2 tests are based much more on “content knowledge” instead of “reasoning” – which means less “tricks” on the SAT 2
  • The SAT 2s are more similar to “normal tests” given in actual high school classes
  • SAT or ACT scores are often mandatory for college applications; SAT 2 scores are frequently optional/extra

How much do the SAT 2 Subject Tests cost?

A student can take up to three subject tests in a single testing day. There is a flat rate of about $23 per test day, plus $12 per test (up to three).

Language tests with listening sections are significantly more expensive.

What colleges have SAT 2 Subject Test requirements?

Generally, the more famous or selective the college or scholarship is, the more likely they are to require or “strongly recommend” submitting SAT 2 scores.

It is common for two different subject scores to be requested in order to demonstrate well-roundedness in a student’s academic studies.

Often, either the Math 1 or Math 2 test is expected to be one of the two tests taken.

Specific college requirements can change year-to-year and you must check them each individually on a case-by-case basis.

However, here is a good starting list of colleges that require SAT 2 Subject Tests.

When should I take my SAT 2 Subject Tests?

Here’s an important suggestion that can make your SAT 2 experience vastly easier:

Try to take your SAT Subject Tests in June of your Junior year.

This is when your “content knowledge” (i.e. your memory of what you learned in school) will be the absolute highest and you can use the Official SAT Subject Tests Guide to study and practice the content as well.

If you wait until senior year to take the subject tests, you’ll not only be more stressed (because you have less time before your deadlines)…

Waiting till senior year also means you’ll probably forget a huge amount of material over the summer.

Am I too late to take my SAT Subject Tests?

If you’re too late to register for June test dates, or you’re already a senior and just realized you need SAT subject tests, my suggestion is to call each college with a deadline that you’re concerned about and explain your situation.

Most small to medium sized colleges will bend over backwards to help a qualified and respectful applicant.

One option they may offer is for you to send your application with the understanding that SAT 2 Subject Test scores will follow as soon as they are taken and graded.

You might end up taking the SAT 2s in October, November, or even December, but despite these late test dates, some colleges won’t refuse your application.

The best thing to do is get in touch ASAP with the admissions departments of each college by phone or by e-mail.

Be sure to order The Official Study Guide for All SAT Subject Tests!

Further Reading:
SAT 2s: The SAT You Might Not Know About
How to Succeed on SAT 2 Subject Tests
What is the SAT 1 Test for?
How to Get Into College: The Complete Guide

Additional Resources:
The Official Study Guide for All SAT Subject Tests
Winning College Scholarships for High Schoolers (Video Course)

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