Oh yes, the SAT IIs, or single subject tests, are a real thing and you need to be real informed about them. That's where I come in. Allow me elaborate...
SAT II tests are one hour tests covering just one subject. There are 20 tests to choose from: everything from physics, to English, to history, to different areas of math. The question is, should you (or your student) take one?
Who should take the SAT II:
Some of the more selective colleges and universities require the SAT II (usually two tests). Check out your schools admissions requirements page to find out if you will need to take one. Even if your school doesn't require the test, it might still be a good idea for you to take it. SAT IIs are wonderful opportunities to augment your application. If you know you are strong in chemistry, taking the SAT II can be a good way to showcase that to a college. All college prep level courses are considered sufficient preparation for an SAT II exam. If you have excelled in a given area at the high school level in a course that is college prep level or more advanced, the SAT II is a great opportunity to show that off.
When should I take the SAT II?
I generally advise students to take the SAT II in May, along with their AP exams (or other end of the course exams if not in an AP course). The material needs to be fresh in your mind in order for you to perform your best, so May is a natural time to make that happen.
How many SAT IIs should I take?
Each test is only an hour, and you can sit for multiple tests in the same day, but I don't recommend trying more than two tests at a time. You probably won't want to take more than three, total, no matter how many you take in one sitting. There's no need to take more than three as colleges who require it require three at max.
Is there a downside to taking the SAT II?
Taking the test and performing poorly is a blemish on an application, and one that is hard to sweep under the rug. If you have struggled in a course, don't attempt the SAT II just for the sake of taking it. Stick to courses in content you have mastered. A score in the 600s or higher looks good. Anything below that is more of a detriment than a help to your quest for admission to your dream school.
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