The SAT Subject Tests (formerly known as the SAT II) are exams created by the College Board® to measure a student's knowledge of particular academic areas. The exams are required by some competitive colleges and universities as an additional way to compare high-achieving students across schools and regions by using a single, standardized test. There are 20 different SAT Subject Tests in five major areas of study.
SAT Subject Test Basics
The SAT Subject Tests are offered six times per academic year. Currently the test is offered in October, November, December, January, May and June; however, starting in the 2017-2018 school year the January date is scheduled to be eliminated in favor of an early offering in August. Some subjects are only available on certain testing dates.
Each SAT Subject Test in one hour long. Students can choose to take between one and three tests on a single testing date.
Registration for an SAT Subject Test date costs $26. Each exam costs an additional $20 a piece except language exams with a listening section, which cost an additional $26 each. Low-income students can apply for a fee waiver.
The SAT Subject Tests are offered in many locations across the country and around the world. Testing centers are typically located in high schools, though not every center is open on all possible test dates. To find a testing center, search online by zip code and test date.
A free College Board account is required to register for the SAT Subject Tests online. Online registration requires the ability to upload a photo that meets strict standards - a passport-type photo will work well. It's also possible (and in some cases required) to register by mail.
What Is On the SAT Subject Tests
The SAT Subject Tests are multiple choice exams. The types of questions and content covered vary depending on the subject.
How the SAT Subject Tests Are Scored
Each SAT Subject Test is scored on the same 200-800 point scale used by the standard SAT. The language exams with a listening section also report sub-scores for reading and listening, each of which is scored on a 20-80 point scale.
Unlike the standard SAT, incorrect answers on the SAT Subject Tests are penalized. Students lose a fraction of a point for every incorrect answer; the exact percentage depends on the number of options in a particular multiple-choice question. There are no penalties for a question left blank, so random guessing is discouraged on the SAT Subject Tests.
Retaking the SAT Subject Tests
The College Board now offers Score Choice, which allows students to choose their best overall score for each SAT Subject Test to send to college admissions departments. Students are not required to send all Subject Test scores taken on the same date. SAT Subject Test retakes are not averaged together; however, students can choose to send all of their scores to colleges to show improvement over time.