Ask A Nerd!

Question: What Are The SAT Subject Tests And When Should I Take Them?

Brief: The SAT subject tests are a way for students to demonstrate their talent and/or knowledge in a particular topic. Most tests are offered several times per year in the US (help prepare for them with one of our Irvine SAT tutors).


The SAT examines your skills in math, reading and writing. But many students find that this is not a true indicator of their true talents and wish to show colleges that they have additional knowledge in other subject areas. This is where the SAT subject tests come in (READ: “Are the SAT and ACT similar?“).

Some of you are already pretty sure of what you want to study once you get to college. If you know that you want to study foreign languages, then taking several language subject tests can demonstrate your commitment. On the other hand, if you feel that the core subjects (math and English) are not your strongest areas of study, then you have the opportunity to take exams in subjects such as history or science (our Orange County science tutors are here to help you succeed).

For students who are planning to apply to college with an “undecided” major, taking subject tests can help demonstrate knowledge in several areas as well as demonstrate a commitment to education at the high school level (READ: “5 Traits of Successful Students“).


So, when can and when should you take the SAT subject tests? The basic SAT test, as many of you already know, is offered early in the morning several times a year. Students wishing to take the SAT subjects can take these extra exams on the same dates but not during the same test administration. The College Board allows students to take up to three subject test in the same day; however I do not recommend this.

It is important to think about how tired you will be after even one exam. You may find that you will sacrifice a high score on your second or third subject test due to eye fatigue, restlessness, or simply general fatigue. Even the most confident and concentrated of students should call it a day after two exams.

So where, exactly, can you showcase your talents on these subject tests?

They are divided into three categories: Core subjects, non-core subjects and languages. The core subjects include literature and mathematics level 1 and level 2 (READ: “Use Your Math Intuition“). The non-core subjects include world history, US history, chemistry, physics and biology (ecological and molecular). All of these exams can be taken on October 11th, 2014, November 18th, 2014, December 6th, 2014, January 24th, 2015, May 2nd, 2015, and June sixth, 2015 with the exception of world history, which can only betaken in December or June.

The language tests include: French, German, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Latin and Spanish (reading only test). Each of these exams has differing test dates. The reading and listening exams include: Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean and Spanish. This test can only be taken on November 8th, 2014 – TutorNerds has the best foreign language tutors in Orange County.

SAT-Test-SubjectsThe SAT subject tests require a lot of hard work and much time spend studying diligently. If these tests help you get closer to your dream college, then it is well worth it, but I highly recommend that you check with the colleges and universities that you are thinking of applying to before signing up for one of these exams. Make sure that you are taking the right exams in order to meet your specific goals.

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