to the SAT II
II Subject Tests are created and administered by the
College Board and the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the two
organizations responsible for producing the dreaded SAT I (which
most people call the SAT). The SAT II Subject Tests were created
to act as complements to the SAT I. Whereas the SAT I tests your
critical thinking skills by asking math and verbal questions, the
SAT II Subject Tests examine your knowledge of a particular subject,
such as Writing, U.S. History, Physics, or Biology. The SAT I takes
three hours; the Subject Tests take only one hour.
In our opinion, the SAT II Subject Tests are better tests
than the SAT I because they cover a definitive topic rather
than ambiguous critical thinking skills that are difficult to define. However,
just because the SAT II Subject Tests do a better job of testing
your knowledge of a useful subject doesn’t mean the tests are necessarily
easier or demand less studying. A “better” test isn’t necessarily
better for you in terms of how easy it will be.
- Because SAT II Subject tests cover actual
topics like U.S. History or Biology, you can study for them effectively.
If you don’t know a topic in U.S. History, such as the factors leading
to the Louisiana Purchase, you can look it up and learn it. The
SAT II tests are straightforward tests, which means that if you know
your stuff, you will do well on them.
- Often, the classes you’ve taken in school have already
prepared you well for the test. If you’ve taken a U.S. history course,
then you’ve probably already covered most of the topics that are
tested on the SAT II U.S. History test. All you need to do well
on the test is to get some refreshing and refocusing, which this
- In studying for the History, Biology, or Chemistry
SAT II tests, you really are learning History, Biology, and Chemistry.
In other words, you are learning valuable, interesting knowledge.
If learning is something you enjoy, you might actually find the
process of studying for an SAT II test worthwhile and gratifying. It’s
hard to say the same about studying for the SAT I.
- Because SAT II subject tests quiz you on
specific knowledge, “beating” or “outsmarting” an SAT II test is
much harder than outsmarting the SAT I. For the SAT I,
you can use all sorts of tricks or strategies to figure out an answer.
There are far fewer strategies to help you on the SAT II. Don’t
get us wrong: having test-taking skills will help
you on an SAT II, but knowing the subject will help you much, much
more. In other words, to do well on the SAT II, you can’t just rely
on your quick thinking and intelligence. You need to study!