Colleges and the SAT II Subject Tests
We’re guessing you didn’t sign up to take the SAT II just
for the sheer pleasure of it. You probably want to get into college,
and know that the only reason for taking this test is that colleges
want or require you to do so.
Colleges care about SAT II Subject Tests for two reasons.
First, the tests demonstrate your interest, knowledge, and skill
in specific subjects. Second, because SAT II tests are standardized,
they show how your knowledge of U.S. History (or Biology or Math)
measures up to that of high school students nationwide. The grades
you get in high school don’t offer such a measurement to colleges:
some high schools are more difficult than others, and students
of equal ability might receive different grades, even in classes
with relatively similar curriculum.
When it comes down to it, colleges like the SAT IIs because
the tests make the colleges’ job easier. SAT II tests allow colleges
to easily compare you to other applicants, and provide you with
an excellent chance to shine. If you got a 93% on your History final,
and a student at another high school across the country got a 91%,
colleges don’t know how to compare the two grades. They don’t know
whose class was harder or whose teacher was a tougher grader. But
if you get a 720 on the SAT II U.S. History, and that other kid
gets a 650, colleges will recognize the difference
in your scores.
Occasionally, colleges use SAT II tests to determine placement.
For example, if you do very well on the SAT II U.S. History, you
might be exempted from a basic history class. It’s worth finding
out whether the colleges you’re applying to use the SAT II tests
for this purpose.