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 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
Physics, Writing, U.S. History, or Biology. The SAT I takes three
hours; the Subject Tests take only one hour each.
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. However, just because the SAT
II Subject Tests do a better job of testing your knowledge of a
useful subject doesn’t mean they 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 specific
topics like Physics and Biology, you can study for them effectively.
If you don’t know a topic in physics, such as how to deal with an
inclined plane problem, you can look it up and learn it. The SAT IIs
are straightforward tests: if you know your stuff, you will do well
- Often, the classes you’ve taken in school have already
prepared you well for the SAT IIs. If you took a course in physics
and did well, you probably covered most of the topics that are tested
on the SAT II Physics Test. All you need is some refreshing.
- Because SAT II Subject Tests quiz you on
specific knowledge, it is much harder to “beat” or “outsmart” an
SAT II test than it is to outsmart the SAT I. For the SAT I, you
can use all sorts of tricks and 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 test, 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.