Introduction to the SAT II
Introduction to the SAT II
The SAT 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.
The Good
  • 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 on them.
  • 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.
The Bad
  • 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.
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