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 one and only reason to take 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 demonstrates your interest, knowledge, and skill
in specific subjects. Second, because SAT II tests are standardized,
they show how your knowledge of physics (or biology or writing or
U.S. history) 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 curricula.
When it comes down to it, colleges like the SAT IIs because
they make the college’s job easier. The SAT IIs allow colleges
to easily compare you to other applicants and provide you with a
chance to shine. If you get a 93 in a physics class, and a student
at another high school across the country gets a 91, colleges won’t
necessarily 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 Physics and that other kid gets a
670, colleges will recognize the difference in
Occasionally, colleges use SAT II tests to determine placement.
For example, if you do very well on the SAT II Writing, you might
be exempted from a basic expository writing class. It’s worth finding
out whether the colleges you’re applying to use the SAT II tests
for this purpose.