The Easiest SAT Subject Tests
Since its inception in 1926, the SAT has been a cornerstone of the U.S. college application process, and while more colleges are making the test optional, it’s still a major piece of the puzzle for any college applicant. Similar to the GMAT and GRE for grad school or the ISEE or SSAT for middle and high school, the SAT is an overall measure of critical thinking skills that helps college admissions counselors evaluate you outside of your GPA. The SAT Subject Tests, which allow you to demonstrate proficiency in specific subjects like Chemistry or Literature, are another important part of the admissions process.
The Strategy Behind SAT Subject Tests
While these tests help to provide a more objective measure of skill, they also introduce a new layer of strategy to the college application process. Choosing the right SAT Subject Tests can make a huge difference in how you look to a college admissions counselor — and consequently, your choice of subject impacts your admissions outlook. Here’s what we mean.
Let’s say you’re a student who got an A in AP Chemistry and a 4 on the AP exam. You always get an A in English, so you anticipate doing very well on your AP English Literature exam. Because you did well in AP Chem, you’re also considering taking the SAT Subject Test in Chemistry. But here’s the catch: you already have a great Mathematics Level 2 Subject Test score and a great Biology-Molecular Subject Test score. Ultimately, you just want a third strong score.
So — should you take the SAT Subject Test in Literature or Chemistry?
Even the Easiest Tests Take Practice
At first blush, it’s easy to say you should just take both. But think about it: that means you’d have to prepare for both, which means twice as much time making study guides, taking practice tests, and working on your test prep. If you already have two strong scores, you’re likely better off focusing solely on succeeding on one. The fact is, while a great score on the SAT Subject Test in Literature would show your breadth of talents across subject matters (you’d then have SAT Subject Test scores in math, literature, and science), if you find the Chemistry Subject Test easier, you should take it.
It’s also important to consider context, as average scores vary widely across the different Subject Tests. For instance, on the SAT Subject Test in Literature, the average score is a low 580, while on the SAT Subject Test in Chemistry, it’s a 638. Chemistry is a test that precludes a number of students as so many students find the subject matter difficult. This makes the Chemistry SAT Subject Test a perfect opportunity for you to shine. On tests like this, where the average scores are high, you can get more questions wrong than on a test like Literature and still get a great score well into the 700s!
Incidentally, the same is true of many of the SAT Subject Tests in language. In Chinese with Listening, for instance, the average score is a 763. Students who take this exam are typically fluent in Chinese. Maybe the students were born in China or their parents speak Chinese at home. The average score for the SAT Subject Test in Korean with Listening is high as well, with the same average of 763. And it’s not as though the colleges care about the average scores — they care about your scores, and if they’re high, you’ll improve your chances for admission to a highly selective college.
At the end of the day, what matters is to be strategic in your choice of Subject Test. The fact of the matter is, there is no one “easiest” SAT Subject Test — the right test will be different for every student, and it’s critical to make the choice in the context of your overall application.
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