Highly competitive colleges often require applicants to submit two to three SAT Subject Tests. The reason why these tests are important is because they allow college admissions counselors to level the playing field for applicants. A student at Stuyvesant in New York who got an A in AP Chemistry may well have a very different SAT Subject Test score in chemistry than a student who also got an A in chemistry at his/her high school in Oregon.
Choosing the right SAT Subject Tests can prove significant in your college admissions outlook. Let’s say you’re a student who got an A in AP Chemistry and a 4 on the AP exam. And you always get an A in English and anticipate doing very well on your AP English Literature exam. You’re considering taking the SAT Subject Test in Chemistry. But you already have a great Mathematics Level 2 Subject Test score and a great Biology-Molecular Subject Test score. So you just want a third strong score. Should you take the SAT Subject Test in Literature or Chemistry?
It’s easy to say that you should take both but, the fact is, you’d have to then prepare for both when it might be better at this point to focus only 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, take the SAT Subject Test in Chemistry.
The average scores are not consistent across all SAT 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. The Chemistry SAT Subject Test is thus an opportunity for you to shine. On the SAT Subject Tests in which the average scores are high, the student can get more questions wrong than on say, the SAT Subject Test in 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.
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