Cracking the SAT Subject Test in Chemistry, 16th Edition
The SAT Subject Tests are one-hour exams that assess a student’s knowledge of a particular academic subject. Not all colleges require the subject tests, and some subject tests are more appropriate for certain students than for others. The format and content of a given test falls within certain guidelines, and you should prepare accordingly. In this chapter, we will answer some basic questions about the SAT Subject Test in Chemistry and how you should prepare for it.
WHAT ARE THE SAT SUBJECT TESTS?
The SAT Subject Tests are a series of tests administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS). Unlike the regular SAT, the SAT Subject Tests are designed to measure knowledge in very specific areas. Many colleges require that you take one or more of these tests in order to qualify for admission; but even at colleges that do not require that you take them, administrators view student performances on the tests as an important factor that contributes to the decision to grant or withhold admission. Additionally, at some schools, a high score on one or more of the tests might enable you to “place out” of certain required college courses. For example, if you do well on the SAT Subject Test in Chemistry, you might be exempt from fulfilling the science requirement at one or more of the schools to which you’re applying!
Which SAT Subject Tests Should I Take?
The colleges that do require you to take the SAT Subject Tests will expect you to take two or three of them. In order to find out which tests are required by the colleges to which you’re applying, you can ask your guidance counselor, call the admissions office of the colleges, or check in college guidebooks. Alternately, you can visit the College Board website at sat.collegeboard.org and use their college search engine to look up the colleges you’re interested in; each school on this search engine has a profile in which this information is provided. Once you find out which, if any, tests are required, part of your decision making is done. The next step is to find out which of the tests will show your particular strengths. After all, the SAT Subject Tests are given in a variety of subjects: Literature, U.S. History, World History, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, French, German, Spanish, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and English Language Proficiency. You should take the tests on which you think you’d score the highest. If you’re fluent in Chinese, take the SAT Subject Test in Chinese. If, however, you’re most comfortable in the world of moles, atoms, and titrations, take the SAT Subject Test in Chemistry.
When Are the Tests Offered, and How Do I Register for Them?
The SAT Subject Tests are usually administered in October, November, December, January, May, and June at test centers around the country. Since not all of the tests are offered at each administration, be sure to check the dates and details on the College Board website carefully. You’ll want to take the test on a date that’s as close as possible to the end of your coursework in the subject. For example, if your chemistry course ends December 21, take the January test. If it ends in May, take the test in May or June—whichever date falls the soonest after your course has ended.
You can register for these tests either through the College Board website or through regular mail. To register by mail, ask your guidance counselor for the appropriate forms, which you’ll need to mail in by the date listed on the College Board website—generally about five weeks before the test. You can register late, but late registration ends about four weeks prior to the test week and will cost you an additional fee. The costs of registering for an individual SAT Subject Test are $21 for the first test and $10 for any additional test.
You’ll need to arrive at the test center pretty early—by 8:15 A.M. Your first test will begin promptly at 8:30 A.M., and since each test is an hour long, if you take the maximum of the three tests that you’re allowed to take at each sitting, you’ll be done by 12:30 P.M. If you’re taking just one or two tests, you can leave as soon as you’ve finished.
One final, but important, note—ETS allows you to change your mind about what test you’d like to take on the test day. This means that if you aren’t sure which test you’ll feel more confident taking, you can study up until test day and then make your decision at the last moment.
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