What are the SAT Subject Tests and why are they important?

SAT Subject Tests are one hour tests that focus on specific academic subjects. Many selective schools require you take at least one if not more SAT Subject Tests. Check with the admissions department of your prospective schools to learn more about their requirements. The best part about the Subject Tests is that in many cases you get to choose which ones you'll take, so you should pick the ones where you're strongest. 

What specifically do the SAT Subject Tests test?

It depends on the test. There are 5 content areas–Math, History, Literature, Science, and Languages. There are multiple tests in every content area except Literature.

More About Each Test


The Physics Subject Test measures your ability to solve specific problems with the application of physical principles. The test also assesses your understanding of simple algebraic, trigonometric, and graphical relationships, the concepts of ratio and proportion, and how to apply these concepts to physics problems.


The Chemistry Subject Test measures your ability to organize and interpret results obtained by observation and experimentation. The test also assesses your aptitude for drawing conclusions and/or making inferences using experimental data, including data presented in graphic and/or tabular form.


The Biology Subject Test assesses your understanding of general biology at the college preparatory level, your recall and comprehension of the major concepts of biology, and your ability to apply the principles learned to solve specific problems in biology.

Math Level 1

Tests: Algebra, geometry, basic trigonometry, Algebraic functions, elementary statistics, logic, elementary number theory, and arithmetic and geometric sequences.

Math Level 2

Tests: Algebra, three-dimensional and coordinate geometry, Trigonometry, functions, probability, permutations, combinations, logic, proofs, elementary number theory, sequences, and limits.

U.S. History

The United States History Subject Test assesses your familiarity with historical concepts, cause-and-effect relationships, geography, and other data necessary for interpreting and understanding major historical developments in U.S. History.

World History

The World History Subject Test measures your understanding of key developments in global history, your use of basic historical techniques and terminology, and your aptitude for the critical analysis and interpretation of documented events. To learn more about SAT Subject Tests, visit the College Board.


The English Literature Subject Test asseses how well you can read and interpret literature. Questions focus on issues of theme, argument, tone, etc.  It also tests you on rhetorical devices such as metaphors, similes, hyperbole, juxtaposition, and more.

Foreign Languages

All the foreign language tests measure a student's reading ability in a specific language. Beyond that, you can opt to take the foreign language tests called "Language with Listening,” which examine both reading and listening skills. Languages available for testing include: French, German, Spanish, Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

How are the SAT Subject Tests scored?

Each Subject Test is scored on a scale of 200–800.

How do I register for SAT Subject Test?

Similar to the SAT, you can register for SAT subject tests registration deadlines fall approximately 5 weeks before each test date.

How can I prepare for SAT Subject Tests?

We can help. We have prep solutions for every student and every budget.


DASA Scheme: Phy, Chem & Math II C
Direct Admission of Students Abroad (DASA) Undergraduate Entrance Exam:

Foreign Nationals/Persons of Indian Origin (PIOs)/Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) can apply to NITs, IIITs, and other top engineering colleges under the Direct Admission of Students Abroad (DASA) Scheme. Candidates who wish to apply through DASA need to take note of important details regarding DASA eligibility qualification requirements. The DASA Merit list is entirely based on highest scores obtained in three SAT Subject Tests: Physics, Chemistry and Math II C. For more information visit
At Princeton Review ME, we offer classroom courses and private tutoring for SAT Subject tests. All of our SAT Subject Test courses are limited to 15 students in order to create an intimate learning environment that is more conducive to mastering the material. Each class includes:

  1. A subject-specific course manual

  2. 3 full-length subject-specific practice tests

  3. Computer generated score reports

  4. Free extra help with your teacher


The SAT Subject Tests are one-hour multiple-choice tests.  If you're applying to a selective college, you'll probably need to submit scores from at least two SAT Subject Tests. As you develop your college list, keep track of each school's admission requirements. If you're not sure where you're going to apply yet, plan to take at least two SAT Subject Tests, and remember that if a school “recommends” Subject Tests, you should go ahead and take them.

Tests are available in the following subjects:

  1. English Literature

  2. History (U.S. or World)

  3. Language (Chinese, French, Hebrew, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Spanish or German)

  4. Math (Level 1 or Level 2)

  5. Science (Biology-Ecological, Biology-Molecular, Chemistry or Physics)

Language tests can be written only or written with listening. The dates on which you can take a particular language test may vary.
You may take up to three Subject Tests in one sitting, although you should spread them out if you can. On test day, you are allowed to change the number of tests or subject you take with no penalty—except for Language with Listening tests. Also only one Biology test can be taken per test date. (The first 60 questions of the Biology test are the same whether you take Biology-Ecological or Biology-Molecular. Thus, you can take only one or the other.)

Test names are trademarks of their respective owners, who are not affiliated with The Princeton Review.

True or False? SAT Subject Test Myths

The more Subject Tests I take, the better!

False. Don't knock yourself out! Schools that require or recommend Subject Tests will only consider scores from the tests they ask for.

If a school recommends Subject Tests, I should take them.

True. Many of the applicants you're competing with will submit their scores to schools that recommend Subject Tests, so don't put yourself at a competitive disadvantage by not taking them! Choose your subjects wisely and prepare so you can do well.

Every school will accept ACT® scores in lieu of Subject Tests.

False. While some schools only require Subject Tests for students who take the SAT, many others ask for Subject Tests regardless of whether you take the SAT or the ACT.

Some students should take Subject Tests before junior year.

True. If you are taking a course in 9th or 10th grade that has a corresponding Subject Test, you should prepare for and sit for that Subject Test at the end of the school year. Many 9th graders are ready to take the Biology Subject Test, and if you plan to take AP ® Biology in 11th grade, you can retake the test then if needed, since colleges will only use your highest score. Some 10th graders opt to take the World History Subject Test, while others who are in honors Algebra II or Trigonometry courses choose to go for Math Level 1 or 2.

If I do well on an AP® Exam, I will automatically do well on the corresponding Subject Test.

False. While there is some content overlap between Subject Tests and AP Exams, the topics covered on SAT Subject Tests may differ from those that appear on AP Exams. So it's important to prepare adequately and to ensure you know what content is tested on each.

I should avoid taking a language Subject Test if I am not fluent.

True. Many students who speak a foreign language fluently will take the corresponding Subject Test in that language and get a perfect score. That means the curve is not likely to be in your favor. For instance, a score of 750 on the Spanish Subject Test will rank in the 72nd percentile.

I should take Math Level 2 because it has a better curve than Level 1.

False. While it is true that Math Level 2 has a relatively favorable curve, the test is significantly more difficult than Math Level 1. That means the percentiles associated with scores below 800 are quite low. For example, a 750 on Math Level 2 ranks in the 68th percentile.

Unless you plan to apply to engineering schools, or you just really love math and standardized tests, you're probably better off preparing for and taking Math Level I. You'll be more likely to achieve a higher percentile.

Test names are trademarks of their respective owners, who are not affiliated with The Princeton Review.

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