Information provided by www.kaptest.com
An Achievement Test by any other name... The SAT II is a set of more than 20 different tests focusing on specific disciplines such as English, History and Social Sciences, Mathematics, Physical Sciences, and Foreign Languages. Each Subject Test lasts one hour and consists entirely of multiple-choice questions, except for the Writing Test, which has a 20-minute essay section in addition to a 40-minute multiple-choice section.
How Does the SAT II Differ from SAT I?
SAT I is largely a test of verbal and math skills. True, you need to know some vocabulary and some formulas for the SAT I, but it's designed to measure how well you read and think rather than what you know. The SAT II is very different. It's designed to measure what you know about specific disciplines. Sure, critical reading and thinking skills play a part on these tests, but their main purpose is to determine exactly what you know about writing, math, history, chemistry, and so on.
How Do Colleges Use the SAT II?
Many people will tell you that the SATs (I and II alike) measure only your ability to perform on standardized exams--that they measure neither your reading and thinking skills nor your level of knowledge. Maybe they're right. But these people don't work for colleges. Those schools that require SATs feel that they're an important indicator of your ability to succeed in college. Specifically, they use your scores in one or both of two ways:
• To help them make admissions decisions
• To help them make placement decisions
Like the SAT I , the SAT II: Subject Tests provide schools with a standard measure of academic performance, which they use to compare you to applicants from different high schools and different educational backgrounds. This information helps them to decide whether you're ready to handle their curriculum.
SAT II scores may also be used to decide what course of study is appropriate for you once you've been admitted. A low score on the Writing Test, for example, may mean that you have to take a remedial English course. Conversely, a high score on the Math Level IIC Test may mean that you'll be exempted from an introductory math course.
What SAT II Subject Tests Should I Take?
The simple answer is: Take the ones that you'll do well on. High scores, after all, can only help your chances for admission. Unfortunately, many colleges demand that you take particular tests, usually the Writing Test and/or one of the Math Tests. Some schools will give you some choice in the matter, especially if they want you to take a total of three Subject Tests. So, before you register to take any tests, check with colleges to find out exactly which tests they require. Don't rely on high school guidance counselors or admissions handbooks for this information. They might not give you accurate details.