A Guide to Taking the SAT2 Exams

Many people in high school have heard about the SATs and all students must take them. However, there is another little known test that the college board gives out called the SAT2. Basically it is a subject examination that usually only private schools look at. The SAT2 is scored out of a possible 800 points. The College Board gives the SAT2s in a broad range of topics including Math algebra, pre-calculus, calculus English writing and literature. They also give language exams in Spanish proficiency, French, Russian, Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, and Hebrew. These exams test your listening skills as well as your writing skills. The third category of subject tests is science. These exam topics include Biology with an environment or molecular section, chemistry, and physics. The fifth and final category is history. History topics include United States History and World History. The math subject tests usually require that you bring a calculator with graphing capability but sometimes you aren’t even allowed to use a calculator. For the English exam the format consists of several multiple choice questions and a short essay that will be graded on grammar, creativeness, and content.

I highly recommend that any student taking the SAT2 subject examinations to buy a review book. The best and most common review books used are Kaplan, Princeton review and the College Board sponsored book Real SAT2s. The college board website contains all the information you might need for taking these tests. You can sign up online for these exams and the cost isn’t much, depending on how soon you sign up before test day you will have to pay between $20 to $50. The more time you sign up before the exam the cheaper the cost will be. There are deadlines for the cost of signing up for each exam. The test sight for your exam can be any where you choose. I strongly recommend that you choose the high school that is nearest you or the one that you attend so that you are familiar with your surroundings, know where to go on test day, and won’t have to travel that far, early in the morning.

On test day, many people feel nervous which is perfectly normal. Here are some easy tips that will help you remember what to do and not to do on test day. First print out the admissions ticket from the college board website. You will need to present this to the proctor teacher administering the exam in the classroom. Your admissions ticket also contains a special number that you will need to print on your exam bubble sheet. Also bring an Identification Card with you. It should be a drivers permit or license or another recognizable form of ID. Some test centers might also accept school ID. If you are taking a math exam bring a calculator. For all tests you should bring several pens and pencils, and an eraser. A watch is a must to keep track of time. The proctor in the test room will keep track of time for you but you should still bring your own watch.

Another helpful strategy for taking the SAT2 is to take the subject test immediately after you have completed that subject course in high school. For example, if you have taken a world history class, you should take the SAT2 in World history in June after you have completed the course and finished all of your in class exams. If you take the exam in the middle of the course, then you won’t have a full understanding of all of the material. Or if you take the exam months after the course if over you may have forgotten most of the material and subject matter you learned in that class.

On test day, students often find that they run out of time on the exam. An easy way to fix this is to know the directions of each section before you take the exam on the test day. On math and reading sections you should not have to waste valuable time trying to read and understand directions when you could have done so before the exam.

Furthermore, the grading policy of the subject tests are very important. On every subject exam on the SAT2, you are rewarded a full point for each right answer and you lose 1/4 of a point for each wrong answer. Each omitted question receives no penalty points or reward of more points. This approach also leads to important information about guessing. The penalty for each wrong answer is 1/4 of a point. Most questions have five answers so if you are able to eliminate two questions, then you should definitely guess on that question. If you can’t eliminate more than two, you should leave that question blank.

Other helpful hints are to use the test booklet to record all of your scratch work. Any diagrams you might draw on a math section draw on the blank spaces of the exam so that you can come back to your work if you leave the question blank and want to come back to it later in the exam. Showing your work is also much more helpful than trying to figure out the entire problem in your head.

Finally, each question is worth the same amount of points. The test is usually, but not always, depending on the exam you take, ordered from easiest to hardest question in the test booklet. So you should spend a little more time on the easier question and double check those questions to make sure that you get those right. Then you can move onto the harder questions. Because of the time limit restraints, and question that you find leaves you stumped and wasting time, skip and you can always come back to it. There is no point wasting five minutes on a question when you could be completing several questions in that same time space. Also, some students find it helpful to record their answers in the test booklet and then transfer five or more answers at a time into the answer grid. This will also save you time. But beware! If you leave a question blank make sure that you leave the question blank on the answer grid.

The week of the exam, you should feel confident that you will do well on the exam. You will have studied for several weeks or months for this exam. The day of the exam you should do very little or no studying and get a good nights rest for the exam.
On the day of the exam, arrive at the test center with plenty of time before the exam. Once you enter the school, sheets will be posted in the main lobby of the building with all the students names on it taking the exam in alphabetical order. Find you name and your classroom and your exam will start in that classroom.
Best of luck to all test takers.

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