What are SAT Subject Tests? Are they necessary? How do you prepare for them? Last week, I took my first two (and only two) SAT Subject tests: US History and Math II. So here are a few tips on how to prepare for the tests and how to decide whether or not you should take them.
First off, how should you decide whether you should take a Subject Test and which ones you should take?
It's super important to look at the schools that you're applying to and see whether they require or accept Subject Tests. This is a list of all the schools that require or recommend the test. Normally, SAT Subject Tests make more of a difference for private universities and colleges and some public universities will not really take them into account. As for choosing which tests you should take, I would recommend looking at this page. It might not be the most accurate, but it was really helpful to me because it gives you all of the percentiles for the scores. Looking at the percentiles, you'll be able to see which test fits you best because although you may be good at math it's good to know that unless you get around an 800 on the Math II test, you won't fall into a particularly good percentile.
Finally, how do you prepare for them?
I'd like to start with saying that my level of preparation for the Subject Tests was no where near enough. The subject test was a week after school ended for me and I mistakenly believed that that week would be enough for me to prepare.
For Math II, there were a lot of different topics I actually didn't know about because I skipped precalculus and I went directly from Algebra II to AP Calculus AB. I would have needed probably a month to properly prepare for the test but it would be less for someone who actually did take precalculus. I used the Barron's book to prepare, and although it is a good review book, it isn't very good for learning the material.
For US History, I procrastinated a ton because of my issues with Math II and thus I also don't think I prepared as much as I should have. This test was really different from the AP test that I took at the beginning of May in that it was based on pure memorization instead of a good understanding of history and didn't have many of the stimulus questions that I am now used to. You should definitely make sure to buy a review book and begin reviewing well in advance.