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When to take SAT subject tests?

AltrasAltras 354 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
My 9th grader will finish Precalc in March and Physics at the end of the school year. He is a STEM kid, so we figure he should take the Math 2 and Physics subject tests while the material is still fresh in his mind. His last trimester schedule will not give him much/any time to study for the May or June test dates. Plus, the June test date is on move-out day for his school. Lastly, I've been reading that some schools (including some he will likely apply to one day) require that ALL test scores be sent with their application and it's unclear to me if those schools hold the lower scores against the applicant.

My son would like to try to take the math test in May and see how he does. He is a good standardized test taker, but again, he will not be able to do really any meaningful directed study. He will not be finished with Physics by then, so will have to take it in August anyway. Should we let him try the math test in May, then retake in August with Physics, if needed. Would colleges hold the May test date against him if it is lower? Should he just take both in August only?
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Replies to: When to take SAT subject tests?

  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 7266 replies56 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    I would take both in August. There is little point in taking tests without preparation.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 39229 replies7004 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited January 2
    I've been reading that some schools (including some he will likely apply to one day) require that ALL test scores be sent with their application
    Amongst US colleges,only Georgetown requires all Subject Tests; regardless:
    it's unclear to me if those schools hold the lower scores against the applicant.
    I'm not aware of a single college that says anything other than "We consider your highest score." Even the ones that require all scores. Don't look for conspiracy theories where there are none.
    Would colleges hold the May test date against him if it is lower?
    No, but I agree with @momofsenior1 ; there is no point in taking the tests just for practice and giggles.
    My 9th grader will finish ... Physics at the end of the school year.
    Be aware that not all physics courses claim to prepare for.the Subject Tests, so there may be gaps he will need to study on his own.
    edited January 2
    Post edited by skieurope on
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  • mom2twogirlsmom2twogirls 2250 replies29 threadsRegistered User Senior Member
    He should take both in August and be sure to take some practice tests in both early enough in the summer to know if there are gaps/areas needed for review. Not all High school physics classes cover everything that would be on the SAT physics exam, so he might have gaps. For math 2, after pre-Calc is a great time to take it but remember that there are questions for math he wouldn’t have done in a year or so. He might need to review some algebra and geometry concepts that he is rusty in.
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  • AltrasAltras 354 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    Thanks for the advice! I figured it was best to hold off until August, be best prepared and just do it once. That's what we will do.
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  • DCCAWAMIIAILDCCAWAMIIAIL 124 replies3 threadsRegistered User Junior Member
    Personally, I would suggest June when the material is freshest in his mind. At least for Math.

    Think about physics timing though. Big caveat for the subject test is that it covers Mechanical and E&M - my daughter's first year Physics class covered both and then she took Physics AP Mechanical (school doesn't offer E&M) - and then took the subject test but despite my suggestion to review what would be on the test, she didn't spend much time reviewing the E&M material so didn't do as well as she'd hoped. So I'd think a bit about the physics test based on what material your son has covered - and whether or not he is planning to take any Physics AP courses.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 39229 replies7004 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    edited January 2
    I would suggest June when the material is freshest in his mind.
    Not an option per the OP
    Big caveat for the subject test is that it covers Mechanical and E&M
    It actually covers a lot more than that.
    whether or not he is planning to take any Physics AP courses.
    The thing about AP sciences is that it is only on CC that users seem to think that they are needed for the Subject Tests. They're not. Subject Tests cover HS material. APs are first year college material. APs cover less breadth than an intro HS class, so there are huge holes to plug before taking the corresponding Subject Test.
    edited January 2
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  • AltrasAltras 354 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    His school no longer offers AP courses. The college counselors have said that AP scores are not required for college admissions (and we're not concerned with college credit), so he is not currently planning on taking any. But perhaps that is a discussion worth it's own thread.
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  • AltrasAltras 354 replies6 threadsRegistered User Member
    Follow-up to close the loop on this thread. My son took the Math 2 and Physics tests in August. He only took practice tests for math. He took practice tests for Physics and studied material that was on the practice tests and new to him. Much more relaxed studying and he actually did some studying, compared to if he'd have taken the tests in May or June. He got 800s on both and is glad to have the box checked on the subject tests. Anecdotal experience...but wanted to close the loop on this thread.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 39229 replies7004 threadsSuper Moderator Super Moderator
    Thanks for the update and congrats to him.
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  • RichInPittRichInPitt 909 replies12 threadsRegistered User Member
    Just another data for for anyone researching - my D took Math
    2 in May of Freshman year (taking pre-Calc) because she had a conflict in June.

    If a student is strong enough in Math to be in pre-Calc in 9th, the student can probably spend no more than 10 hours studying the material from the rest of the year, plus the topics not covered in the class, and be very well prepared.

    We spent 3-4 hours reading and watching YouTube videos on the basics of matrices, vectors, and parametric equations, and refreshing on sequence/series, which was the class topic for May, and she got an 800 (thinks she missed one question).
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