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Some advice for those taking Chem/Physics in June

lolcats4lolcats4 Registered User Posts: 3,203 Senior Member
edited September 2010 in SAT Subject Tests Preparation
I thought I would share some advice with those taking these tests soon. I took both Physics and Chemistry in May, and got an 800 on each.


The SATIIs can be much harder to study for than the SATI - it seems like you can find SATI tests all over the place. No such luck for the SATII's. My theory why this is: The questions on the SAT subject tests are often reworded versions of the same questions and concepts!! This isn't like the SATI, where there are an infinite number of math problems and vocab words (or it seems that way). If this was the case for the SATII, it would be MUCH MUCH harder.
Therefore, you need to make the best of the available resources. Buy the CB Subject Test blue book - I'll tell you why in a minute.

When reading practice books, read carefully and pay attention to details. This is critical if you want 800. If that's not the target, don't waste your time on this minutia. During your practice tests, mark every question you have even the slightest doubt about. At the end, review every one of these. AT first, take all the time you need. My first Physics practice test took me 1 hour and 40 minutes, and I only get a 740 :P

The most important thing is ***FLASHCARDS***. Don't be lazy and buy them. You won't look at them ever again. Go and buy some blank index cards, and make yours in pencil/pen. Every time you miss a question/concept, put it on a card. Write down small details on your cards. Write jokes! If you miss a concept again, after it's on your card, highlight it. This fixes mistakes faster than any other way I know of. Review your flashcards before each practice test. I skipped this step initially out of laziness, but it's important. On the test day, review them an hour before and then don't think about them again - it'll be in your head.

The last thing is, make sure you have the CB's book. Take the test(s) in it fairly soon. If you do really poorly you may want to reconsider taking the test. This is invaluable help - it gets you acquainted to the CB's really bad test wording, and the style of the test. It will also give you the most accurate practice test score. If you don't for any other test, take this one under timed conditions. Otherwise it's a waste. Make10000% sure you can do every question in this test, as I know 1-2 will definitely reappear.

If you really have a ton of time, review the threads in this forum on the past tests. When you take the real test you will instantly recognize some questions ! Remember, almost every concept it seems is just recycled!!


This test has a decent curve, but it's the harder one to get an 800 in. I would recommend the PR review. However, the real test requires some more math based problems than PR. Kaplan can balance this because it's very math heavy. I checked most of my study books out of the local library btw, to save on money. Just don't write in the book if you do this! ;P

The Spark Notes tests are free (if you create a new account for each one). Beware however - they are VERY discouraging. I never scored above 700 on them.

Don't do the true/false last. Sure, they take time, but they're impossible to do under pressure. It's not like the MC where you can quickly mark off 3 choices and guess. Also, what I found helpful, was going down the left column of the page and ONLY reading those. Then do the right column. If any of the questions are so far True and True, then read the whole thing again and decide if it's CE. This way you don't get distracted. Make sure that however you do the T/F section, you get comfortable with it through practice tests.

For section A, if you don't immediately know the answer, here's what I do: Write the letters A B C D E near the question. Then, as you review each choice, cross out the letter if it's wrong. This makes it a whole lot less confusing for me, and makes it easy for me to guess. It also keeps your answer choices clean of distracting marks for when you answer the next question.

For section C, leave ALL of the stoichimetry/math heavy problems for last. Get the other questions done first. Get used to working the math heavy ones under pressure though!! There's no way around it - just practice with the practice tests and you'll find that you'll get much faster at these sorts of problems.


On this test, the curve is pretty generous. Even if you're going for an 800, do not hesitate to leave something blank if you're totally unsure.

CONCEPTS CONCEPTS CONCEPTS. Get them down. Use those flashcards. You should be thinking about motion as you walk around during the day. The Kaplan physics book is GREAT for concepts, it's descriptions are really clear.

The physics test doesn't tend to test obscure concepts, unlike the practice test books. Don't worry too much about them, but put them on your flashcards just in case.

FORMULAS. Know how to derive/memorize all the basic ones. If you're lazy in this respect it's your fault and your score will suffer. Honestly, the SAT physics are really memory based. Not at all like my university course - which is memorization AND application. Either way, you can't get out of it.

You don't need to know constants. Just know the formulas - you WON'T get a question that gives you two charge values, and a radius, and asks you for the electric force. Instead, it will say, what happens when the distance is doubled between the the charges? And you, having memorized your formulas, will know that the electric force is inversely proportional to the radius squared, and will therefore be a fourth of the original force. Most questions are like this.

Hard questions will usually ask you for the formula (perhaps with the values plugged in) but not ask you for the solution.
Use 10 m/s^2 for gravity.

For section A, use the same tip I gave in Chemistry.

And if you have ANY practice questions you don't understand, feel free to ask me. I like to keep in practice :) Good luck!
Post edited by lolcats4 on

Replies to: Some advice for those taking Chem/Physics in June

  • kelperkelper Registered User Posts: 231 Junior Member
    Thanks for the hints. I'm trying to get my June SAT changed to SAT Subject Tests for Physics, Chemistry, and Math II.
  • lolcats4lolcats4 Registered User Posts: 3,203 Senior Member
    you just walk in and take the tests you want. You don't even have to tell anyone.
  • innervisionsinnervisions User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 221 Junior Member
    Any recommendations for the lab questions for chemistry? I know the gen chem curriculum very well, and I'm using Barron's to get used to the stochiometry/trick-question nature of the test and I'm at 770 today (Barron's scale). The only content I'm short on is with lab stuff, and it's not any of my books (AP/SAT II Barron's, textbook).
  • reversepsychreversepsych Registered User Posts: 815 Member
    Thanks, taking chem in June, these tips will be great.
  • lolcats4lolcats4 Registered User Posts: 3,203 Senior Member
    innervisions, there is a section on laboratory at Sparknotes.com and it's free.

    I used that primarily.
  • sushant269sushant269 - Posts: 730 Member
    hm How many tests does the Blue Book have on Chemistry? I mean, i have PR which offers 3. I dont wanna buy the blue book for only 2 tests in chemistry.. i mean i d prolly use it again for future tests but yeah. If it had 3, then i ll buy it.
  • lolcats4lolcats4 Registered User Posts: 3,203 Senior Member
    It only has one test per subject. It's your choice if you buy it, but I personally felt it was invaluable. I also plan on taking 3 more SATIIs later on, so it's def worth it for me. It may not for you though.
  • sushant269sushant269 - Posts: 730 Member
    er i dont have that kinda money right now :[ i ll stick to PR, but if i really need it, ill buy it, and then return it a week later.
  • lolcats4lolcats4 Registered User Posts: 3,203 Senior Member
    You can also try your local library. Mine had a copy.
  • az1698az1698 Registered User Posts: 1,900 Senior Member
    I am getting 600 on chem using the barrons tests- think i'll be able to get a 700-750 with significant prep over the next two weeks? What were your scores on barrons, and is it harder or easier?

    Also, I suck at the math part of chem. Any suggestions?
  • lolcats4lolcats4 Registered User Posts: 3,203 Senior Member
    Barrons is MUCH harder I've heard, and covers stuff that won't come close to being on the real thing. You can definitely get a 700-750 with two weeks of prep - I pulled a 610 to an 800 in two weeks.
  • innervisionsinnervisions User Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 221 Junior Member
    lolcats the sparknotes is perfect, thanks for that.
  • Anonymous91Anonymous91 Registered User Posts: 1,008 Senior Member
    do you recommend Princeton review for physics? Is the practice tests in there harder or easier than the real thing?
  • lolcats4lolcats4 Registered User Posts: 3,203 Senior Member
    They are harder, and I do recommend PR :)
  • wildchartermagewildchartermage Registered User Posts: 1,003 Senior Member
    yeah, PR seems the one that is closest to CB's tests, but unfortunately, they don't make any more of it b/c this year's edition is the same as 2000-2001. they just recycle the practice tests for each editions, so it seems.
This discussion has been closed.