SAT II necessary for top Engineering with high G.P.A. & SAT? Got bad advice from GC

Hi. We are a bit confused and not sure what to do? My son is a Junior, 4.4 G.P.A., most difficult courses offered at his school; A.P. Eng/A.P. B.C. Calc, A.P. Physics C, Honors History…and got a 1550 on S.A.T. Pretty sure he’ll get 4/5’s on A.P.'s

But, way back in 9th grade, GD, Dean, etc… told him to take Bio in 9th, Astronomy in 10th, A.P. Physics in 11th, and Chem in 12th.

What they didn’t tell him; Caltech, H. Mudd, etc…want 2 subject tests; math and a hard Science. His friends in other schools all took Chem in 10th and took that subj, but he won’t take it until Senior year and that would be too late. Apparently, the A.P. Physics course only covers 40% of the Physics Subj. II. Does he really really need to study all summer for the other 60% of the Subj. II Physics test?

What about the U.C.'s Engineering dept.'s that “recommend 2” subj’s? Or, Stanford that they “consider?”

Or, USC/U. Santa Clara privates? Is it worse to NOT take it, or not do so well, or…?

Any advice? We thought he was done with testing!

My son was in the same situation, and did the bio subject test.

What they didn’t tell him<<<<<<<<<<

Who are they? This sort of info is on the university websites, my kids GC has 400 kids, the high achievers are the least of her worries, are you in a private school?

Yes, we are in a Private school in a small town. The GC was fired that same year for failing to send letters and other bad things. The new counselor didn’t say anything either. I have been trying to glean info from UCLA/UCSB websites…they say “recommend,” and USC/Stanford seem to say “used to highlight.” Caltech and Mudd require. But, does recommend and and consider really mean require?

It’s just so much to learn and teaching literally for a test…also, I figure that the 60% of physics he didn’t learn this year will be taught in a more interesting, meaningful way in college…but he has to get IN there first. The other thing, is that due to fire/flood we were evacuated from our home and had no school for 6 weeks this past year, so there are gaps…any advice is appreciated.
I am not sure bio would work, he took it 4 years back.

I think if your S takes practice tests he will find the SAT II Physics and Math quite easy. He absolutely will not need to study all summer–maybe a few hours a day for a week to get 800s based on the SAT score, gpa, and academic preparation you describe.

Whats wrong with the bio subject test? For Ucla and cal the bio one is just fine. I took the bio and I’m a EE. For reference I took regular biology freshman year of high school. I took the subject test fall senior year. Got a really good score on it with some self study review.

Have him review a Physics study guide for the Subject Test. If he was prepared for AP Physics C (not Physics 1), and expects a 4 or 5, I find it hard to believe he hasn’t covered 60%. Perhaps it was the Physics 1 class (algebra based, not calculus based) that you heard about.

If he took a Physics C, that will cover everything and more that he needs for the SAT Physics subject test.

Take Physics and Math II and call it a day. The best time IMO to have taken this test would have been in May or June while preparing for the APs. In any case, neither test should be all that hard. Nowhere as hard as the AP test itself. Getting 800 on both will be the goal.

Physics C is divided into separate Mechanics and E&M courses, so the 60% figure is reasonable if he took just Mechanics.

But, the SAT II test covers physics at a much lower level mathematically, so the prep work he would need to do to learn the additional physics content is not equivalent to a whole year or even to a semester. It is more conceptual and is a 1-hour multiple-choice test. It’s not a test where there is a free response section like the AP tests.

My suggestion would be to get a copy of the College Board book that has one or two official practice tests for each of the SAT II tests. Have him take the practice tests for Bio and Physics to see how much material he hasn’t covered. Then, study over the summer with a prep book for that science. (And to review on math since Math II only covers through trig and that was likely a year or two ago.)

Sorry that he isn’t done with testing. We live somewhat nearby, and understand how disruptive those 6 weeks of fire and flood were this winter.

Thank you!

what does EE mean?

Yes, He only took the Physics C Mechanics, sorry. It’s new to me, and according to him and his A.P. teacher, (who isn’t very nice) that only covered 40% of the SAT II…i.e: no E&M or the other 2-3 sections. That is why we are in a quandry. Any and ALL advice is much appreciated.

Thank you. It has been so stressful, but so many have lost so much more and it is all in perspective. We have a few new neighbors renting on our block, and they literally have nothing left! It’s so sad. We had a bunch over to dinner and to see what we can do to help/come together.

he needs to study for both the physics and Math 2 subject tests. Especially the math test , as the scores of accepted students in that test at CalTech range between 780-800.

EE = Electrical Engineer

@menloparkmom Luckily, on the Math II test, you can miss a few (not sure how many) and still get an 800. Caltech’s middle 50% range on the Math II subject test is 800-800. There may be a few students with 780 scores.

Again, has your S tried a practice Physics exam? My S took it with minimal studying after taking only AP Physics I, not C, and got an 800. It really isn’t a big deal.

Yes, he took a practice, and it was BAD…I think we have to come up with a strategy…

@BeCheap4me2 Provided the schools on your son’s list will accept any of the three science subject tests (not all schools accept the biology test), I would have him take all three exams in the official College Board Subject Test book to determine which test he should prepare for over the summer.

Once your son determines which science test to focus on, Barron’s and the free online sparknotes are good for preparing. Just remember that no formulas are provided and calculators are not permitted.

Good luck!

Well, he just came home this morning from SAT II Math, and thought it was pretty easy compared to the Barrons book, so fingers crossed…