Another question that we are frequently asked is “What are the SAT II’s and do I need to take them?”.

The SAT II’s are content based tests.  They are each one hour long and are multiple choice.  Students can choose from a variety of subjects including literature, government, history, biology, chemistry, physics, two levels of math, and languages.  Students can take up to three exams on one test day.

The SAT II’s are generally required or recommended by highly competitive schools.  If you are a student that is planning to apply to schools, such as UVA or other similarly competitive colleges, then you will need to take at least two subjects.  Some schools require specific tests for particular programs.  For example, an engineering or architecture program may require that one of the tests be in the maths or sciences.   Schools that are competitive generally have a strong pool of applicants.  They use the SAT II’s as another factor in their admissions decisions.

To determine if you need to take the SAT II’s, decide on the list of colleges to which you’d like to apply.  Then, you can look up the application requirements on the school’s website or by using a college search engine like Bright Futures.  On this site, you can search for a school, then go to applying and admissions information to see what tests are required and how they are used (admissions decisions or placement only). Here is an example of UVA’s profile.  As you can see, UVA says that SAT II’s are recommended.  If a college says recommended, you should consider it required to have a strong application.

Now that you know if you need to take the SAT II’s, there are a few things to keep in mind.  Not all subjects are given on all test dates.  It is important to decide which tests you would like to take and plan a date that those tests are given. CollegeBoard has practice questions for each test and the dates that the tests are given.  Often, the best time to take the SAT II’s is May or June.  This is especially true if you are currently in the course in which you plan to test.  For example, if physics is a strength of yours and you are currently in AP physics, it is a good idea to take the SAT II around the same time that you take your AP exam.  This way, you can prepare for both tests at the same time.

Plan the calendar of test dates early.  You cannot take the SAT and the SAT II’s on the same test date.  Plan for this at the beginning of your junior year so you can map out dates for the SAT, ACT and/or SAT II’s.  If you plan to space out the testing throughout your junior year, you will avoid a very overwhelming spring when AP exams, SOL’s, and finals can make for a heavy workload.