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    #237059 - 03/10/17 12:04 PM when to take SAT Subject tests
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2593
    Loc: MA
    My eldest child will likely apply to some of the very selective universities that require SAT Subject tests. He is in 9th grade. I plan to have him take subject tests each year in June for classes he will not have again until 12th grade (or ever). His school follows the typical biology/chemistry/physics sequence for grades 9-11. In 11th grade he can take AP Biology or AP Chemistry in addition to physics. In math his sequence is geometry, pre-calculus, and calculus for grades 9-11. He is taking French each year. For social studies the sequence is World History I and II in grades 9 and 10 and U.S. History in grade 11. So an SAT subject schedule could be as follows:

    grade 09: Biology Molecular and Mathematics Level 2 (he is advanced in math and is taking pre-calculus outside school)

    grade 10: Chemistry and World History, maybe French or SAT Math Level 2 again

    grade 11: French, Physics and U.S. History. Maybe English instead of French if he does very well on French in grade 10. Maybe Biology and Chemistry again if he is taking AP classes in those subjects and the previous scores were not very good. Maybe Math Level 2 again

    grade 12: maybe tests in classes being taken by the November test date (so they be considered by admissions), if there are not yet enough very good scores

    My understanding of Score Choice is that he will be able to choose which subject test scores are reported to colleges.

    Here are the subject test requirements of a few schools:

    Caltech:
    SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 2 (official scores from testing agency)
    1 SAT science subject test: biology (ecological), biology (molecular), chemistry, or physics (official scores from testing agency)

    MIT:
    Same as Caltech, except that Math Level 1 or 2 can be submitted.

    Harvard:
    Two or or more subject tests. A score of 700+ on a language test meets the foreign language requirement.

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    #237061 - 03/10/17 01:53 PM Re: when to take SAT Subject tests [Re: spaghetti]
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2593
    Loc: MA
    Originally Posted By: spaghetti
    I'm not sure that taking more than the required 2 tests buys you much either.

    There is Score Choice, which lets you report the top two scores, and the expected value of the sum of the top two scores increases with the number of tests taken. I understand that there is a point of diminishing returns. My son likes standardized tests.

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    #237063 - 03/10/17 02:33 PM Re: when to take SAT Subject tests [Re: Bostonian]
    polarbear Offline
    Member

    Registered: 09/29/11
    Posts: 3361
    I'll echo spaghetti's suggestion to check your district's website to see if they have any information on course alignment, and would also suggest asking your ds' counselor for their recommendation. Our high school counselor suggests taking Math 2 after pre-calc, and taking Chem and Biology after AP Chem and AP Biology. Our counselor also recommends not taking more than 2 unless you've verified that the school you're applying for requires more than 2, and also recommends that you make your choices re which tests to take based on what the student wants to choose as a college major. I'm not familiar other than vaguely with all the ins and outs of choosing to take the tests more than once and using the Score Report option to only share your top scores, but fwiw our ds' counselor doesn't recommend purposely taking the tests and then repeating them to get a better score - her take on it is it typically doesn't buy much in terms of actual score and it's something that is sometimes seen as a negative by admissions. If your son likes standardized tests, I'm guessing he also tests well, and really wouldn't need to worry about retesting to get a better score, so I'd just make a plan based on when he'd completed the courses that feed into each subject test.

    The one timing thing you haven't mentioned - spring of junior year can get a bit test-crazy - it's not a bad idea at all to get some of the subject tests over and done with before then, if he's going to be taking a bunch of AP tests and also SAT+ACT.

    Best wishes,

    polarbear

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    #237065 - 03/10/17 04:40 PM Re: when to take SAT Subject tests [Re: Bostonian]
    NotSoGifted Offline
    Member

    Registered: 04/14/12
    Posts: 445
    Way too many Subject tests. No need for more than two or three. Georgetown is the only school I know of that recommends three; others, if they do recommend or require them, only ask for two. As you've noted, some schools have specific tests required (typically are STEM oriented schools/majors), so pay attention to those. Also, "recommended" means "required" unless you have some very special hook.

    My older two took three Subject tests each. They took them at the end of a course or when they felt ready to take them. My eldest is a humanities kid, and after taking two humanities type tests, took one of the math Subject tests. My middle kid had taken two STEM type tests, and took French for the third. They based the third test off of the practice Subject tests - whichever one they could score well on, that is the one they took.

    As for score choice, you can't just report your best scores. If you choose to report a particular test date, and you took multiple Subject tests on that date, you must report all tests for that date.

    As for the French Subject test, I think he should wait until he is at 4th year level or beyond (or 3rd year if that is his junior year French course). How long has he taken French? It is fairly easy for a kid who can read the questions and has a feel for what looks or sounds right. But you may not get that from a couple of years of HS French. And remember that the French AP exam will fulfill the foreign language requirement at a lot more schools than the Subject test.

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    #237067 - 03/10/17 07:22 PM Re: when to take SAT Subject tests [Re: Bostonian]
    madeinuk Offline
    Member

    Registered: 03/18/13
    Posts: 1443
    Loc: NJ
    Really interesting topic - i knew of the existence of these tests but wasn't too sure of their relevance.
    _________________________
    Become what you are

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    #237074 - 03/11/17 09:45 AM Re: when to take SAT Subject tests [Re: Bostonian]
    Quantum2003 Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/08/11
    Posts: 1425
    Bostonian, if I am remembering correctly, you have a DS who is very strong in Math and Science, so I would definitely prioritize there. I am assuming that you are considering so many subject tests partly to get a couple of perfect 800s. It would seem that AP classes would increase the likelihood of reaching a perfect score at any one random testing so perhaps wait until your DS has had the corresponding courses. I bought a Barron's book with "all" (actually just most) the subject tests. You should probably use that to gauge where your DS is strongest and whether AP courses are helpful to reach his scoring goal. Of course, it may be like the ACT, where the top score can be elusive once you reached the point of possible perfect score: DD had a perfect 36 in ACT Reading and DS had a perfect 36 in ACT Science when they practiced right before the exam but both fell short in those specific sections on the actual test. In our experience, the old SAT I was more stable score-wise so maybe the SAT subject tests are more like the old SAT I. On French, I would judge based on your DS' actual command of the language. DD took a quick look at the Spanish test and was surprised at how easy it was and she was only mid-way through her second year; of course, I hear that there are a lot of perfect and near perfect scores on the foreign languages tests so I personally would prefer to wait until the third year.


    Edited by Quantum2003 (03/11/17 09:48 AM)

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    #238027 - 04/29/17 06:52 PM Re: when to take SAT Subject tests [Re: Bostonian]
    LotsToLearn Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 04/08/09
    Posts: 6
    Greetings Bostonian!
    Everybody has shared lots of great feedback. Agree with NotSoGifted... way too much testing and really not needed. Two subject tests should be plenty and I also agree that your son should take them when he has finished the courses or when he feels ready. The pressure really ramps up when they are juniors so think of it as a marathon so you don't want to burn out that really smart boy of yours too soon.

    I'm impressed how organized you are and I am going to make you shudder (or probably feel better) when you hear our story. Thankfully my husband found out our DS needed to take subject tests (found out late in our son's junior year). Consequently, with all the other testing and activities going on my DS did not take them till December of his senior year. He did OK (he didn't have time to study and it was too far out from when he took the classes). He could've retaken them in January for some of the selective schools he was applying to but I encouraged him to not retake them. I knew he wouldn't take the time to study so why risk his scores dropping. With all his college apps, college classes (we don't have AP), activities, etc. he was getting burned out.

    The good news is that our DS got accepted into Harvard and Columbia for engineering. He also got accepted into other good schools but this is the two he is deciding between. Hopefully this is encouraging to you and that the path to getting in a selective school doesn't require a perfect, straight trajectory. I realize that for MIT and Cal Tech your son is going to need stellar subject scores in math and science but just like the previous posters recommended, make sure to not overdo the testing and take it closer to when he has completed the material.

    BTW... have you ever gone to www.collegeconfidential.com? I think you might really enjoy it if you haven't been there. Lots of great specific talk about testing and colleges. Good stuff!

    Best to you and that bright boy. Lots of fun stuff coming up!

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    #239421 - 08/04/17 07:10 AM Re: when to take SAT Subject tests [Re: Bostonian]
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2593
    Loc: MA
    Originally Posted By: Bostonian
    My eldest child will likely apply to some of the very selective universities that require SAT Subject tests. He is in 9th grade. I plan to have him take subject tests each year in June for classes he will not have again until 12th grade (or ever). His school follows the typical biology/chemistry/physics sequence for grades 9-11. In 11th grade he can take AP Biology or AP Chemistry in addition to physics. In math his sequence is geometry, pre-calculus, and calculus for grades 9-11. He is taking French each year. For social studies the sequence is World History I and II in grades 9 and 10 and U.S. History in grade 11. So an SAT subject schedule could be as follows:

    grade 09: Biology Molecular and Mathematics Level 2 (he is advanced in math and is taking pre-calculus outside school)

    grade 10: Chemistry and World History, maybe French or SAT Math Level 2 again

    In June of this year he took the Math Level 2 exam and earned an 800 (hooray!). I think we'll have him take Chemistry and World History next June, at the end of 10th grade. If he does well on those he may be done with subject tests for admissions purposes.

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    #245785 - 06/30/19 05:04 PM Re: when to take SAT Subject tests [Re: Bostonian]
    Bostonian Offline
    Member

    Registered: 02/14/10
    Posts: 2593
    Loc: MA
    My eldest son, now a rising senior, is looking at the testing requirements of specific colleges. We are surprised that Carnegie Mellon discounts SAT subject test scores from before 11th grade:

    Quote:
    Carnegie Mellon requires either the SAT Test or ACT Test from every applicant. SAT Subject Test results are recommended for various programs, see the chart below for details.

    We believe that college admission testing in the 9th and 10th grades adds to the anxiety of a process that students will not encounter for several years. As a result, we’re generally not in favor of any 9th or 10th grade SAT Subject Tests. While they may measure subject knowledge at the time the tests are taken, that level of knowledge degrades over time and doesn’t remain representative of the subject knowledge students bring to college freshman level courses. Should students present subject tests taken two or more years in advance of their freshman experience, we have to take the timing of the test result into consideration. The greater the amount of time prior to the freshman year, the less we can rely on the test result as a fair representation of their knowledge entering freshman level courses.

    I wonder how many other colleges prefer subject tests from 11th or 12th grade. My son earned a 5 on the AP Calculus BC exam in 10th grade and took multivariable calculus this year as a junior. Next year he will take discrete math, differential equations or linear algebra. I hope CMU is not too inflexible regarding SAT subject test dates.

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    #245786 - 06/30/19 06:24 PM Re: when to take SAT Subject tests [Re: Bostonian]
    Anisotropic Offline
    Junior Member

    Registered: 12/09/18
    Posts: 15
    Hopefully this doesn't apply to the regular SAT/ACT. I missed one question on the ACT at the start of 10th grade and can't see why that would not be given full consideration.
    _________________________
    "The thing that doesn't fit is the most interesting."
    -Richard Feynman

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