SAT Subject Tests and End-of-Year Prep Planning

SAT Subject Tests:

The SAT Subject Tests are a big source of stress for students and families. Should you take them? Should you wait to take them? When is the best time to take them? All of these questions float around your mind in a sea of dates, deadlines, doctor’s appointments and driver’s ed. Let us alleviate at least this one part of the stress and give you our best advice.

  • Should you take them?
    It’s no secret that SAT Subject Tests tend to rank fairly low on most application evaluations, if they’re considered at all. Most of the time, the colleges looking for these scores fall in the top tier or have a specific requirement for an esoteric program. It’s always best to give a call directly to the schools/programs you’re considering and find out their requirements. You may even find out that some schools on your list accept the ACT with writing in the place of SAT Subject Tests. But the point is this: Do your research, find out what the requirements are, and schedule your tests accordingly.
  • Should you wait to take them?
    The most typical time to take a subject exam is at the completion of a course either specifically designed to prepare you for the subject test or after a rigorous high school course (AP or Research Honors level). The subject tests are less demanding than the AP exams, but similar in the scope of their content, so you really need to know your stuff. Not sure if your class prepares you for the subject exam? Ask your teacher.
  • When’s the best time to take them?
    This is a tricky question. Most often we recommend taking SAT Subject Tests at the end of the year–the same time as you’re finishing your courses/taking AP exams. But this can be tough, since many students are also finishing their SAT/ACT exams and might be traveling for a variety of reasons. If you can’t take the tests in the spring, you can always use your summer to stay up to speed and prep for an early test in the fall.

Haven’t made your school list or decided on a direction quite yet? Register and take them anyway (but also, call us and we can help you start the process!). You don’t want to get caught filling out your applications only to find out that you’re missing an essential component.

Think you’ll be taking the tests? Here’s what you’ll need to do:

    1. Take a practice test with us: It’s important to find out where you stand on these exams, especially now. If you can’t remember any topics your class covered in the beginning of the year, you’re going to want to find that out sooner rather than later.
    2. Decide if you need help: If you’re within 30-50 points of your goal score, self-study is probably a good option to close the gap, but bigger deficits mean you might need help preparing, especially if you want to show true mastery. If you need help, contact us and we’ll get you set up with a tutor in your desired subject area.
    3. Make a study plan: Whether you’re working on your own or with a tutor, each test is different in its content and in best preparation strategies. The way you’d study for the Bio exam will be entirely different from the French with listening, so be sure to identify your areas of weakness and outline a 4-8 week plan of study, based on your diagnostic.
    4. Register for your exams: If you’re starting now, you can register for both the May and June SAT Subject Tests. You may not end up needing both exam dates, but both dates do tend to be busy, and you don’t want to travel a long distance when you could take it at your local school.
    5. Get to Work: Make a plan to incorporate your study plan into your weekly study goals and assignments. With only 7 weeks between now and the June SAT, there’s no time to waste. Take weekly diagnostics, review your results, identify your weaknesses, and repeat until you’re confident!

At A-List, we offer prep for almost every subject exam either online or in-person. Think you want to take a diag? Contact us and we’ll get that setup for you today.

End of Year Planning:

It’s easy at this time of year to get burned out. Not just on your prep, but with everything you’re doing–clubs, sports, classes, volunteering–all of these things could make anyone want to just curl up in a ball and hold out until summer. Unfortunately for us, we simply can’t do that. So instead, let’s make a plan.

Test Prep: With 7 weeks left before the last test of the school year, now’s the time to hit the books, not the breaks. Many students feel like they can stop working until April ACT scores come back, but with the first batch hitting accounts on April 18th, you’re losing 2 weeks of incredibly valuable time. With Spring Break behind us, it’s time to hit the books again, and now more than ever. Here are three things you can do to make sure the rest of this school year is a success:

    1. Keep your sessions and practice exams consistent: We know how hard it is to make time for everything in the last few weeks, and sometimes pushing test-prep to the back-burner is an easy way to alleviate the stress of everything else, but make no mistake: if you push this aside now, you’ll be wasting the entire year of prep by leaving it behind. Use your phone calendar or any calendar to outline key dates, exams and assignments and make your prep part of your daily routine, just like any other class.
    2. Set weekly goals and stick to them: So you’ve put all of your dates into your calendar, but now what? Now it’s time to execute. Review your calendar every day and make adjustments as needed. At A-List, we use Asana to keep track of our long term projects, daily tasks and long-term goals, and you can, too, if you need help. Overall, stick to your daily assignments and plans and keep working. The summer finish line is right around the corner!
    3. Be Realistic: Let’s be honest: writing all three of those papers the night before they’re due is not going to happen. Not without pulling an all-nighter, and we all know how those papers are going to turn out. If you know it takes you 2 weeks to write each paper, make sure you set goals and deadlines that reflect that. Give yourself daily assignments for each class, each test, and each assignment so you don’t find yourself stressing three days before everything is due.

If you’re just getting started with your prep, it’s more important than ever to stay consistent and make a plan. If you’ll be around for the summer, look to take advantage of your free time and start planning for fall exams. If you’re wrapping up: look ahead at your final, AP and SAT Subject Test schedules and make sure to plan your study time each week for the next 7 weeks.  Need help in keeping up with it all? That’s what we’re here for.

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