SAT Subjects: Which Ones Should You Choose and Why?

SAT Subjects: Which Ones Should You Choose and Why?SAT subject test is designed to measure your academic readiness for admission in an undergraduate program to a US college or university. It is based on your high school curriculum and evaluates how you would be able to fulfill the specific coursework in college.

When it comes to the big decision of which SAT subjects should you opt for, you have to take into account your academic strengths and interests, the admission requirements the colleges in your preference list ask for and your future study plan. Even the colleges that do not require subject test scores may accept them as part of admission process that might give them a good idea about your background.


SAT has 20 subject tests that cover five general subject areas namely Mathematics, Science, English, History and Languages. Each subject test lasts for an hour. Questions will be of multiple choices that would be evaluated on a 200-800 scale.

Most colleges recommend submitting SAT subject test scores for at least two tests. The subjects you choose are going to reflect your interest areas and strengths on your college application. The trick is to pick subjects that you excelled in high school for you to have a strong foundation to kick start a great freshman year in college.

SAT subjects

Following are the five general subject areas included under SAT subject tests with the breakup of the units under each subject.

1. Mathematics

  • Math Level 1
  • Math Level 2

2. Science

  • Biology Molecular (M)/ Biology Ecological (E)
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

3. English (reading and interpreting literature from diverse historical periods and genres)

4. History

  • US History (since pre-Columbian times)
  • World History ( since ancient times)

5. Languages

  • Spanish
  • Spanish with Listening
  • French
  • French with Listening
  • Chinese with Listening
  • Italian
  • German
  • German with Listening
  • Modern Hebrew
  • Latin
  • Japanese with Listening
  • Korean with Listening

How to choose SAT subjects?

The simple rule is to choose subjects that you are good at. The World History could be the best choice for one who scores an all-star in History. Do you have a penchant for Science? Then your best pick could be Biology Molecular or Biology Ecological, based on your interest area.

Are you a master of a language? Choose that language test; you would find that it is a piece of cake to score high. However, remember that you should possess extraordinary language skills as you would compete with native and fluent speakers.

If you are particularly proficient in algebra, geometry, and trigonometry and pre-calculus and have no qualms about using a graphing calculator, then Math Level 2 is the best choice.

If you are one to be charmed by the artistic excellence of literary texts and have an authority over them, go for English test.

Some subject tests cover material from several classes. It is therefore a good idea to sit for the test soon after you complete the corresponding course in high school.


Let us take a quick glimpse at the scoring pattern. Each correct answer is awarded one point. A fraction of a point is deducted for every wrong answer.

  • 1/4 point is deducted for five-choice questions
  • 1/3 point is deducted for four-choice questions
  • 1/2 point is deducted for three-choice questions
  • No points are deducted for unanswered questions

Your raw score is converted to a scaled score of 200-800 points that would figure on your score report. If the ensuing score is a fraction, it is rounded off to the nearest whole number — half or more is rounded up while less than half is rounded down.

Are you still not too sure about what SAT subjects to choose? Worry not. It is best that you register with an online tutoring portal for one-to-one customized coaching to best unravel your strengths and maximize your scores to the fullest.

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