I’ve heard something about you. Yes, you. Something about you being an interesting individual. You’re more than the “generic,” stereotypical Indian that most Americans think you are. You’re not just a dark-skinned person (at least darker than most of the pale Americans) who’s good at maths and has a funny accent (yes, Americans think YOU speak weirdly!). Sure, you might be all these things, but you are more than the sum of these parts. You are probably smart in all sorts of interesting ways. So, how do you show it? Obviously, the application will demonstrate your writing skills and list your hobbies. But what about academics? The best way to show off is through the SAT Subject Tests, lovingly called the SAT IIs, though this is no longer their official name. So, what are the SAT IIs? They are a series of 20 exams each requiring you to complete no more than 95 questions in one hour. They are offered on the same day as the SAT, so if you choose to take the SAT II, you will need to do so on another date. Also, all the exams except for Chemistry consist only of multiple choice questions. Only the Mathematics exams allow calculators.

The fees are relatively simple. You pay $22 for registration and $11 per exam, unless you are taking a language exam with a listening component, which will then cost you $22. For example, if you are taking a maths and a science exam, you will pay a total of $44 (registration + 2 non-listening exams). If you’re also taking a language exam with a listening component, then you’ll pay $66. Simple, right? But what tests are offered? Well, here they are:

  • English Literature
  • U.S. History
  • World History
  • Mathematics Level 1 (Algebra, Geometry, Elementary Statistics, etc.)
  • Mathematics Level 2 (Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Elementary Functions/Pre-Calculus, Statistics, etc.)
  • Biology E/M (Ecology/Molecular)
  • Chemistry (General, NOT Organic)
  • Physics
  • Chinese with Listening
  • French
  • French with Listening
  • German
  • German with Listening
  • Modern Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese with Listening
  • Korean with Listening
  • Latin
  • Spanish
  • Spanish with Listening

Okay, now that you know what’s offered, the real question is WHY would you put yourself through MORE tests?! Seems crazy! Perhaps even ridiculous!! Well, there
are a few reasons for you to strongly consider sitting for these exams.

First, many colleges, particularly the top colleges in the U.S., actually require that you take at least two SAT IIs. Some only strongly recommend it...but when a college strongly recommends something, they essentially require it. And some will only look at you if you’ve taken three SAT IIs.

Second, some programs recommend/require it. For example, if you’re interested in getting a degree in Engineering, you will likely have to take Chemistry or Physics, along with Mathematics 2. If you eventually want to be a doctor, then you really should consider taking Biology M.

Third, the unfortunate truth is that many colleges scrutinize international students more than they do American students. They want to make sure that you will be able to keep up with their other students. Therefore, show how amazing you are in some subject areas by succeeding on the SAT IIs, and thus make the admissions officers feel more comfortable accepting you.

Fourth, some colleges may give you credit for scoring well on particular exams. For example, if the college requires that you take a language class, and you score really well on a language SAT II, then you may actually be exempt from this requirement once you enter college.

Fifth, and most importantly, you can show the college that you are more than just a generic Indian. Show off! If you have interest in pursuing a degree in English Literature, then demonstrate what you already know. Perhaps you want to be an Environmental Scientist someday. Great! Sit for the Biology E exam. Or maybe you’ll completely shatter all stereotypes about Indians by rocking on the Korean with Listening exam.

So, think ahead. Do my prospective colleges require the SAT II? Do my majors of interest require this exam? Can any of these exams show off my interests and help me stand out? When do I need to sit for these exams to make sure they don’t conflict with the SAT? How and when should I start preparing?

Plan it all out so you can demonstrate to the colleges of your choice that you are an interesting individual worthy of acceptance. And the SAT II can help you succeed here.

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