First things first: the SAT Subject Tests are each an hour long. So if you were worried that the subject tests were as long as the general SAT, breathe easy! They’re quite a bit shorter. That means that you can take up to three of them on any given day that they’re offered.
Number of Questions on an SAT Subject Test
The physical length of the tests will vary, even though the timing doesn’t. There are 20 SAT Subject Tests in five different areas: English, history, languages, mathematics and science. It’s a good idea to know approximately how many minutes per question you have going in to test day, as this can range widely, from Mathematics with 50 questions to World History with almost twice that. As of March 2016, the number of questions per test was:
English: approximately 60 (Multiple Choice)
US History: 90 (Multiple Choice)
World History: 95 (Multiple Choice)
Spanish: 85 (Multiple Choice)
Spanish with Listening: approximately 85 (Multiple Choice)
French: 85 (Multiple Choice)
French with Listening: approximately 85 (Multiple Choice)
Chinese with Listening: 70-75 (Multiple Choice)
Italian: 80-85 (Multiple Choice)
German: 85 (Multiple Choice)
German with Listening: approximately 85 (Multiple Choice)
Modern Hebrew: 85 (Multiple Choice)
Latin: 70-75 (Multiple Choice)
Japanese with Listening: 80 (Multiple Choice)
Korean with Listening: 80 (Multiple Choice)
Mathematics 1: 50 (Multiple Choice)
Mathematics 2: 50 (Multiple Choice)
Biology E/M: 80 (Multiple Choice)
Chemistry: 65 (Multiple Choice)
Physics: 75 (Multiple Choice)
Choosing Subject Tests
It’s not a great idea to choose your Subject Tests based on how many or how few questions they have! A test with fewer questions means that each wrong answer knocks more points off your score, while a test with more questions means that time becomes more of a factor. Go with your strongest subjects to show colleges where your academic strengths lie.
Because they all take an hour to complete, one great thing about the SAT Subject Tests is that, for the most part, you can change the subjects you take right up until the proctor hands you the test booklets. Be careful, though! There are some exceptions to this. In the first place, not all of the subject tests are offered on every test date. In the second place, if you’ve signed up for a language test with listening—or you’ve just decided you want to do one—the test center probably won’t be able to accommodate you, unless you’ve registered for a listening test in advance.
A Note on Subject Test Scoring
Even though the Subject Tests only take an hour each, they’re still scored on the 200-800 scale used for the general SAT sections—so a lot of students will be on familiar ground there.
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About Rachel Kapelke-Dale
Rachel is a High School and Graduate Exams blogger at Magoosh. She has a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University, an MA from the Université de Paris VII, and a PhD from University College London. She has taught test preparation and consulted on admissions practices for over eight years. Currently, Rachel divides her time between the US and London. Follow Rachel on Twitter, or learn more about her writing here!
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