What Do I Need to Know for the SAT 2?

5 Commonly Asked Questions Prior To
Taking the SAT 2

The SAT II (or SAT 2) is now a standard part of the college admissions process.

Unlike the SAT, the SAT II is comprised of short, focused tests. Each one takes an hour, and you can take up to three at any one sitting.

The SAT II is designed to test your knowledge of specific subjects (but not your problem-solving ability).

When taking the SAT II, you’ll want to choose your best subjects (keeping in mind whether or not you have a declared major).

It may be important that you show some range in subject matter as a Liberal Arts major,  or show your ability in Math and Science as an Engineering major.  And if you’re applying to a specifically focused school (engineering, again, as an example), the school may only want to see subject tests in that field. In this case, math and a few sciences would be important.

You’d also be wise to take the subject tests as close to the end of your coursework in that subject as possible – since the test will be going over your knowledge of the subject matter.

Regardless of which test(s) you take on the SAT II, you’ll want to know the answers to these five questions before you begin.

The 5 Most Common SAT and SAT II Questions

1. How late can I take the SAT/SAT II?

For early decision, you can take a test in October and still include it. For regular decision, you’ve got until December – and some schools will accept a January re-test. Read more about early admission here.

However, remember: The later you take the test, the less chance you have to improve your score. Also, with a test right up against the deadline, you might not have a chance to review your scores before sending them to colleges.

2. My test was a disaster; can I cancel my score?

You have until the Wednesday after taking the test to cancel. Don’t expect a refund – and, since all colleges will simply take your best score, you might be better off retaking the test. Unless you’ve got a good ACT score to fall back on, you’re still better off taking your current score and improving on it next testing period.

For the SAT II, you can only cancel a full day’s worth of scores. Thus, if you take three tests – and one scores well below the others – you can’t simply erase just that one. The only exception is “mechanical failure.” If a calculator breaks during a math test, for instance, or a CD player dies during a listening test. In that case, you have to notify your proctor IMMEDIATELY. This can’t be done retroactively.

3. How many SAT II tests do I need to take?

Many colleges requires two. Some elite schools require three.

They can be any of the following:


  • Literature


  • United States History
  • World History


  • Mathematics Level 1
  • Mathematics Level 2


  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics


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

Please note – schools don’t consider the two math tests as separate. If you take both, they’ll accept the better score – but the second test won’t count as two SAT II requirements.

4. I signed up for one SAT II section, but would prefer to take another. Can I change my selection the day of?

Absolutely, as far as the Educational Testing Service is concerned, you signed up for a test. If you signed up for one test – that’s equal to one hour of testing. Which one you take is entirely up to you. At the front of each test section, there’s a code you must write on your answer sheet. Just write the code for whichever test you’d like to take.

5. I signed up for two SAT II tests, but I’d like to take three. Can I change this the day of the test – or vice versa?

Yes. If you want to take an extra test, just alert your proctor. You’ll be billed later.

If, conversely, you want to skip a test, simply leave after completing your tests. You’ll still be billed for the unattended test, but that’s the only penalty you face.

DO NOT, however, hang around an extra test period. If you do, it’ll appear as if you spent the extra time working on your earlier tests. Your results will likely be voided – and, again, no refund.

Knowing these facts before going in, you can focus on what really matters: the tests themselves.

For more information on the SAT topic, you can pore through the SAT Test Tips & Help section of CollegeMadeSimple.com.

To your successful SAT,

Scott Weingold
Publisher, CollegeMadeSimple.com

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.