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SAT IIs- When to take them

Question: Should my freshman son be taking the SAT II in Biology? He is just finishing up Bio 1.
Answer: No, he is not ready.
(Unless he is ready to learn Bio II before the test.)

The above question is one of many I get regarding the timing of SAT IIs.
You submit an SAT II score to show a college admissions board that you have mastered a subject. Some colleges require certain SAT II scores to determine your placement. In either case, mastery is rarely achieved in a beginning level course. This is not to say that an avid student might not score well, but that is usually with significant preparation beyond the basic material learned in class. SAT IIs are best taken after an advance course.
Here is a suggested timetable. Take the subject test as soon after completion of the course suggested. With all classes, take honors or AP if possible.

Foreign Languages: Language level 4
Sciences: Biology 2, Chemistry 2, Physics 2
Literature: AP Literature, English 3
Math Ic: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II
Math IIc: Pre-Calculus, or Algebra 3 with Trigonometry
US History: US History 2 or US I and US Government
World History: World History

As with anything you do, you know yourself best, so if you truly feel you are ready, go ahead and take the test. Do yourself a favor and familiarize yourself with the test information and format first by checking out the free test questions on And remember, studying for these tests is a good idea- they are a way to show colleges what you know and a great score will definitely be an advantage when acceptance decisions are made.
All the best!

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  • Vic kokodis · April 1, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    If a student is not as strong in math which test should he take SAT or ACT? Thanks

  • M. Brooks · April 1, 2010 at 10:59 am


    Such great information! I have 2 college-bound children and you have answered questions for me I didn’t even know I should be asking! I will be a frequent visitor to your blog.

    All the Best

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