Taking SAT Subject Tests Experience | Pengalaman Mengambil SAT Subject Tests

Many of you probably are curious how to register and how it feels to take the tests. I think there are only a few Indonesians who told their experiences of taking the test on the internet, either in blogs or facebook. Err, to be honest, I did not even find one. I would like to tell you my experience.

1. What are SAT Subject Tests?

The SAT Tests are primarily used only for US undergraduate admissions, although Asian universities like KAIST, HKU, HKUST, and NUS acknowledge the test as well. There are two types of the tests:

a. SAT Reasoning Test (also known as SAT I)

It is quite tantamount to "Tes TPA" in Indonesia. The test will evaluate three skills: Critical Reading, Math, and Writing. It has ten sections. Look at the website for more information.

My opinion? You want to get 2100, or even 2200+? Warning: do not take the test, especially if you rarely read reading materials that have lots of high-level vocabulary words. This warning is intended especially to the guys who are clueless about the SAT and to students who only study at regular public schools (no racism intended) like me, not international christian/catholic/boarding schools.

I once took few practice tests. The critical reading sections are a real pain in the ass. Words like grandiloquent, brouhaha, magnanimous, resilient, etc. often show up. When a passage from a novel shows up, I have no idea what that passage means.. The writing sections are also hard. 25-minute essay is a big trouble for me. I must say that the math is abso-freaking-lutely easy if you do math well in high school.

Just do not take the test except your reading and writing scores of TOEFL exceed 28+, because even native test takers think the test is difficult. This test needs a lot of preparations, especially broading your knowledge about vocabulary and writing samples. This time, I do not want to discuss this test as I myself have not taken the test yet.

b. SAT Subject Tests (also known as SAT II)

SAT Subject Tests evaluate you in a particular subject, e.g. Chemistry, Math, Physics, English Literature, etc. In one day, you can take up to three subject tests.

The tests are actually similar to Ujian Nasional 2014 (the hard one)! You can also score perfectly even though your answers on some questions are wrong. In my case, I left some answers blank because I do not have time though. For instance, I left 2 blanks in my Math Level 2 test and 3 blanks in the Physics test. Well I was actually unsure with another 6 questions in Physics but I just guessed them lol.

2. Registering and Fees

Register at http://sat.collegeboard.org/. For the SAT Subject Tests, you can take up to three tests. US universities usually require two subject tests (one in math and one in science). I can actually only take two tests, but as the fee difference is not that much, I chose to take three subjects: Math Level 2, Chemistry, and Physics.

Additionally, you need to pick universities that you want to send the scores. You might leave it blank at first. Also, you CAN request the results paper to your home if you wish to. To do this, you need to finish the registration, including the payment, and then log in to nsat.collegeboard.com with your username. There is a score sending preference (if I'm not mistaken) menu. In that website, you can also list and change your score destinations until the deadline. For instance, I took the test on 24th January, and I can still change my score destinations until 2nd February.

For the fees, you might want to look http://sat.collegeboard.org/register/intl-services-fees. This is the general fee for an international student:
$26: Basic Fee
$42 (for East Asia/Pacific): International Process Fee
+$26: /Language + Listening Tests Fee
+$16: /Other Subject Tests Fee

For example, because I selected 3 non-listening subjects, then my fees would be 26 + 42 + 16x3 (three tests) = $116. Well, quite expensive huh, but thankfully it is not as expensive as taking the TOEFL. Oh yeah, I registered for the January test. I paid the test by using PayPal.

For those of you who only have mononymous or single name (like I do), I once asked the College Board and it said you will need to write your last name as "Noname".

3. Preparations (Book reviews)

Almost all of the subjects are covered in high school, except for few chapters on math, but it's better to read some preparatory books. FYI, I prepared one month prior to the test by taking important notes from some awesome preparatory books. Let's review the books! As I only take CH PH and MAT2, I recommend you these books:

1. Barron's Math Level 1/2
(For you Indonesian fellows, there are no derivatives and integrals in the test, but you need to learn conic sections, some functions (odd/even function), and some statistics (regression) as these are not taught in schools. )

I actually only used the level 2 book. This book provides great explanations! I enjoy taking notes from the book. Aanndd the practice tests are VERY TOUGH. But do not worry, if you are used to this book, you will definitely ace the real test!

I scored only 680-740 on all practice tests.

2. Princeton Review's Cracking the SAT Physics
(For Indonesians, all chapters are covered in school. No worries.)

The explanations here are not that great. It's not listed in points, and I am easily bored with paragraph explanations. But really, if you want to ace the test, you might want to review.

There is a MUST however. The practice questions are definitely helpful. In my case, some questions fixed my misconceptions about particular fundamentals. Also DO THE PRACTICE TESTS! There are only two tests, but these tests are absolutely similar to the real test. I once used the McGrawhill's, and guess what, the practice tests are NOWHERE to the real test.

I scored 780 and 800 on the two practice tests.

3. Barron's Chemistry and PR's Cracking the SAT Chemistry
(For Indonesians, all chapters are covered in school, but I strongly recommend you read the book because there are lots of theories that you might want to learn, especialy things related to laboratory experiments)

I am the weakest (although I am still considered good) at Chemistry. For the reading materials, I used Barron's books. Barron's explanations are just comprehensible and thorough! You do not have to memorize the Laboratory chapter though as the questions did not pop out in my test. Practice tests are also good for additional knowledge.

Do all of the practice questions and practice tests in PR's book. PR's practice tests are more 'quite' similar to the real test compared to Barron's. Can't remember my practice test scores on both books, but the scores range arbitrarily from low 600 to 800 lol.

It's hard to find these books in Indonesia. If you want these things illegally free, you can search these books on torrent. Just search on kickass.to and you will find these books.

I was about to buy the SAT Subject Tests Official Guide (no e-book), but I do not think it is necessary... I mean, you do not want to study Chinese and French yet these books contain these subjects. The only positive thing is that the book gives you official practice test, but I believe PR's practice tests are already sufficient.

4. Test Day
It was on Saturday, 24th of January. I took the test at Pribadi Bilingual Boarding School in Bandung. Most of you are probably concerned whether you are allowed to bring phones or not. I did not bring one though haha, but other test takers brought theirs and I think it was fine. The test proctors will take care of it. I was the 'one and only' SAT Subject Tests taker in the school whereas other students took the SAT Test. Well, I guess it's a jackpot because I could concentrate well! And if you wonder what "No. 2" Pencils are, while the internet suggests that these pencils are equivalent to HB pencils, my test proctors suggested me to use 2B pencils. Therefore, just bring both types of pencil.

Upon arriving, you will be asked to show your identity (passport etc.) and the printed SAT admission ticket that can be downloaded. My printer was bad and I had a trouble with my dark photo. I was so damn afraid that I would be not allowed to take the test, but after around 2-3 minutes, the test proctor finally allowed me. So I guess it's better to make sure that your identity on your test ticket is right and the photo quality is good.

All of the tests, even including other tests (Literature, Biology, etc.) are compiled in one test book. So basically, you will first fill in the identity on the answering sheet. After that, you can take the tests in any order that you want. Ask the proctor which test you want to take first (for example, I chose Chemistry first), and you will open the page in the book where the Chemistry test is located. Remember, calculator is ONLY ALLOWED for the math test. Each test took one hour, and there is a 5-minute break between each test.

Well I guess it is time for test review:

1. Math
I think you will be tremendously relieved when you have practiced using the Barron's book. This test is easy! The two questions that I could not answer were about vector and probability. Make sure you bring A CALCULATOR. Scientific calculator is enough, as I brought graphing one yet I did not use it.

2. Physics
It was quite hard. Very similar to PR's two practice tests. There were a lot of theories like prism (this was unexpected and there were two questions), supernova theory, other wtf theories, etc. At the end of the test, I left 9 questions blank, but managed to guess 6 questions.

3. Chemistry
Fairly easy, yet I was clueless about some experiments. Also, the True-False questions are full of traps. Read carefully.

5. Results
Thankfully, I received the score on the scheduled date, 12th February! I was waiting all day long in campus, repeatedly cheking my phone. I even got a 50 on programming basics quiz as my mind got thoroughly distracted -_-. But anyway, I got the scores after I arrived at my home. It was around 5 pm. Taadaa, the scores are actually as I predicted!

Nice scores eh? I thought that I would score much lower on Chemistry xD

The website said that Collegeboard sent the score on 10th February to my desired universities. I was confused though whether the scores will be sent to my home or not. Although it does not really matter, but it's just something that I want to collect lol. 

Well, in the end, I hope that this article will help you preparing for the tests! 


  1. Halo thank's for sharing

    I will taking SAT in this december but i have a problem with the personal identification.
    I recently moved out from my old house but i haven't update my ID address yet so it's still written my old address in my ID, what should i fill in the application? My new house address or my old one?

    1. Hello, Cris.

      Your mailing address is not important unless you want the personal printed results to be sent to your home. If there is indeed no proof that you have moved, it might be better to just use your old address although you will not receive the printed results. This is because you need to write your address and ZIP code on the answer sheet.

      However, if you really crave for your personal results (it is not useful either as universities only accept results that are sent directly to them), you might want to ask your problem solution to the College Board at https://sat.collegeboard.org/contact . Hopefully you will find your answer.

    2. Halo again,
      It's been a while since i posted my comment here. I just want to thankyou for your informations in this blog that really helpful.
      I already got accepted to my dream university abroad but decided to stay in indonesia and enrolled at one of indonesian prestigious state university. I just want to ask you where are you persuing your college degree right now? I mean with those stellar SAT scores and killer TOEFL score.
      Thx :)

    3. Hi Criss, sorry for the long overdue reply.

      Those scores are intended for first year university transfer from ITB to HKUST . Unfortunately, I got rejected even with those scores (the requirements were only TOEFL and university transcripts). Was extremely sad as I've lost a lot of money and quite depressed for months. Nonetheless, 3 years later (this year :D) I've graduated from ITB, and I couldn't be any happier!

      I wonder what made you decide to stay in Indonesia. But still, as for me, I wouldn't have met the most precious and smartest friends if I were admitted abroad. Staying close to my mother has allowed to take care of her. I guess everything happens for a good reason, huh? I hope your decision to stay for whatever reason was the best choice you had to make :D

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Kak mau nanya, kalo score maksimal untuk science berapa? Dan average nya berapa? Makasih kak

    1. Hi Arga. Setiap subject max scorenya 800, baik subjectnya science atau bukan. No offense tapi kalo pertanyaan kaya gitu tolong cari di Google sendiri ya, gimana cara saya hafal average tiap subject :(.

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  5. I just found your blog and I couldn't resist to say thank you for your article! I'm confuse to choose either old SAT or SAT subject test, then I look up for article about SAT and your blog popped out. And I'm amaze at your score, that score is literally my goal. I think I will take SAT in January 2018, do you think I have enough time if I start studying right now despite the fact I have no idea about SAT and I'm not in the level where my english is great?

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