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Articles / Preparing for College / Why and When You Should Take the SAT Spanish Subject Test

Jan. 2, 2020

Why and When You Should Take the SAT Spanish Subject Test

Why and When You Should Take the SAT Spanish Subject Test

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When it comes to SAT Subject Tests, you've got plenty of options. In fact, you have about 20 different tests to choose from in five subject areas. Some of these tests might directly boost your application: If you're applying to a science-based program, the SAT Subject Test in Biology (or Chemistry, or Physics) could help you stand out in a competitive field. You might not realize it, but the SAT Subject Test in Spanish (or the Spanish with Listening Subject Test) might also have an immediate benefit. Here are two situations in which that's the case, as well as a guide to when you should attempt this test.

Why Take the SAT Spanish Subject Test

There are two reasons why you might want to take the SAT Subject Test in Spanish. The first is if the college that you're applying to requires you to have taken some subject tests, and they don't care which ones. (Note that on the other hand, some schools, like NYU, do care, and might not accept foreign language tests.) The second is if the college you're applying to will use your subject test results to place you into an appropriate level of that language.

In both of these cases, whether you take the Spanish Subject Test or not comes down to your comfort level. If you're strong in Spanish, this can be an easy way to check off a subject test requirement. If you're trying to avoid starting over with Spanish from scratch in college, a decent subject test score may help you make that case, or at the very least avoid having to take an on-campus placement test.

To Listen or Not to Listen

Once you've decided to take the SAT Spanish Subject Test, there's another decision to make: Whether you'll take the test with or without Listening. Yes, there are two versions of the Spanish test, each with its own structure and components. You'll want to choose the one that's most appropriate based on your skillset.

If you have a lot of experience speaking Spanish, the Spanish with Listening Subject Test may be more easily managed. On the other hand, if you learned most of your Spanish from reading a book (as many high school students do), you'll find the regular Spanish Subject Test to be formatted more similarly to how you're used to studying the language, which might make this the more comfortable option.

When to Take the Test

So that you have the opportunity to retake the test if needed, you should aim to take the Spanish Subject Test at some point in the middle of your third year of school (which should ideally also be your third year of taking the language). The Spanish with Listening Subject Test is only offered once a year, and because that'll be in May (as of 2021), you should aim to take it at the end of your second year. Unless you're already fluent in the language from outside of school, be sure that you've taken at least two years of the language, so that your vocabulary is large enough to grapple with the range of material covered on the SAT Subject Test.

If you need a more specific date for when to take the Spanish Subject Test (without Listening), note that there's no meaningful difference between the five options offered each year in August, October, December, May and June (here's the official list of test dates). The only difference between these tests is the preparedness that you bring to the table, so study up with our SAT Spanish Subject Test Prep and take the test when you're feeling comfortable with the material.

Written by

Rob Franek

Rob Franek

College Admissions and Test Prep Expert

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