SAT Exam Subjects for Science Students
Prior to the summer of 2021, students with an inclination for the sciences could show off their knowledge by taking science-related SAT subject tests covering molecular biology, ecological biology, chemistry, and physics.
While these subject tests are no longer offered by The College Board, students who are looking to go into STEM in college can still impress admissions officers by scoring in the top percentile on the SAT.
There’s a reason why STEM includes both math and science. In many ways, these subjects are closely related to one another. Although there are no science sections on the SAT, by doing well on the SAT Math section, students can show admissions officers that they have the critical thinking and analytical skills necessary to thrive in the STEM field.
If you’re interested in pursuing the sciences, the best strategy for you to use when taking the SAT is the scientific method.
Using the scientific method to prepare for the SAT
While there will not be any questions on the SAT that require the use of the scientific method, you can use this approach to score in the top percentile on the test.
As a future STEM major, you are probably well aware of the steps comprising the scientific method: making an observation and asking a question, formulating a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis and gathering data, analyzing this data, and drawing conclusions to act on in the future.
You can use the steps in the scientific method to study for the SAT. By taking this logical approach to preparing for the SAT, you will find yourself with a better chance of earning a great score:
Making an observation and asking a question
The first step to studying for the SAT is to determine your baseline score and see what steps you need to take to reach your target score.
First, look up the 75th percentile SAT scores for STEM majors who attend the colleges on your list, and use this information to determine the score you should be aiming for on the SAT.
Then you are going to take two SAT practice tests. Take a practice test under the same testing conditions and time limits that you will encounter when you take the actual test, and take a practice test where you give yourself unlimited time to answer every question.
After you calculate your scores on these tests, it will be time to make some observations:
- Did you have more trouble with the content of the test even with unlimited time?
- Were there some sections that gave you more trouble than others?
- Did you run out of time on every section?
- If you only ran out of time on some sections, on which sections did you run out of time?
- Did you have plenty of extra time left at the end of each section, but still answered many questions incorrectly?
- Were you able to answer almost all of the questions that you could get to in time correctly, but you ran out of time in certain sections?
Making observations about your scores will lead you to a question like How can I answer all of the questions with limited time? Or What do I need to do to improve my score on the Math-No Calculator section?
Formulate a hypothesis
Once you have a question, you will be able to form a hypothesis that you believe will answer the question.
For instance, say you noticed that you missed several questions when you had unlimited time, and your question is: What can I do to master the content so that I can get a perfect score on each section?
You might come up with the hypothesis that to master the content so that you can get a perfect score, you need to answer and review 1,000 practice questions, take an SAT prep course, or hire a private tutor.
Once you have done this, you will be able to test out your hypothesis and see if your prediction was correct.
Testing your hypothesis and gathering data
The next step in the process is to test your hypothesis and see if the data you gather supports your prediction.
If your hypothesis is that you need to answer and review 1,000 practice questions, then it’s up to you to put this prediction to the test. Use College Board resources to find practice questions, and make sure that you are not only answering these questions and checking your answers, but also reviewing what you miss. For each question you answer incorrectly, you should do a deep dive into why you got it wrong and how you can prevent yourself from making the same mistake in the future (which is another way you can use the scientific method).
After answering and reviewing 1,000 practice questions, take a practice test again, and see if your score improved.
If your hypothesis leads you to predict that your test outcome will be better after improving your time management skills, you can spend a couple of weeks practicing time management tips like temporarily skipping questions that take too long to answer, skimming reading passages, and memorizing instructions and key math formulas so you don’t have to waste time reading these materials in your test booklet.
After practicing with these new time management strategies, take a practice test again, and see how your score has changed.
If your hypothesis involves taking an SAT prep course or hiring a private tutor, try completing these services, and then retake a practice test to see your new score.
Analyze your data and draw conclusions
If you found that your score improved after you tested out your hypothesis, chances are your hypothesis was correct, and you will be able to continue your approach as you prepare for test day.
However, if your score did not improve, you will want to make new observations and come up with a new hypothesis to test.
If you answered and reviewed 1,000 practice questions, for example, and you did not see a score improvement, you will want to consider taking a prep course or trying a different approach for conquering the SAT. If you did see your score increase, then you know that continuing to use this method will prove effective.
Just because there is not a science section on the SAT, does not mean that you can’t use strategies that you would use for the sciences to do well on the test.
By using the scientific method to narrow down the best study approach for you, you will be better able to reach your target score and increase the likelihood that you will be accepted into a college or university with strong STEM programs.
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