Subject Test Prep Online: The Essentials

The SAT Subject Tests are a collection of twenty hour-long, subject-specific tests that focus on subjects traditionally offered to students in high schools throughout the United States. Colleges use these tests in their admissions processes in various ways, with many schools requiring the submission of two SAT Subject Tests. Due to the ongoing pandemic, traditional in-person test prep is no longer a viable option for many students. This means that online SAT Subject Test prep can be an important step in your college application process. Fortunately, Inspirica offers online SAT Subject Test prep in a variety of ways, allowing students to access tutoring regardless of geographic region or COVID-19 restrictions.  Because Subject Tests should showcase a student’s specific strengths, students usually only take SAT Subject Tests in areas they already know fairly well. Thus, online SAT Subject Test prep is typically shorter than other areas of test preparation and usually involves two full-length mock tests. Most students take each Subject Test twice at most and plan their Subject Test dates far in advance . Here, we will introduce you to the format of the Subject Tests, SAT Subject Test scoring,  Subject Test registration, and Inspirica’s approach to online SAT Subject Test prep. 

Here is the complete list of Subject Tests we tutor:

  • Mathematics Level 1 and Level 2
  • Biology E/M
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • United States History
  • World History
  • Literature
  • Latin
  • Spanish
  • French
  • German

SAT Subject Test Format

While each SAT Subject Test is different, each is exactly one hour long. Understanding the specific format of the SAT Subject Tests is key to performing well on a given test. The tests vary in number of questions, but most have between 50 and 80 questions. This means that you may have less than a minute per question; therefore, you should always remember that a given SAT Subject Test’s format is  part of its difficulty. Most Subject Tests are structured as traditional multiple-choice exams, but several of the tests have “matching” questions in which students match multiple-choice answers to a list of definitions. Notably, the Chemistry test has a unique 15-question true/false section that can require extensive preparation. Finally, you may take six of the nine language tests with our without listening sections.

SAT Subject Test Scoring

Raw Scores

First, testers receive a raw score that is the equal to the number of questions correctly answered minus a fraction of a point for every wrong answer:

  • 1/4 point is subtracted for incorrect five-choice questions
  • 1/3 point is subtracted for incorrect four-choice questions
  • 1/2 point is subtracted for incorrect three-choice questions
  • No points are deducted for unanswered questions, making guessing and skipping strategies essential to test-day success

The resulting raw score is then converted to a scaled SAT Subject Test score of 200 to 800 points, the same scale used on individual sections of the SAT.


As with the SAT, the statistical process known as equating is used to ensure that scores are comparable across five years’ worth of testing results. Among other things, this guarantees that there is no advantage to taking the test on one testing date over another. Each Subject Test has its own scale, so the raw score required any given scaled score varies widely from test to test. In some instances, such as the Math Level 1, students require a near-perfect raw score to get a perfect scaled score. In others, such as the Math Level 2, students can miss several questions and still receive a perfect scaled score. Finally, admissions offices use percentile ranks to compare these individual scaled scores to the entire group of testers.

SAT Subject Test Score Reporting

Once you receive your scores, usually two weeks after testing, you may send them to the college of your choice using the College Board’s website. This process is typically all you need to do in order to include test scores as part of your college application, but check with your school college counselor to make sure you haven’t missed anything. SAT Subject Test results never expire, so you can use results for years after you take the test.

There is only one reported score on each SAT Subject Test, so there are no opportunities for superscoring. However, if you decide to test more than once, you may choose which of the scores you send using the College Board’s Score Choice program as part of your application. Many students therefore take each test twice in order to take advantage of the opportunities this program provides.

SAT Subject Test Registration and Test Dates

Test Dates

The College Board offers six administrations for SAT Subject Test dates annually, almost always at the same times and places as the SAT, with only the March test date not offering these tests. Because the SAT and the SAT Subject Tests take place at the same time, students cannot take both on the same day, requiring advanced planning for those students intending to submit scores from both tests with their applications.

Further complicating matters, testers may take up to three Subject Tests on the same day, but not every topic is offered on every test date, so students need to carefully plan out their testing calendar and SAT Subject Test registration in relation to their other obligations.  While there are opportunities for late registration, for a fee, it is always in a student’s best interest plan for SAT Subject Test registration well in advance. Fortunately, students can easily register for the SAT Subject Tests online.


Students can register for as many Subject Tests as they like, though most students take no more than three subjects during the entire testing process.  While up to three tests can be taken on any given test date, we recommend most students limit themselves to two, as fatigue often affects performance on the later tests of the day. Due to the subject-specific nature of the test, many students’ Subject Test prep will vary by year, with a student focusing on one or two tests in a given school year.

On test day, you may choose to take your tests in whichever order you like, which will be part of the SAT Subject Test prep strategy you discuss with your tutor. Generally speaking, the College Board reports SAT Subject test scores to students within two weeks of testing, with only the June results taking longer. Visit the College Board website for more information about SAT Subject Test registration, subjects offered, and available SAT Subject Test dates.

Inspirica’s Approach to Subject Test Preparation

The SAT Subject Tests are shorter than the other standardized tests we tutor. They do, however, cover fewer topics in much greater depth. Online SAT Subject Test prep programs are therefore usually short, often no more than four to six weeks. Only the science tests tend to require multi-month programs. When students plan to take these tests in conjunction with their Advanced Placement (AP) Tests , however, preparation tends to be longer. In these cases, programs usually begin in February or March and continuing through the summer test dates. Since AP classes tend to be the most difficult classes a student will take in high school, our Academic Support Center is a phenomenal resource for students who need occasional homework help. On the other hand, some students choose to do their SAT Subject Test prep online utilizing consistent Subject Specific Tutoring throughout the academic year.

Online Test Prep: The Platform

Depending on how you decide to go through your online SAT Subject Test preparation, you may end up using our Academic Support Center, Subject Specific Tutoring, or both. Regardless of how you choose to prepare for your test, you will meet with your SAT Subject Test tutor remotely using our Inspirica Anywhere platform on Zoom.  We will work with you to match you to a tutor who aligns your availability and learning style. On our online SAT Subject Test platform, you can see your tutor’s availability in realtime and sign up for sessions at your convenience. Completing your SAT Subject Test tutoring online is incredibly convenient for students, as you can simply sign up for your sessions based on your and your SAT subject test tutor’s availability.

In sessions, tutors begin with an overview of the main content areas covered by a given test. They will then use the results of a diagnostic test to focus on specific areas of weakness. In the early sessions, work focuses on understanding the role the SAT Subject Test’s format plays in test scores, including the roles of timing, question sequencing and omission, and the importance of avoiding the penalty for incorrect guesses. As students become more comfortable with the test’s structure, tutors spend more time on specific areas. Using official materials is key to developing this comfort level. Thus, we ground practice in official materials as often as possible. 

The best time to plan an SAT Subject Test date is the end of the school year in which a student took the subject. This maximizes the likelihood the information will still be fresh in each student’s mind. Because each school system and teacher offers their own take on each subject, no student comes in having covered every topic on the test. Tutors will often address new concepts in online SAT Subject Test tutoring sessions, each requiring additional study between sessions. 

SAT Subject Test prep online will also include a number of practice tests using official materials. Your tutor will help you determine the best schedule for taking these tests prior to your first test date.

Get Started with Subject Test Prep Online Today

To learn more, schedule a free phone consultation with our Program Coordinators today!

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