SAT Subject Tests: Literature

Flickr user Chase Elliot Clark

Beyond the standard SAT are the SAT Subject Tests. These additional multiple-choice exams highlight a students skill and knowledge in specific areas. There are 22 tests total, spanning across multiple subjects. When it comes to English, there’s only one test—Literature.

Literature Overview

It’s all in the name. The Literature Subject Test allows the student to show their reading skills, literary analysis, and comprehension prowess across various genres and time periods. It’s a ideal way for English Majors to give a boost to their college application.

Literature Test Breakdown

This test is 60 minutes long, has 60 multiple choice questions, and is worth 200–800 points.


  • American Lit — 40–50%
  • English Lit — 40–50%
  • Other (written in English but coming from around the world) — 0–10%

Time Period:

  • Renaissance / 17th Century — 30%
  • 18th / 19th Century — 30%
  • 20th Century — 40%


  • Prose  — 40–50%
  • Poetry — 40–50%
  • Drama / Other — 0–10%

Prepping for the Test

The best way to prepare for the test? Read, read, read. Read often and read widely. Reading will familiarize you with vocabulary, literary tropes and themes, and help you critically analyze passages.

Understand literary terminology like: stanza, irony, metaphor, narrative voice. Be familiar with concepts like: characterization, imagery, word choice, structure, genre, and tone.

Check out how your SAT scores affect your acceptance odds with College Raptor’s free match tool!

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