SAT Subject Tests: Physics

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Flickr user Shannon Kokoska

You’ve taken (or will take) the SAT or ACT, but have you considered the benefits of the SAT Subject Tests? If you have a strong background in physics and are wishing to pursue a career in this science field, you can give your college applications a strong boost with the Physics test. Here’s a rundown of what you need to know.

Physics Overview

For the SAT Subject Test in physics, you should be comfortable with the fundamental concepts and ideas behind the subject and be able to complete single concept or multiple concept problems. If you’re interested in working in some fields in engineering, IT, or in a lab after graduation, this can be a great addition to your application.

Physics Breakdown

The Physics test lasts one hour and features 75 multiple choice questions. The entire exam is worth 200 to 800 points. However, it’s important to plan ahead and study properly as a calculator is not allowed. Math questions on this test require simple calculations using the metric system, so you should be fine without one.

Content of the Physics Test:

  • Mechanics: 36% — 42%
  • Electricity and Magnetism: 18% — 24%
  • Waves and Optics: 15% — 19%
  • Heat and Thermodynamics: 6% — 11%
  • Modern Physics: 6% — 11%
  • Miscellaneous: 4% — 9%

Prepping for the Test

Like with any test, the Physics Subject Test requires prep and study. You should be covering the basics to the more advanced concepts you learned during your high school class. This can include looking at your textbook or notes. It’s important to understand just how these concepts apply to problems and the math behind it. Laboratory skills are also required.

Some concepts you should be studying for include kinematics, magnetism, ray optics, thermal properties, relativity, and contemporary physics.

In addition to studying the text or notes, consider joining a study group at your high school. You will also want to make sure you’re taking practice SAT Subject Tests online so you know exactly where your strengths and weaknesses lie in Physics. You can then dedicate your extra time to those weaker areas. Consider talking to your physics teacher for any extra assistance or advice.

SAT Subject Tests give you the opportunity to show a college that you’re sincerely interested in a subject and serious in pursuing it at school, but also displays your knowledge in the subject matter. If you’re considering a degree in physics or even a related field, this Subject Test could provide you with a great addition for your college applications.

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


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