What’s the Difference Between SAT Subject Tests and AP Test?

So let me get this straight, if I take an AP class then I can take the AP exam and maybe get college credit. But the university I’m applying to also wants me to take 2 SAT subject tests. Do I have to take them both? What’s the difference?

Well, both tests are created by College Board. However, there are more options available for AP exams than the SAT subject tests. The biggest difference is going to be the level of the content being tested. The SAT subject tests are high school-level tests. That means that the content being tested is what you would have learned in a high school class. Simple enough.

The AP exams, on the other hand, are a college-level exam. The content being tested goes more in-depth than that of a subject test. College-level coursework, while potentially helpful, is not necessarily required in order to score well on a subject test.

Here’s a table to help you make sense of it all.

SAT Subject TestsAP Exams
Content LevelHigh School College
Test AvailabilityCan take up to 3 ST per test date (usually 6 test dates per school year)All tests offered over a 2 week period at the beginning of May; scheduled morning or afternoon
Why take them?Used to strengthen a college application; occasionally used to pass out of intro. level coursesWith a score of 4 or 5, most colleges will grant credit for the course
Do I have to take a corresponding class?No, but the AP coursework will set you up nicely for the STNo, you can take the test without taking the AP class, but I would recommend doing quite a bit of studying
Does it help my college application?Yes, having great scores on ST will strengthen your app. Some schools require them, too.Yes, having just taken the class will show how well you are able to handle college-level coursework. Receiving a good score on the exams doesn't hurt either.

Have more questions about the SAT subject tests? Take a peek at some of my other articles:

When to take the SAT subject tests

How many SAT subject tests you should take