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Chapter One: About the SAT II: U.S History Test
You're serious about going to the college of your choice. You wouldn't have opened this book otherwise. You've made a wise choice, because this book can help you to achieve your goal. It'll show you how to score your best on the SAT II: U.S. History Subject Test. The first step to a better score is to understand the test.
Frequently Asked Questions on the SAT II
The following information about the SAT II is important to keep in mind as you get ready to prep for the SAT II: U.S. History Subject Test. Remember, though, that sometimes the test makers change the test policies after a book has gone to press. The information here is accurate at the time of publication but it's a good idea to check the test information on the College Board website at collegeboard.com.
What Is the SAT II?
The SAT II is actually a set of more than 20 different Subject Tests. These tests are designed to measure what you have learned in such subjects as literature, physics, biology, and Spanish. Each test lasts one hour and consists entirely of multiple-choice questions, except for the Writing Test, which has a 20-minute essay section and a 40-minute multiple-choice section. On any one testdate, you can take up to three Subject Tests.
How Does the SAT II Differ from the SAT I?
SAT I is largely a test of verbal and math skills. True, you need to know some vocabulary and some formulas for the SAT I; but it's designed to measure how well you read and think rather than how much you remember. The SAT II tests are very different. They're designed to measure what you know about specific disciplines. Sure, critical reading and thinking skills play a part on these tests, but their main purpose is to determine exactly what you know about writing, math, history, physics, and so on.
How Do Colleges Use the SAT II?
Many people will tell you that the SATs (I and II alike) are flawed -- that they measure neither your reading and thinking skills nor your level of knowledge. But these people don't work for colleges. Those schools that require SATs feel that they are an important indicator of your ability to succeed in college. Specifically, they use your scores in one or both of two ways: to help them make admissions and/or placement decisions.
Like the SAT I, the SAT II tests provide schools with a standard measure of academic performance, which they use to compare you with applicants from different high schools and different educational backgrounds. This information helps them to decide whether you're ready to handle their curriculum.
SAT II scores may also be used to decide what course of study is appropriate for you once you've been admitted. A low score on the Writing Test, for example, might mean that you have to take a remedial English course. Conversely, a high score on an SAT II: Mathematics Test might mean that you'll be exempted from an introductory math course.
Which SAT II Tests Should I Take?
The simple answer is: those that you'll do well on. High scores, after all, can only help your chances for admission. Unfortunately, many colleges demand that you take particular tests, usually the Writing Test and/or one of the Mathematics Tests. Some schools will give you a degree of choice in the matter, especially if they want you to take a total of three tests. Before you register to take any tests, therefore, check with the colleges you're interested in to find out exactly which tests they require. Don't rely on high school guidance counselors or admissions handbooks for this information. They might not give you accurate or current information.
When Are the SAT II Tests Administered?
Most of the SAT II tests, including U.S. History, are administered six times a year: in October, November, December, January, May, and June. A few of the tests are offered less frequently. Due to admissions deadlines, many colleges insist that you take the SAT II no later than December or January of your senior year in high school. You may even have to take it sooner if you're interested in applying for "early admission" to a school. Those schools that use scores for placement decisions only may allow you to take the SAT II as late as May or June of your senior year. You should check with colleges to find out which test dates are most appropriate for you.
How Do I Register for the SAT II?
The College Board&#!74; administers the SAT II tests, so you must sign up for the tests with them. The easiest way to register is to obtain copies of the SAT Registration Bulletin and Taking the SAT II: Subject Tests. These publications contain all of the necessary information, including current test dates and fees. They can be obtained at any high school guidance office or directly from the College Board. You can also find information online at collegeboard.com.
In fact, with a credit card, you can register online rather than through the mail. You can also reregister by telephone if you have previously registered for an SAT I or SAT II test. If you choose these options, you should still read the College Board publications carefully before you make any decisions.
How Are the SAT II Tests Scored?
Like the SAT I, the SAT II tests are scored on a 200-800 scale.
What's a "Good" Score?
That's tricky. The obvious answer is: the score that the colleges of your choice demand. Keep in mind, though, that SAT II scores are just one piece of information that colleges will use to evaluate you. The decision to accept or reject you will be based on many criteria, including your high school transcript, your SAT I scores, your recommendations, your personal statement, your interview (where applicable), your extracurricular activities, and the like. So, failure to achieve the necessary score doesn't automatically mean that your chances of getting in have been damaged.
What If I Get Sick During the Test or Really Blow It?
If, after taking the test, you have serious doubts about your performance on the test and believe for any reason the score will not reflect your abilities, you may cancel your score. Cancelling your score means that the score will not become part of your test record or be reported to colleges. You must submit the necessary paperwork by the Wednesday after the test. Once your scores are cancelled you may not reinstate them. If you took more than one SAT test on the same date, you must cancel all scores for that date. More information is available at collegeboard.com.
The College Board used to offer a service known as Score Choice that allowed you to look at your scores and then decide whether or not you wanted the score on a particular SAT test to be included on your permanent score record that colleges get. That option is no longer available. Unless you cancel your score, it will automatically become part of your permanent record to be reported to schools.
What Should I Bring to the SAT II?
It's a good idea to get your test materials together the day before the tests. You'll need an admission ticket; a form of identification (check the Registration Bulletin to find out what is permissible); a few sharpened No. 2 pencils; and a good eraser. (Note that calculators are not allowed on any of the SAT II tests except for Math Level IC and Math Level IIC.) If you'll be registering as a standby, collect the appropriate forms beforehand. Also, make sure that you know how to get to the test center.
Understanding the SAT II: U.S. History Test
Now that you know the basics about the SAT II: Subject Tests, it's time to focus on the U.S. History Test. What's on it? How is it scored? After reading this chapter, you'll know what to expect on Test Day.
The SAT II: U.S. History Subject Test expects you to have a mastery of the concepts and principles covered in a one-year, college-prep U.S. history class. This one-hour exam consists of 95 multiple-choice questions covering topics from our nation's earliest days through the present. It covers items of social, economic, political, intellectual, cultural history, and foreign policy. Here is the approximate percentage of questions covering these items that appear on the test:
Topics Approximate Percentage of Test
Political History 32-36%
Economic History 18-20%
Social History 18-22%
Intellectual and Cultural History 10-12%
Foreign Policy 13-17%
The best preparation is to complete a one-year survey course in American history at the college-preparatory or AP level. A great majority of the test questions are derived from commonly taught subject matter in such a course in secondary schools. No one text or mode of instruction is better than another. The test questions are written to measure knowledge, skills, and abilities. According to the College Board, the questions may:
Challenge you to recall standard information concerning facts, dates, people, terms, concepts, and generalizations.
Ask you to analyze and interpret visual material, including charts, cartoons, graphs, paintings, photographs, and maps.
Require you to relate to given data.
Direct you to evaluate data for a specific purpose. This would be done as you make your judgment on evidence such as proof and consistency, or on external criteria, i.e., via comparison with other theories, works, and standards.
This exam is scored in a range from 200-800 (in multiples of ten), just like a section of the SAT I. Your raw score is calculated by subtracting 1/4 of the number of questions you got wrong of questions you got right.
This raw score is then compared to all the other test takers' scores to come up with a scaled score. This scaling takes into account any slight variations between test administrations. On a recent administration, it was possible to miss 10 questions and still receive a scaled score of 800. A raw score of 65 on a 1995 SAT II: U.S. History Test translated into a 730. So, you can miss a few questions and still receive a competitive score.
Copyright © 2004 by Kaplan, Inc.
Excerpted from SAT II by Kaplan Copyright © 2004 by Kaplan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted October 10, 2004
As a teacher of AP U.S. History myself, students typically ask me what is the best book to study for the AP exam as well as the SAT II. For the SAT II test in U.S. history, I think that this Kaplan book is the best around. Many of my students also use the review section to study for the AP exam. (I do not, however, recommend using the practice tests in this book to study for the AP; the multiple choice questions on the two tests are very different.) The review is very detailed, but not overly dense. Overall, a good study resource.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.