So spring is definitely here, and we’re well into the time of year when you’ll be hearing plenty about the Advanced Placement (AP) and SAT Subject (SAT II) exams.
You might be thinking that there’s very little difference between the two and that both test your knowledge of a specific subject or skill – and to an extent you’d be right. But there are subtle differences in timing, in testing method, and in how you share these scores that our team of experienced standardized test tutors and academic tutors in New York City, in Boston, and online are ready to share with you all year round.
What’s the difference between the SAT subject tests and the APs?
Here’s the simple rule: many more people are taking the SAT subject tests and they need to be graded fast – so SAT subject tests are almost all made up of exclusively multiple choice questions. The AP tests your knowledge of a subject a little more thoroughly and always requires some type of free response answer – for AP history classes this means a series of essays, for subjects like AP biology, AP chemistry, and maths this can include essays, balancing equations, and writing out proofs. With this in mind, you’ll also want to remember the differences in how colleges look at your results on these tests. Broadly speaking, SAT II scores matter more for admission (you might be asked to provide all your SAT II scores, or maybe just the three best) while AP results help in ascertaining the credit you’ll be awarded on entering college. But remember that these aren’t hard and fast rules – college counsellors and admissions officers from the different colleges you’re applying to can give you more specific advice on their tailored approaches to these scores.
How to prepare?
So what’s you’re approach going to be in preparation for these different exams? My advice to the students I tutor in New York is to consider whether or not they’re going to take preparation for the AP exam seriously – if they are, then they have a great opportunity to piggy back the SAT on just a few weeks later in June. Your high school academics should be well-aligned to the topics covered on the test, so that helps! Once AP prep is out of the way, a few weeks to tailor an approach to the less demanding exam is usually the perfect amount of time. For both exams, and for almost every subject be it US History, World Civilizations, Physics B or Physics C, you’ll want to master the art of answering a lot of questions really fast and with an eye to detail – the best way to do this is through lots of practice questions, and our experienced tutors have plenty for you.