SAT Chemistry Subject Test

August 26, 2020
By AdmissionSight

SAT Chemistry Subject Test: Your Questions Answered

As high school students near graduation, they start to gain a better understanding of what tests they’ll need to take to accomplish their academic goals for college. While the standard SAT and ACT exams are well-known amongst students, many are surprised to hear about the SAT Subject Tests.

There are 20 different versions of this exam that cover a wide range of topics both in the humanities and in the sciences. The SAT Chemistry Subject Test is an important part of the admissions puzzle for students who are hoping to enter into the field both academically and professionally. This is especially true if you’re planning to attend a selective school that specializes in this area.

SAT scantron test

Even if you’re applying to a general college, having the SAT Chemistry Subject Test completed can help you stand out amongst the crowd of applicants. If you need help preparing for the exam or are still considering whether it’s in your best interest, we’re here to help you make the best decision possible based on your academic goals.

Here at AdmissionSight, we know what it takes to get into the college of your dreams. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide for anyone who needs to succeed at the SAT Chemistry Subject Test to accomplish their academic goals.

What is the SAT Chemistry Subject Test?

The SAT Chemistry Subject Test is a single test that focuses on testing students on several topics related to the field of chemistry. Although there’s no official requirement to complete the test, AdmissionSight recommends that any students remotely interested in pursuing a major in the field take the Chemistry Subject Test.

test tubes with different chemicals

To be sure, some colleges even require it from applicants. Similar to other SAT Subject Tests, this one is scored from 200 to 800. You have just one hour to complete the exam, and there are 85 questions on the test – all of which are multiple-choice. Like the Biology Subject Test, there are no calculators allowed during the Chemistry test. All numerical calculations required will be simple enough to do on your own. A periodic table, however, is provided to test takers. All measurements are given in metric system units.

What are the benefits of taking the SAT Chemistry Subject Test?

Between your high school finals, the SAT and ACT exams, and general college applications, you’re definitely not actively looking for any more work to do while transitioning from high school to college. When you come across something optional like the SAT Chemistry Subject Test arises, you’re probably wondering why it’s worthwhile. Here are some of the reasons why the experts at AdmissionSight advise students to take these Subject Tests:

  • Stand out to admission officers – One of the things college applicants struggle with the most is distinguishing themselves from the thousands of other students applying for the same position. Taking one or more of the Subject Tests is an easy way to set yourself apart by showing your willingness to go above and beyond in your studies.
  • Underscore your interest in the subject – When applying to a selective program or prestigious school, admission officers will look for proof that you’re sufficiently invested in a particular subject to warrant admittance. Passing the SAT Chemistry Subject Test is a great way to illustrate your dedication and interest in the field, greatly increasing your chances of getting into your desired college.
  • Earn credit for entry-level courses – Similar to how AP high school courses can translate into college credits, taking the SAT Chemistry Subject Test can have the same result. There are some select colleges that grant students credit towards entry-level courses for their completion of the Subject Test. It’s a great way to get a head start during your first year.
  • It’s required by some colleges – While some colleges will reward applicants for taking the SAT Chemistry Subject Test, others require it. This is typically used as a way to weed out students who aren’t as willing to put in the work required to succeed academically in the subject matter.

When should I think about taking the SAT Chemistry Subject Test?

Before we can take a look at the specifics of the Chemistry Subject Test and how it differs from other similar exams, it’s important to understand when you should really consider taking it over the other 19 potential Subject Test options. Here are a few salient examples of when AdmissionSight would advise a student to take this particular test:

1. You just completed a chemistry course.

While biology is generally considered one of the easiest science-related Subject Tests, the chemistry exam is viewed as being slightly harder – especially for students who aren’t familiar with the material or who took a course a few years ago. If you recently completed a chemistry course in high school, it’s a perfect time to take the SAT Chemistry Subject Test.

A girl studying in a room

All of the studying, homework, and practicing you’ve already done for school can simply be transferred to the test. You avoid having to do much extra preparation since all of the concepts are still relatively fresh for you. The laboratory experience and familiarity with the metric system you gain from this course can also be tremendously helpful for passing the Chemistry Subject Test. If you’re smart enough to have already taken an AP Chemistry course, you’ll be pleased to know that these are considered harder than the Subject Tests themselves. You’d arguably already be prepared.

2. You want to major in chemistry.

Another time when you should strongly consider taking the SAT Chemistry Subject Test is when you’re certain about obtaining a major in the field. Whether you want to move on to receive a Ph.D. or just want to teach high school chemistry after graduation, completing this Subject Test is a great way to show admission officers how dedicated you are to pursuing the subject. In reality, even if you aren’t sure if you want to pursue a career in chemistry but still know that’s what you want to major in, then it’s still a good idea to take the test.

unknown individuals performing chemistry experiments

You’ll be displaying your aptitude for the subject matter while demonstrating a willingness to go above and beyond what most other students do. It’s the perfect way to perfect an application that already contains courses, extracurriculars, and programs in which you’ve participated to further your academic success in the field of chemistry. Admission officers will certainly recognize this when considering you for selective schools.

What kind of skills are tested on the SAT Chemistry Subject Test?

The SAT Chemistry Subject Test can be broken down into three separate parts, each testing a separate skillset. The largest chunk of the test, around 45%, revolves around the direct application of knowledge. The next largest portion of the exam will test your ability to synthesize that knowledge.  For the remaining 20%, you’ll be quizzed on your ability to recall fundamental concepts and general knowledge of the subject matter. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of some of the problems with which you’ll be confronted on the SAT Chemistry Subject Test:

  • You should have a good understanding of chemistry’s major concepts and the capability to apply these principles to answer specific questions
  • You’ll need to be able to interpret and organize results from experimentation and observation, make inferences or draw conclusions from experiment data such as graphs, tabs, or charts
  • You should be familiar with laboratory processes, the experimental method, and the metric system
  • You’ll need to know your way around simple algebraic concepts in order to apply them to certain problems
  • You should be familiar with the concepts of direct and inverse proportions, ratio, scientific notations, and exponents

 What does the SAT Chemistry Subject Test Contain?


Percentage of Test

Structure of matter

  • Bonding, including dispersion forces, dipole-dipole forces, intermolecular forces (hydrogen bonding), relationships of bonding to structures and properties, metallic, covalent, and ionic bonds
  • Atomic Structure, including periodic trends, electronic configurations, quantum energy levels and numbers, evidence of atomic structure Molecular Structure, including polarity, 3-D molecular shapes, Lewis structures
States of matter

  • Gases, including stoichiometry, density, molar volumes, gas law relationships, and kinetic molecular theory
  • Liquids and Solids, including phase diagrams, phase changes, types of solids, intermolecular forces in solids and liquids
  • Solutions, including qualitative aspects of colligative properties, factors contributing to the solubility of gases, liquids, and solids, stoichiometry and solution preparation, molarity, and percent by mass concentrations
Reaction types

  • Acids and Bases, including indicators, titrations, pH, weak and strong bases and acids, Brønsted-Lowry theory
  • Oxidation-Reduction, including use of activity series, oxidation numbers, combustion, oxidation-reduction reactions
  • Precipitation, including rules of basic solubility

  • Mole Concept, including molecular formulas, empirical formulas, Avogadro’s number, molar mass
  • Chemical Equations, including limiting reactants, percent yield, stoichiometric calculations, balancing of equations
Equilibrium and reaction rates

  • Equilibrium Systems, including equilibrium expressions, equilibrium constants, (LeChâtelier’s principle in aqueous and gaseous systems
  • Rates of Reactions, including activation energies, potential energy diagrams, reaction rate factors

  • Entropy, cooling and heating curves, enthalpy changes in relation to chemical reactions and phase changes, specific heats, calorimetry, conservation of heat
Descriptive chemistry

  • Compounds of environmental concern, simple organic compounds, predicting products of chemical reactions, the reactivity of elements, periodic trends in physical and chemical products of chemical reactions, the nomenclature of compounds and ions, common elements

  • Drawing deductions from laboratory data analysis, calculations, safety, observations, procedures, measurements, graphical data

What resources can I use to prepare for the SAT Chemistry Subject Test?

Free online resources

There are several free resources available online to help students prepare for the Chemistry Subject Test. We’ve provided a few here. Although this list isn’t exhaustive, these are some of the best free resources we’ve been able to identify.

Sample chemistry questions online

These sample test questions can give you a good idea of what kind of information you’ll be asked to recall on the real test. Don’t forget that these are unofficial questions, however. They still can be used as a practical resource.

In-depth video lessons through the Khan Academy

The Khan Academy has a host of helpful videos aimed at helping students handle the SAT Subject Tests. You’ll be met with test-taking tips, sample questions, detailed answers, and much more. When you’re not in the mood for sitting down taking a sample test, these videos are still a great way to get some studying done in a more entertaining way.

a group of four students with two male and two female studying together

Student Guide for the SAT Subject Tests

Here’s an entire student guide for all 20 SAT Subject Tests. Of course, you’ll find information about the Chemistry Subject Test too. There are tips for taking the test successfully along with some realistic sample questions. This is an excellent source to test your ability to answer these types of questions timely. When you’re finished taking the practice questions, you can compare your answers with the answer explanations for the Chemistry test.

Official study guides

While you might have to pay a little extra, official study guides are going to be your best friend when practicing for the SAT Chemistry Subject Test. Since they come from official sources, you can rest assured that the questions being asked are reflective of what you’ll see on the actual test. Here is a few AdmissionSight can recommend:

Official SAT Subject Test Study Guide in Chemistry

You’ll have two complete subject tests with accurate questions and detailed explanations. It’s always helpful to time yourself when taking these exams to see how you’ll fare with only an hour allotted for the official test.

Official Study Guide for All SAT Subject Tests: Second Edition

As the only official study guide that covers each of the 20 SAT Subject Tests, this is a must-have for any student considering taking more than one Subject Test.

What else should I know about the SAT Chemistry Subject Test?

1.Questions on Relationship Analysis

Although some sample tests may omit these styles of questions, there are questions regarding relationship analysis on the real SAT Chemistry Subject Test. These have to be answered in a special section toward the lower, left-hand corner of the answer sheet labeled “chemistry”. Note that these questions will start with the number 101. In this section, “CE” means “correct explanation” and regards the related analysis.

2. Periodic Table

Much to the relief of all students, a periodic table is provided to everyone taking the SAT Chemistry Subject Test. You’ll have information about the masses and atomic numbers of each element, making memorization unnecessary in this area. However, you shouldn’t let this breed a sense of overconfidence since there could still be questions you’re not entirely familiar with. You see, different high schools will teach different chemistry classes. Since the SAT Subject Tests try to incorporate questions relating to multiple different curriculums, you might come across a few questions you don’t recognize from class. Fortunately, you can still get a perfect 800 without getting every question correct. Most students have no trouble receiving excellent scores despite not being familiar with each question.

3. Metric System

Another important thing to keep in mind about the SAT Chemistry Subject Test is that all of the measurements are in units of the metric system. You’ve probably gotten used to using the metric system during your chemistry classes, but it’s something to keep in mind before heading into the exam.

AdmissionSight can help you prepare

AdmissionSight has established a reputation as one of the most successful and sought-after providers of college admission assistance in the country. We’ve worked with hundreds of students both domestic and abroad to help achieve their academic goals. Our admission specialists have even helped students get into some of the most esteemed Ivy League Universities. Whether you need help preparing your application, want guidance when choosing a suitable summer program, want assistance when preparing for the SAT Subject Test, or need any other form of academic guidance, AdmissionSight has the expertise and resources to help. If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us for a free consultation.



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