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SAT II Physics

SAT II Physics

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Published by: vmsgr on May 27, 2009
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Introduction to the SAT II
THE SAT II SUBJECT TESTS ARE CREATED and administered by the College Board and the EducationalTesting Service (ETS), the two organizations responsible for the dreaded SAT I (which most people call theSAT). The SAT II Subject Tests were created to act as complements to the SAT I. Whereas the SAT I tests yourcritical thinking skills by asking math and verbal questions, the SAT II Subject Tests examine your knowledgeof a particular subject, such as Physics, Writing, U.S. History, or Biology. The SAT I takes three hours; theSubject Tests take only one hour each.In our opinion, the SAT II Subject Tests are better tests than the SAT I because they cover a definitive topicrather than ambiguous critical thinking skills. However, just because the SAT II Subject Tests do a better jobof testing your knowledge of a useful subject doesn’t mean they are necessarily easier or demand lessstudying. A “better” test isn’t necessarily better for you in terms of how easy it will be.
The Good
Because SAT II Subject Tests cover specific topics like Physics and Biology, you can study for themeffectively. If you don’t know a topic in physics, such as how to deal with an inclined plane problem, youcan look it up and learn it. The SAT IIs are straightforward tests: if you know your stuff, you will do wellon them.Often, the classes you’ve taken in school have already prepared you well for the SAT IIs. If you took acourse in physics and did well, you probably covered most of the topics that are tested on the SAT IIPhysics Test. All you need is some refreshing.
The Bad
Because SAT II Subject Tests quiz you on specific knowledge, it is much harder to “beat” or “outsmart”an SAT II test than it is to outsmart the SAT I. For the SAT I, you can use all sorts of tricks and strategiesto figure out an answer. There are far fewer strategies to help you on the SAT II. Don’t get us wrong:having test-taking skills
 will
help you on an SAT II test, but knowing the subject will help you much,much more. In other words, to do well on the SAT II, you can’t just rely on your quick thinking andintelligence. You need to study.
 
Colleges and the SAT II Subject Tests
 We’re guessing you didn’t sign up to take the SAT II just for the sheer pleasure of it. You probably want to getinto college and know that the one and only reason to take this test is that colleges want or require you to doso.Colleges care about SAT II Subject Tests for two reasons. First, the tests demonstrates your interest,knowledge, and skill in specific subjects. Second, because SAT II tests are standardized, they show how yourknowledge of physics (or biology or writing or U.S. history) measures up to that of high school studentsnationwide. The grades you get in high school don’t offer such a measurement to colleges: some high schoolsare more difficult than others, and students of equal ability might receive different grades, even in classes withrelatively similar curricula. When it comes down to it, colleges like the SAT IIs because they make the college’s job easier. The SAT IIsallow colleges to easily compare you to other applicants and provide you with a chance to shine. If you get a 93in a physics class, and a student at another high school across the country gets a 91, colleges won’t necessarily know how to compare the two grades. They don’t know whose class was harder or whose teacher was atougher grader. But if you get a 720 on the SAT II Physics and that other kid gets a 670, colleges
 will
recognizethe difference in your scores.
College Placement
Occasionally, colleges use SAT II tests to determine placement. For example, if you do very well on the SAT II Writing, you might be exempted from a basic expository writing class. It’s worth finding out whether thecolleges you’re applying to use the SAT II tests for this purpose.
 
Scoring the SAT II Subject Tests
There are three different versions of your SAT II score. The “raw score” is a simple score of how you did on thetest, like the grade you might receive on a normal test in school. The “percentile score” compares your raw score to all the other raw scores in the country, letting you know how you did on the test in relation to yourpeers. The “scaled score,” which ranges from 200–800, compares your score to the scores received by allstudents who have ever taken that particular SAT II.
The Raw Score
 You will never know your SAT II raw score because it is not included in the score report. But you shouldunderstand how the raw score is calculated, because this knowledge can affect your strategy for approachingthe test. Your raw score on the SAT II Physics Test is based on a few simple rules: You earn 1 point for each correct answer. You lose
1
/
4
of a point for each incorrect answer. You receive zero points for each question left blank.Calculating the raw score is easy. Count the number of questions you answered correctly and the number of questions you answered incorrectly. Then multiply the number of wrong answers by 
1
/
4
, and subtract this value from the number of right answers:
raw score# of correct answers
1
4
# of wrong answers
Suppose, for example, that of the 75 questions on the test, you answered 52 questions correctly, 18 questionsincorrectly, and left five blank. Your raw score would be calculated as follows:The raw score is rounded to the nearest whole number. In this case, your raw score would be 48.
The Percentile Score
 Your percentile is based on the percentage of the total test takers who received a lower raw score than you did.Let’s say, for example, your friend Methuselah took the SAT II Physics Test and got a score that placed him inthe 37th percentile. That means he scored better on that test than did 36% of the other students who took thesame test. It also means that 63% of the students taking that test scored as well as or better than he did.
The Scaled Score
ETS takes your raw score and uses a formula to turn it into the scaled score of 200–800 that you’ve probably heard so much about.The curve to convert raw scores to scaled scores varies from test to test. For example, a raw score of 33 on theMath IC might scale to a 600, while the same raw score on the Math IIC might scale to a 700. In fact, thescaled score can even vary between different editions of the
same
test. A raw score of 33 on the February 2004

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