With the AP out of the way, I now turn my attention to the SAT Subject Test in Chemistry 2016.

Logistics

  • Dates: May 7th & June 4th 2016
  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Format: 85 Multiple-Choice Questions (A-E)
  • Resources: No Calculator, but a periodic table is provided
  • The percentage of the questions associated with each topic area is as follows;

Structure of matter 25%, States of matter 16%, Reaction types 14%, Stoichiometry 14%, Equilibrium and reaction rates 5%, Thermodynamics 6%, Descriptive chemistry 12%, Laboratory 8%.

Go here for pretty much all that you need to know about the test, plus some sample questions and answers.

SAT Crash Course

Content and Preparation

Most high school chemistry classes, whatever their title (including AP), generally do not offer specific SAT subject test preparation. The content covered in a good AP course will have a lot of crossover with the SAT in chemistry, but if the AP course has been taught correctly then you will not have been specifically prepared for any test other than the AP exam.

The material covered in the AP course certainly should omit certain areas that the SAT examines, and a good AP course will teach you chemistry that is not examined by the SAT. In addition, the style of the SAT exam, its format and strategies for approaching it, differ markedly from the AP. The AP course should be designed to prepare students for the AP exam and NOT for any other standardized test.

With the advent of the new AP exam in 2013, and the topics that were removed from the AP curriculum then, there are likely to be a few areas that you should study for the SAT that you did not have to know for the AP, i.e.,

  • Phase diagrams
  • Quantum numbers for electrons
  • Lewis acids & bases
  • Molality & colligative properties
  • A full set of solubility rules
  • Organic nomenclature basics (including functional groups) & Isomerism
  • Radioactivity basics

Since there is rarely (if ever) any formal SAT preparation in lower high school course that might be labelled ‘College Prep’ or ‘Honors’ or a multitude of other names, once again some specific SAT subject test preparation is likely to be required.

Scoring

SAT scores are calculated by recording the number of correct answers, and then subtracting ¼ of the number of wrong answers. There is no penalty for a blank. This method gives a ‘raw score’ which is then converted to a score between 200 and 800. You can the following table as a guide only; it is most definitely not definitive.

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Types of question

The majority of the multiple-choice questions are similar to the ones that you will have encountered in any high school chemistry course not matter what the level. However, there is one type of multiple-choice question called Relationship Analysis that is likely to be significantly different. You can see examples of these on the Relationship Analysis tab, here (there are also examples questions of the type that you are more familiar with on the other tabs).

I have found that the most effective strategy in Relationship Analysis is to decide if each statement is true or false INDEPENDENTLY of one another. That means that you only have to consider the “Correct Explanation” (CE) part of the question IF BOTH statements are true. One way to help the two statements to stay independent is to consider ONLY the first statement in each pair first, and then go back and consider ONLY the second statement of each statement second.

Here are a few more tips on how to score well on the SAT subject test in chemistry that I wrote in 2014. I also strongly suggest purchasing a SAT Chemistry Subject Test preparation book.