While you might know a few benefits of taking the SAT Spanish subject test, you are probably wondering how to ace it. Getting a score close to 800 is very doable, yet requires a lot of dedicated study, patience, and consistency. The SAT Spanish test consists of various multiple-choice questions based on short passages as well as questions related to grammar and word tenses. Yet these skillsets are not the only ones that will need to be reinforced to be test-ready, time management and reading speed will also have to be a priority. Additionally, if taking the SAT Spanish Subject Test with listening you will also have to reinforce your listening comprehension.

With a great study schedule, consistent SAT Spanish revision, and patience the nerves of taking this exam will be gone. Keep on reading for the best tips and tricks to prepare for the SAT Spanish subject exam. 

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Time Management

Just like any other standardized exam the SAT Spanish subject test is timed. Both the SAT Spanish test and Spanish test with listening have a total of 85 multiple-choice questions.

The SAT Spanish without listening is equally divided into three sections with about 28 questions per section. These categories are broken down into vocabulary and structure, paragraph completion, and reading comprehension. The SAT Spanish with listening is comprised of 40% audio listening and 60% reading comprehension. The audio listening portion is made up of three main categories: a) describing images, b) continuing a short conversation, and c) answering comprehension questions related to an audio passage. 

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Time is of the essence for the SAT Spanish Subject Test with 85 questions and a total of 60 minutes. (Photo by Moritz Kindler on Unsplash)

Both exams have a total time of 60 minutes for completion. The Spanish with listening exam though is divided into two parts with 20 minutes of audio listening and 40 minutes for multiple-choice questions. So, that roughly gives test-takers less than a minute per question. This means that time management is a very important skill to have when taking either of these exams. The best time management tips include:

  • Knowing the Exam Structure: Having a time management strategy revolves around knowing how many questions are in each section of the exam. This means that for each section of the exam you should adjust your strategy. Roughly make a mental note that you should only take about 30 seconds to answer each question.
  • Method of Elimination: Guessing isn’t always the best method of answering questions you might have no clue what the correct answers are. Both SAT Spanish subject tests take off a third of a point for every wrong answer. So, narrowing down your choices is a better way to guess with less risk. Yet, if you still have no clue, skip the question. 
  • Skip Questions: Don’t be afraid to skip questions if you are not sure which is the best answer. You do not have to answer every question in order. Answer the questions that you feel confident answering first, and then look back at the other questions you were unsure of after. 
  • Be Familiar with the Exam: Being familiar with the exam verbiage, structure and instructions will give you a leg up on time. You won’t have to take extra time to familiarize yourself with the exam’s instructions or format. Taking enough SAT Spanish practice tests will get you familiarized and ready for test day while saving precious minutes as you go. 
  • Bring a Watch: The test center should have a clock, and the test proctor will update the time that is left on a whiteboard. Yet, it is always better to come extra prepared by bringing a none beeping watch of your own. This will allow you to manage your time better without having to look up at the testing center’s clock or the updated whiteboard constantly.
  • Learn to Speed Read: For reading comprehension try to speed read by reading the first few sentences and the last few sentences first. This will allow you to quickly start answering the exam's questions and only go back to reading the entire passage if needed. Taking notes is also beneficial while skimming through the passages and can save you time once it’s time to answer questions. 

These time management tips are only a few of the many more tricks out there. But remember that time management skills also take time to strengthen. Most of these tips are not easy to do, as they require patience and time to master each study format and pattern. So, make an effort to always take practice tests as if they were the real exam. 

Strengthening Your Verbal and Listening Skillset

If you are thinking about taking the SAT Spanish with Listening, then you also need to get comfortable listening to the pronunciation of basic and formal Spanish words and phrases. A great way to get familiar with the pronunciation is by listening to Spanish music, podcasts, Spanish-translated TV shows, movies, and or other Spanish language media. 

Another great way to strengthen both your pronunciation and listening skillsets is by using online dictionaries. Online Spanish dictionary tools are great resources because most of them have an audio feature, which allows you to listen to the proper pronunciation of a word.

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Spanish dictionaries are great resources to strengthen your Spanish vocabulary. (Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash)

A great online Spanish dictionary tool is Word Reference. The Word Reference tool in addition to great definitions and sentence examples also has a great audio component where you can hear the pronunciation of a word in a few accents including Mexican, Spanish, and Argentinian. The online tool also includes principal translations from Spanish to English and a few references into compound and conjugation forms.

If you’re taking the SAT Spanish with the listening test, you must bring a CD player on test day. Make sure to look over the CD player rules as well as what CD players are accepted.

There are a few Spanish with listening practice tests online and on the official College Board website, which is a great way to strengthen your listening skills. A bonus for taking audio practice tests before the exam is that you will get to know the exam format better and know exactly what to expect.    

Reading Comprehension

The reading comprehension portion of the exam consists of 13 questions across three different passages and mock advertisements. In addition to the reading comprehension questions, the exam will also include 15 questions testing you on your paragraph completion knowledge and 5 questions on vocabulary and structure. 

The main focus in these three sections has to do with Spanish reading and listening comprehension knowledge. Yet, to have up-to-par comprehension one needs to also excel in Spanish language vocabulary. Vocabulary tenses and their various conjugations are key to mastering the SAT Spanish exam. 

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Reading Spanish books and media will only strengthen your reading comprehension. (Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos on Unsplash)

In addition to language comprehension and common Spanish vocabulary, the SAT language subject tests love to test students on their knowledge of irregular verbs particularly ones that are commonly used. Spanish action verbs can be tricky due to their multiple tenses and conjugations. So, memorizing the most common Spanish irregular verbs can give you an extra boost of confidence.

If you do well on every practice test including those offered through The College Board website, then congratulations! You are set to acing the SAT Spanish Subject Test. You can brush up a bit on your conjugations and memorizing irregular verbs, but you are set to do great come test day. 

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Denise

A California desert-native who has a passion for baking from scratch, reading 1950-era novels, listening to soul/jazz, and global trotting.