Applying to distinguished colleges and universities means that the prospective student pool is highly selective. Many of these schools now ask not just for an ACT or SAT score, but also for subject tests where students can demonstrate their knowledge and skillset further. For some students choosing a mathematics subject test or an exam in the sciences is best for their overall resume. But, for many, a foreign language subject test is also a great route to show a diverse skillset.

Thinking of taking the SAT Spanish Subject Exam? Well, the first thing to do is to assess the proposed requirements from The College Board, the organization that develops and offers the SAT and SAT Subject Tests. The College Board states that there are a few factors to measure if you will be successful on the exam. The first factor is that you should at least have two years of strong Spanish language preparation, and the more the better. Secondly, The College Board recommends taking the Foreign Language Subject Test as close to the end of the most advanced Spanish course that you are taking or plan to take.

SAT Spanish prep
Assessing the SAT Spanish exam format and your Spanish skillset are the first steps to determine the exam's difficulty. (Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash)

The second thing to assess is the SAT Spanish exam format. Getting an overview and snapshot of what the exam will entail is a great step to see if you are at a good range of knowledge for the exam. But do not let the scope of the Spanish subject exam haunt you. Sometimes we know more than what we give ourselves credit for. A little bit of SAT Spanish revision will get you test-ready in no time and closer to acing the exam.

Now, let us review the exam format, which will help you decide if the SAT Spanish test is the right exam for you.

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SAT Spanish Exam Overview

The SAT Spanish Subject Test is a great way to highlight your language skills. Furthermore, it’s a great way to demonstrate not only your Spanish language interest but your appreciation for Latin-based languages in your college applications. To know if your Spanish language knowledge is up for the challenge, we will go over when the exam is offered, what the exam will cover, and how the exam is structured.

There are two different option styles when taking the SAT Spanish Subject Test. The first type of exam is the regular SAT Spanish Subject that is similar to any other standardized test. This exam is comprised of 85 multiple choice questions with 60 minutes in the allotted time. The exam score range is out of 800 possible points and 200 points minimum. The regular exam consists of Spanish vocabulary and structure, paragraph completion, and overall reading comprehension. The reading topics and excerpts are all in Spanish as well as the multiple-choice questions and answers. This exam is offered six times a year on any SAT dates in May, June, August, October, November, and December.

The second type of exam offered is the SAT Spanish with Listening Subject Test. This exam style is a bit different than a regular standardized exam because it also involves a listening component. This exam is structured around 85 multiple choice questions, yet 30 of the questions are based on listening to recorded audio in Spanish and the other 55 questions are based on reading excerpts in Spanish. The Spanish with the listening component exam is also timed with a total of 60 minutes but divided between 20 minutes for listening questions and 40 minutes for reading questions.

SAT Spanish with Listening
Many colleges indicate that the SAT Spanish with Listening Subject Test gives them the most insight into a student's Spanish skillset. (Photo by Blaz Erzetic on Unsplash)

Unlike the regular Spanish reading exam, the Spanish with Listening Subject Test is only offered once a year and normally in May. So, a fair deal of planning will have to come from each student to take the listening exam. Although students have felt a bit overwhelmed by the listening component of the Spanish with the listening exam, most students tend to score the highest on this portion. A bonus is that many colleges and universities indicate that the Spanish with Listening exam gives them the most insight into the student’s Spanish skillset and is more useful for placement and assessment.

Now that we have assessed what the exam will cover, let us assess your Spanish language skillset. The following are just a few skillsets needed to be successful on the exam.

Assessing Your Spanish Language Skillset

Now that you know a bit about the exam format and the basic recommended preparation, let’s dive into other anticipated skills needed. The Spanish Subject Test reaches a myriad of language concepts.

Understanding basic contexts and idioms that are culturally appropriate and knowledge of words representing various parts of speech are major parts of both exams. But there are also knowledge-based questions that need a proper Spanish language foundation. The ability to conjugate words from past, present, and future will be of the essence when it comes to questions that are testing your grammar. These questions will consist of selecting the appropriate word or expression to complete grammatically correct sentences.

Reading comprehension is also the backbone of these foreign language exams, and possibly the hardest for some. The ability to read and comprehend Spanish will determine your ability to be successful in the exam. Understanding the main and supporting ideas, theme, style of writing, tone, and location of a given passage will be key. Just like the regular SAT passage excerpts are drawn from a variety of literature including newspaper and magazine articles, Ads, flyers, letters, historical works, and literary fiction.

Since the Spanish language is the official language of over 21 countries across the world, the exam will not test on any geographical or cultural words, sayings, or expressions. The language and diction that are used on the exam will be from written pieces and dialogue spoken by those who speak Spanish every day. The exam is meant to be understood by all who have at least two years of strong Spanish language preparation and practice the language regularly. A great way to assess your Spanish language skillset is by taking an official SAT Spanish practice test.

SAT Spanish prep
Spanish reading comprehension is the backbone of the SAT Spanish Subject Test. (Photo by Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash)

Spanish Fluency is an Advantage

Successful candidates who took the SAT Spanish exam did not necessarily take multiple years in Spanish language classes. Bilingual or multilingual abilities deserve to be recognized, and this exam is a great way to highlight your language skillsets. Due to native speakers taking the SAT foreign language exams, you should be aware that the scoring averages are fairly high. So, consider that when thinking about taking the SAT Spanish Subject Test or any other SAT foreign language exams. But do not worry, both bilingual students and students with a few years of intensive Spanish courses show successful scores.

Yet do not let these aspects daunt you! Getting ready for the exam will only require a great study guide and reviewing Spanish exam material one to two months beforehand. If you feel up to the challenge the rewards are beneficial for college applications and certifying your overall skillsets. Taking the SAT Spanish Subject test also comes with its long list of benefits.

The SAT Spanish subject test can fulfill foreign language requisite courses in certain colleges and universities once accepted. What a great way to start your college career with credits already being awarded and fulfilled. That means that there will be fewer courses that you will have to worry about once you are accepted to the university of your dreams.

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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.