Test Preparation

Prior to taking an SAT, an ACT, or a Subject Test, the College Advising Office strongly recommends that students spend time preparing.  Students should find the option that works best for their learning style, schedule, and budget. Some students are motivated to prepare on their own, while others may believe that they will not do the necessary preparation unless they have the external motivation that comes from a formal course and instructor. Although there is considerable debate about the benefits of test prep, we have seen enough students raise their scores significantly that we have come to believe that some preparation is valuable.

At the very least, familiarity with the organization and types of questions on any standardized test will be helpful, as it will allow you to focus on the content of the questions without having to spend extra time during the exam to figure out the directions. Some basic and common-sense strategies are useful in preventing extra stress and wasted time during those important hours.  Therefore, at minimum, you should familiarize yourself with the format of the exams by using the booklets with sample questions provided by the College Board and/or the ACT. Preferably you should take a full-length practice test and score it. Look over the questions you answered incorrectly or didn’t answer. Are there specific areas where you are weak and can improve on? Did you budget your time well?

We recommend that students try a practice test of the SAT and the ACT to determine which test they prefer or the test on which they perform better. Once you choose your test, it’s best to focus your energy on preparing for that one test; no college will require or expect both. Once students have determined which test is the best fit for them, we encourage students to find a program or resource that will allow for reasonable, consistent practice and prep.   There are many types of test preparation available.  These include books that students use to prepare on their own, online resources, tutors, and commercial courses. See the Links and Resources page for more information about test prep resources available to Deerfield students.  

Subject Tests: Subject Tests are required or recommended by a small number of selective colleges. Many Deerfield students choose to take a few Subject Tests to demonstrate their command of certain disciplines, even if the test is not required by a certain college. (As always, it’s best to refer to colleges’ websites for their requirements.) The best preparation for the SAT Subject Tests is successful completion of the relevant course.  Of course, students should also familiarize themselves with the test format using a test prep book from the library, amazon, or the bookstore to do their best work.  Below are the recommended Deerfield courses to complete before taking the Subject Tests.  Students should consult with their teachers if they have questions about the extent to which a particular course prepares them for an exam.


In order to take: You should be finishing:
Literature grade 11 English, with excellent reading skills
US History Honors US History
Mathematics Level I Algebra II
Mathematics Level II Pre-Calculus or higher
Biology E/M Biology Accelerated
Chemistry Chemistry Accelerated
Physics AP Physics 2 or AP Physics C
French* French III Honors or French IV
Latin Latin IV
Spanish* Spanish III Honors or Spanish IV
Chinese** Chinese IV

*Test with Listening is offered only in November. You may take the test with or without the listening section, but many Deerfield students do well on the listening test because our immersion classrooms prepare them well.

**The Chinese subject test is only offered in November and includes listening.