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SAT II Test Prep

The SAT Subject tests are multiple-choice exams which each focus on a specific subject within the areas of English, math, history, foreign languages, and science.

Overview of the Literature SAT II Test

For people who love to read, and excel in their high school English classes, the Literature SAT II, which measures your ability to read and interpret literature, is often a great choice. Interestingly, the Literature SAT II test is the one subject test that does not specifically test material taught through the high school curriculum. It doesn’t require you to know information about specific facts, books, or authors. Instead, it tests your ability to process the information provided. Though this test would be valuable for English majors to consider, reading and interpreting material is a requirement of virtually every profession. Therefore, a wide selection of students may benefit from taking this test, especially those who are still investigating a number of academic majors.

Format & Scoring

The Literature SAT II test is a one-hour exam that features about 60 multiple-choice questions, each with five answer choices. The College Board awards one point for every correct answer, deducts one-quarter point for every incorrect answer, and neither awards or deducts points for unanswered questions. Like all SAT II Subject Tests, the scores on the Literature Test range from 200 to 800, with 800 being the highest possible score.

The test includes six to eight reading selections followed by sets of 4 to 12 questions that may cover overall meaning, form and structure, use of language, narrative voice, and characterization.

Content

Source of Questions:

  • English literature 40-50%
  • American literature 40-50%
  • Other literature written in English 0-10%

Chronology:

  • Renaissance and 17th century 30%
  • 18th and 19th centuries 30%
  • 20th century 40%

Genre:

  • Poetry 40-50%
  • Prose 40-50%
  • Drama and other 0-10%

Percentiles and Scoring Strategy

  • 800: 99th
  • 750: 94th
  • 700: 82nd
  • 650: 68th
  • 600: 53rd
  • 550: 38th
  • 500: 25th

As you can see from the percentiles, the Literature SAT II Subject Test isn’t an easy test. Although this exam doesn’t test specific content (and perhaps because of that) this test is not a breeze. It challenges students to dissect and interpret complex passages (including poems—something many students have less experience with), and to be comfortable with literary terminology and concepts. That isn’t to say that you should avoid this test—the material and skills on the test are certainly learnable, and those skills will come in handy in college and in almost every career. The Literature SAT II is a great counterpoint to a Math or Science SAT II, and honing these skills now will put you ahead of the game in college. However, this isn’t a test you can just sit down and take—preparation and practice are crucial to scoring well.

CATES Approach

As with all our test prep programs, we begin with a diagnostic test to assess the immediate and long-term content and strategy needs. For the Lit SAT II, this gives us information about which types of passages a student tends to score higher on (for example, many students have an easier time with straightforward prose passages than they do with passages from poems or plays). From there, we devise a customized study plan to address any weaknesses—complete with specifically chosen test prep materials geared towards the individual student’s needs—and teach students the content and strategies to maximize their score.

We show the students the ins and outs of the exam, how to handle specific question types, and how to manage time throughout the subsections of the test. For some students, that may mean becoming comfortable with anything the test might throw at them. For other students, who may be struggling with timing and a particular passage type, they may find that they can skip one of the reading selections and still reach their target score. In our experience, knowing the target score, and gearing the test towards the student’s strengths, is the best overall scoring strategy for the Literature SAT II.

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