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SAT Subject Test in Literature

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Title: SAT Subject Test in Literature  
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SAT Subject Test in Literature

The SAT Subject Test in Literature is the name of a one-hour multiple choice test given on English literature by The College Board. A student chooses whether to take the test depending upon college entrance requirements for the schools in which the student is planning to apply. Until 1994, the SAT Subject Tests were known as Achievement Tests; and from 1995 until January 2005, they were known as SAT IIs. Of all SAT subject tests, Literature is taken the third most, with 119,180 administrations in 2008.[1]


This test has an average of 60 multiple choice questions about six to eight passages to be answered in one hour. Of the passages, about half are prose and half are poems.[2] Up to twenty percent can be drama excerpts. 30% are passages written before 1700, 30% are written between 1701 and 1900, and 40% are written after 1900.[2] Half of the passages were written by British authors and half by American authors, although the College Board stipulates that up to 20% may be written by authors from other English-speaking countries. While the author is usually not given, the date of first publication usually accompanies each passage.


The College Board gives a list of concepts covered in this exam:[2]

  • meaning and theme
  • argument
  • word connotation
  • form, structure, and organization
  • genre
  • figurative language, specifically imagery
  • narrative voice
  • characterization

Furthermore, the College Board recommends familiarity with specialized analytical terms, including irony, stanza, imagery and tone.[2] They also recommend regularly reading British and American literature, though no book list is given.


Theoretically, the lowest score on this exam is a 200, with the highest being 800. However, in 2008, the lowest score was a 260. The mean score was 580, with a standard deviation of 112. Less than 1% of those who took the exam received a perfect score (800).[1] Students are permitted to take this exam more than once to try to improve their scores.


  1. ^ a b "SAT Subject Test Percentile Ranks" ( 
  2. ^ a b c d [1], The official College Board website for the Subject Test in Literature.

See also

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