IB vs. SAT

Students take the IB exams in May, and they are assessed externally. They are specifically geared towards the content taught in IB classes at school, and are a measure of how well the students have achieved in those specific subject areas. IB exams have international application, and the results are of interest to colleges, whether to give credit for courses at the undergraduate level (for example, US colleges) or whether to use them as a condition for admission (for example, UK colleges). It is possible to attend US colleges without taking IB exams, but SMIS students wishing to attend colleges elsewhere in the world will certainly need to present an IB profile to their colleges of choice.

The SAT is a ‘Scholastic Aptitude Test’, and is a general admission requirement for entry into US colleges. All students who take the SAT would take the SAT I Test; many students go on to take the SAT II Test (SAT Subject Tests).

The SAT I is a general test of reading, writing and math, and most students take the test in the Junior or Senior year. The test is offered at least five times a year and may be taken more than once. Colleges look at the scores to determine how likely candidates are to succeed in the courses for which they are applying. The content of the tests is drawn from typical high school English and math curricula, and a student completing the English and math curricula at the 10th Grade level should find that he has the knowledge required to attempt the SAT I. However, while much of the knowledge required for the SAT I test is basic, the test is partly designed to determine reasoning skills.

The SAT Subject Tests (SAT II) are tests in specific subject areas: physics, biology, math, and so on. They test not just an ability to reason, but also test knowledge of a given subject. Many US colleges would like students to offer at least one SAT Subject Test. For example, a student applying for engineering in the USA would usually be expected to take the physics and math SAT Subject Tests, as well as the SAT I Test. St Mary’s does not teach to the SAT tests, and students may be tested on material not covered in our curricula. Therefore, whether taking the SAT I Test or the SAT II (Subject Tests), students need to take responsibility for acquiring the necessary practice materials and learning some concepts outside of school.