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MarkT

Physics SAT Subject Test

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Background:

The son of a good friend of mine will be applying to competitive colleges such as Georgia Tech, Rice, Vanderbilt, etc.

He needs to submit a science subject and the Math Level 2 tests. He already took Biology and Math 2. He scored a 700 in Bio. He wants to take the Physics SAT Subject Test in June or August 2018. He is trying to score around 750 in Physics. He will probably also retake Math 2 as well. He took an algebra based Physics course his Sophomore year and now as a Junior he is currently taking AP Physics C Mechanics. He feels he is rusty on the material not covered in his AP course. I am his "college coach" - it is so much easier to mentor your friends kids versus your own!

 

Question:

What are the best Physics SAT Subject Test review books that are in-depth enough to "relearn" some of the material?  Are there any Physics PDF notes out there that could also be used?  What are the best review books for exam prep with practice tests so he could see the areas he needs to focus on?

 

thanks

Mark

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My kids used Barron's and the free Sparknotes online SAT physics prep. Make sure the student knows an equation sheet is not provided and a calculator is not permitted.

 

Good luck to your son's friend!

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My ds took the physics subject test after having taken both AP physics C exams. There was a good bit of material on the subject test that was not on the AP so he did extra prep specifically for the subject test. He used the Princeton Review prep book, and probably had help from his dad too. Also, make sure your son's friend knows that the curve is quite forgiving. You do not have to get every problem right in order to score well.

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My daughter took it after both of the Physics C courses.

 

Between the AP test in May and the SAT Subject test in June, she learned the extra material from an old Giancoli text. (The Physics Subject test aligns well with the old AP Physics B course, and Giancoli was often used for that)

 

She did the chapters on waves, sound, light & optics, heat & thermo, and modern physics including nuclear and relativity. She worked through the Barrons and REA guides, too.

 

She also took whatever released exams we had in the CB official SAT Subject test books, just to check her score range before the real thing.

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If he is homeschooling, I’ll aim for the June date because of exam momentum from AP exams.

 

For Math 2,

Barrons book (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1438007914) has diagnostics for each test which splits them up into topics so it was easy to see which topic the student is weaker in. The CollegeBoard book newer edition (https://store.collegeboard.org/sto/productdetail.do?Itemkey=109328) has 4 Math 2 subject tests which was useful to see which questions trip students up and also how the test questions are worded.

 

Older kid did all the 7 test in the Barron’s book and 2 tests from the CollegeBoard book, and ended up with 800, 80th percentile, June 2017. We spent two weeks after AP exams on prep.

Younger kid did only the diagnostic test in the Barron’s book and 2 tests from the CollegeBoard book and ended up with 750, 60th percentile, Aug 2017. He rather play then do test prep obviously and did the Math 2 subject test before Precalculus.

 

For Physics,

Older kid used Barron’s (https://www.amazon.com/Barrons-SAT-Subject-Test-Physics/dp/1438007892/) and CollegeBoard (https://store.collegeboard.org/sto/productdetail.do?Itemkey=109212) books to prep and took the exam with Math 2. He took 2 subject tests in one morning, Physics then Math 2. The Barron’s book has 4 tests and the CollegeBoard book has two. The Barron’s book does classify test questions by major topics so it’s possible to see which areas students are weaker in. A score of 800 in June 2017 puts my kid at the 88th percentile. He used the practice tests to review so he didn’t use the review chapters of Barron’s. He took clover creek physics in 6th grade, didn’t do physics in 7th but took the subject test, then do AP Physics C in 8th grade.

My younger kid is taking the Physics subject test this June. He’ll start prepping in May after older boy is done with his AP exams.

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Arcadia - How much of a stretch do you think the SAT would be after Clover Creek?  I'd like my ds to take an SAT science test but he probably won't be taking AP Physics until senior year. I know APs would be better prep but I understand the SAT is supposed to be high school level physics.

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Arcadia - How much of a stretch do you think the SAT would be after Clover Creek?

SAT Physics test is highly conceptual. Is he currently taking Clover Creek and what is his foundation in physics like.

 

The best gauge is actually to take either the diagnostic test from the Barron’s book or the first test from the CollegeBoard book. Then see which sections/topics are weaker. Princeton Review doesn’t have a topic breakdown for test questions so you would need to match questions to topics yourself.

 

If I don’t remember wrong, Clover Creek doesn’t cover Thermodynamics but it is easy to self study that section from the Hewitt Conceptual Physics textbook or the relevant chapters in the Barron’s test prep book. Your son might have also learned Thermodynamics in his chemistry course.

 

“Content

Heat and thermodynamics

Thermal properties, such as temperature, heat transfer, specific and latent heats, and thermal expansions

Laws of thermodynamics, such as first and second laws, internal energy, entropy, and heat engine efficiency

Approximate % of Test 6%–11%†https://collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat-subject-tests/subjects/science/physics

 

Of the SAT science subject tests, physics has the highest proportion scoring 800 and Ecological Biology the least. However subject test takers are self selective so it’s really hard to tell. The SAT subject test score profile is in this link https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/sat/pdf/sat-subject-tests-percentile-ranks.pdf

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thank you for all the excellent suggestions - I was not very familiar with SAT subject tests since my DS only applied to schools where they were optional.

Looks like you need a score of 800 or pretty close.  I will recommend the August test date since it is very different from the AP C exams. 

 

I added a section in the pinned HS Physics thread linking back to this thread:

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/540313-homeschool-high-school-physics/?do=findComment&comment=6153697

 

Mark

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We tried Barron's for Math 2 and quit in frustration, at the last minute. This book is much harder than the real test! I truly don't understand why it's the main one everyone suggests.

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