Subject Tests: How To Place In Higher Classes

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    So you’re a native French speaker and want to be placed into a higher-level French class. You took a math course over the summer and you want a more advanced curriculum. If you’re ready to progress in a subject, looking at being placed into more advanced courses might be for you.  

    Benefits of Placing Up a Class

    • You want to show colleges that you’re challenging yourself with your coursework. Taking more advanced classes than your peers is a strategy to make yourself stand out.  
      • Colleges would rather you get a B in an AP class than an A in a standard class. 
    • A class that’s too easy invites boredom. Make sure the course load strikes the balance between ease and difficulty for an optimally stimulating class. 

    Is Placing Up Right for Me?

    • However, skipping a level of a class shouldn’t be taken lightly. For example, if you took precalculus over the summer and went straight into calculus, you might find yourself lacking in foundational skills for calculus. 
      • Prerequisites are there for a reason. 
    • This might put you at a disadvantage, as the other students have taken the full prerequisite. 
    • If you take AP French 6 and get Cs, when you could take AP French 5 and get As and Bs, for example, placing up might not be for you. It’s important to keep your GPA high.  
      • Again, strike the balance between ease and difficulty.  

    How To Take A Subject Placement Test

    • Track down your teacher whose class you’re planning to switch into. Discuss your options with them.
    • They can give you an idea about course load, topics, and degree of difficulty.  
      • Be consistent. Send them an email, arrange to meet with them in person, and make sure you make a good impression.  
    • Also, make an appointment with your guidance counselor. They can help you navigate the particulars of switching classes.  
      • Note that sometimes, this requires some third party to come in and ascertain that you’re ready to take on a greater course load.  
      • Especially if you’re planning on taking a summer course for higher placement, check with your guidance counselor first before committing to it, so you’re sure that your school will accept it.   

    Testing Tips

    • If your school requires you to sit down and take an exam for placement, employ the usual testing strategies.  
    • Break down the content into categories so it’s not so overwhelming to study. 
    • Recall practice is the best way to ensure good performance on a test. Don’t just read over necessary knowledge—it won’t stick as well if you don’t practice recalling the information from memory.  
    • On test day, fill everything in, even if it’s a total guess. You just might be right. 
    • Check over your answers, but know that if you feel the impulse to change an answer, your first instinct might be right. 

    Angela Qian


    Senior at Dulaney High school. Editor-in-Chief of Sequel literary arts magazine and Baltimore County student council president.

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