SAT World History Subject Test Study Guide

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World history – it's not just for the History Channel buffs. You can actually study for and take an entire test all about world history when you sign up for the SAT World History Subject Test. It's one of many SAT Subject Tests offered by the College Board, which have been designed to showcase your brilliance in a plethora of different areas.

This one, in particular, helps you demonstrate your expansive knowledge of things like wars, famines, the rise and fall of civilizations, etc. from Before Common Era through the 20th century. How's that for expansive?

Note: The SAT World History Subject Test is not part of the SAT Reasoning Test, the popular college admissions exam.

SAT World History Subject Test Basics

Before you register for this test, here are the basics about the manner in which you'll be tested.

  • 60 minutes
  • 95 multiple-choice questions
  • 200-800 points possible
  • Questions may be asked individually or could be placed in sets based on quotes, maps, charts, cartoons, pictures or other graphics.

SAT World History Subject Test Content

Here's the good stuff. What in the world (ha!) are you going to need to know? A ton, as it turns out. Take a look:

Locations of Historical Information:

  • Global or Comparative history: Approximately 23-24 questions
  • European history: Approximately 23-24 questions
  • African history: Approximately 9-10 questions
  • Southwestern Asian history: Approximately 9-10 questions
  • Southern and Southeastern Asian history: Approximately 9-10 questions
  • Eastern Asian history: Approximately 9-10 questions
  • The Americas history (excluding the United States): Approximately 9-10 questions

Time Periods:

  • B.C. E to 500 C.E.: Approximately 23-24 questions
  • 500 C.E. to 1500 C.E.: 19 questions
  • 1500 to 1900 C.E.: Approximately 23-24 questions
  • Post 1900 C.E.: 19 questions
  • Cross-chronological: Approximately 9-10 questions

SAT World History Subject Test Skills

Your 9th grade world history class isn't going to be enough. You need more than just a meager knowledge of the Romans to do well on this thing. Here's the kind of stuff in which you should be well-versed before you sit for the test:

  • Taking a multiple-choice test
  • Recall and understanding of historical concepts
  • Analyzing cause and effect relationships
  • Comprehending geography necessary for comprehending history
  • Interpreting maps, charts, graphs and other graphics

Why Take the SAT World History Subject Test?

For some of you, you'll have to. If you're applying to enter a history program, especially one that focuses on world history, then you may be required to take it by the program. Check with your admission's counselor! If you're not required to take it, but you're seeking admission to some sort of historical program, it might be a good idea to go ahead and take it, especially if world history is your thing. It could showcase your knowledge if your regular SAT score wasn't so hot, or it could help to offset a less than stellar GPA.

How to Prepare for the SAT World History Subject Test

If you have 95 questions based on anything from early humanity to the year you were born, then I'd study if I were you. The College Board offers 15 free practice questions for you, so you can get a feel for how you'll be tested. It also provides a second pamphlet with the answers. We recommend a college-level world history course, with some expansive world history reading on the side. Test prep companies like The Princeton Review and Kaplan also offer some test prep for the World History Subject Test for a fee, of course.

Sample SAT World History Question

This sample SAT world history question comes straight from The College Board, themselves, so it should give you a snapshot of the kinds of questions you'll see on test day (since they wrote the test and all). By the way, the questions are ranked in order of difficulty in their question pamphlet from 1 to 5, where 1 is the least difficult and 5 is the most. The question below is marked as a difficulty level of 2.

11. Social Darwinists such as Herbert Spencer argued that

(A) competition allows individuals to develop their talents and meet their needs
(B) competition and cooperation are equally important in building a productive and compassionate society
(C) human societies progress through competition since the strong survive and the weak perish
(D) human societies progress through cooperation, a natural instinct that should be encouraged
(E) God predetermines that some members of society are fated to succeed and some members are fated to fail

Answer: Choice (C) is correct. Social Darwinists such as Herbert Spencer argued that the history of human societies and races has been shaped by the same principles as those that Charles Darwin had postulated for biological evolution, namely the principles of natural selection and survival of the fittest. Social Darwinists, therefore, tended to interpret the geopolitical dominance of Europe (and people of European birth or ancestry) in their late-19th- and early-20th-century world as both proof for the argument that Europeans were more highly evolved than other races and as a justification for continued European colonial rule worldwide.

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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "SAT World History Subject Test Study Guide." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Roell, Kelly. (2021, February 16). SAT World History Subject Test Study Guide. Retrieved from Roell, Kelly. "SAT World History Subject Test Study Guide." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 30, 2023).