SAT Subject Test World History Format

What is the SAT Subject Test in World History?

The hour-long SAT Subject Test in World History contains 95 questions. Much like the US History exam, most of the questions offered on the World History test require a handle on facts rather than an ability to apply rules and principles to a question. Uniquely, you can only take the SAT Subject Test in World History in August, December, and June (as you learned in our Ultimate Guide). So be sure to time your study schedule appropriately!

What does the SAT Subject Test in World History cover?

More recent events in world history appear more frequently on the test. That is, there are more questions about the last 1,000 years of history than there are about the 5,000 years before that. Questions concerning prehistory through the 6th century C.E. compose 25% of the exam; the next 1,000 years compose another 20%; the next 500 years compose another 25%; the last 100 years (1900 to the present) appear in 20% of the questions. The remaining 10% of questions are cross-chronological.

European history is disproportionately represented on the World History exam. Questions about the history of Europe and questions about global history — that is to say, questions that concern more than one geographical region — make up a full 50% of questions on the exam. The history of Africa, East Asia, the Americas, Southwest Asia, and Southeast Asia each make up 10% of the questions on the exam. The World History test does not expect you know know any other regions.

What else shows up on the World History test?

Unlike the Math and science tests (e.g. Physics, Biology and Chemistry), which require analysis, many questions on the World History exam simply require fact-recall. For instance, you might see a question such as “Which of the following was a key tenet of early Buddhism?” Some fact recall questions are also visual: you might need to identify the culture of origin of a photo, work of art, or religious symbol.

Beyond mere fact recall, the SAT Subject Test in World History is also composed of cause-and-effect questions. In these, you’ll need to not only remember an event, but also be able to identify the effects of that event. “The Roman Emperor Constantine’s conversion from paganism led to the rise of which of the following religions?” Here, you must recall two facts. Not only did Constantine convert to Christianity, but this conversion allowed Christianity to spread throughout the world.

Finally, you’ll want to have a solid knowledge of geography and be able to recognize unlabelled landmasses.

If you’re a history buff, you might also consider checking out the SAT Subject Test in US History as well! Or the AP exams in History! Or perhaps even the ACT Reading section (Passage III is often about history)!