Should I take SAT Subject Tests?

In some cases you'll be required by a college's admission process to take specific SAT Subject Tests. Here are other reasons to take the Subject Tests.

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Originally Posted: Jul 14, 2011
Last Updated: Jan 31, 2019

Will ZuberbuhlerWill Zuberbuhler
Director of Business Development
Triumph College Admissions

In some cases you’ll be required by a college’s admission process to take specific SAT Subject Tests. Here are other reasons to take the Subject Tests: Some colleges or universities will recommend but not require you take specific Subject Tests. In these cases it’s a good idea to do so. The Subject Tests enhance your college application. Finally, some colleges and universities will use Subject Tests for the purposes of placement. Your score on the test(s) could fulfill some course requirements or you may even receive credit for introductory-level courses.

Stephen A. JohnsonStephen A. Johnson
Bright Minds Tutoring Inc.
First of all, many colleges and universities are starting to back away from requiring Subject Tests from freshman applicants. Check the websites of the schools you’re interested in to determine which, if any, actually require these tests. Schools that do require Subject Tests typically ask for two or three tests to be submitted as part of your application.

My suggestion is that you select Subject Tests that fall into the following categories:

  1. Displays subject mastery
  2. Relevance to your selected major of study
  3. Relevance to information you will highlight in your college applications

Depending on your major of study, some colleges and universities will let you know which Subject Tests you must take. Whenever you have the freedom of choosing for yourself, however, you should think about your personal strengths and experience. Are you fluent in a foreign language? Love history or science? Is literature your thing? Have you invested a considerable amount of time into studying for the math content of the ACT or SAT? The answers to these questions can help direct you toward SAT Subject Tests that can showcase your strengths.

After giving some thought to these questions, your next stop is to visit the College Board website and try out some of the practice questions they have for each Subject Test offered. This will provide some insight on their content.

And it might go without saying, but if you are choosing the tests to take, you should only officially take Subject Tests on which you are confident you can earn a high score! Once you have decided which test(s) you will take, you should get your hands on a few full-length practice tests, take them, score them, and then review any areas where you’re not strong. Each test is scored out of 800 points, and your goal should be to submit scores that are 600 points and above.

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