One of the most common questions we get during the spring testing season is whether or not students should take any SAT subject tests. While nobody wants to add another test to their already packed junior year, the answer depends on the student and where he or she is applying.
If your student is applying to the most selective schools (think Ivy League, MIT, Duke, Georgetown, and other top-ranked colleges), SAT subject tests will be either required or recommended (which really means required). Rarely are these scores a final decision maker, but rather they are an additive measure of a student’s academic potential.
If your student is homeschooled, SAT subject tests can help validate homeschool transcripts and many colleges require these subject tests when applicants are homeschooled.
The other category of students who may want to take SAT subject tests are those applying to highly selective programs at large state universities, such as Berkley Engineering.
Lastly, students applying to schools that offer a test flex plan (such as Colorado College, Hamilton, and NYU) that allows for multiple SAT subject tests to be submitted in lieu of SAT or ACT scores may also want to take SAT subject tests if they are choosing not to take the SAT or ACT.
The good news is that most students applying to college can breathe a sigh of relief – they don’t need to take any SAT subject tests!
What SAT Subject Tests Should My Student Take?
Checking a school’s admission policies is the only way to know for sure what tests that school requires or recommends. But typically students take a math or science test and an English or history test. Those applying to the most selective schools should take Math 2 as it will be expected by schools requiring SAT subject tests. Engineering applicants are usually required to take Math 2 and a science such as physics or chemistry. If you’re particularly strong in another subject, such as a language, taking that test may be a good idea as well if a third test is recommended by the school.
Once you’ve determined which tests you’re going to take, map out your testing plan so you space out your tests and avoid being overwhelmed. Not that anyone would want to, but you can’t take the SAT and a subject test on the same day.
What’s The Difference Between AP Tests And SAT Subject Tests?
AP Tests and SAT Subject Tests are two very different things. First of all, college admissions is not the primary purpose of AP tests. They are taken after completing an AP class to determine mastery of that curriculum and can lead to college credit. Students self-report their AP scores.
SAT Subject Tests are submitted through the College Board and measure high school-level general knowledge of a given topic. They are used in both college admissions and sometimes lead to college credit depending on the college and the score.