Why You Should Take the SAT Subject Test

Esther Chung, Co-Editor in Chief

sat-subject-test-infographic-3As deadlines near, high school students may be wondering how to boost their college applications. Though there are multiple ways to make an application stand out, one of the less-considered options available to students are the SAT II Subject Tests. These are hour-long multiple choice exam that test a student’s knowledge in a specific subject. So why should a student consider taking this exam?

Some colleges require or recommend SAT Subject Tests. For example, some engineering schools like UC Berkeley require two: Math 2C and one science test. Additionally, many of the USA’s most prestigious schools require SAT Subject Tests. It is a good idea to always check these requirements before applying, as they change often. Currently, Brown, Harvard, and Cornell all require two. To add to the confusion, Brown will accept the ACT with writing instead of the two required Subject Tests. Besides these specifics, several other highly-ranked schools only recommend or consider these tests.

Even if a Subject Test is not required, taking one or two anyway is a good way to strengthen college applications. By taking this test, it is possible to add more depth and well-roundedness to one’s application without too much extra effort. This is especially helpful for students who are not as satisfied with the marks they have received on previous standardized tests, as they will have the opportunity to show colleges strengths in specific subjects. By taking a subject test, a student can build a stronger profile to present to prospective colleges. Better yet, many of the SAT Subject Test topics are found in school as well, so studying for an subject test is not as difficult as one might expect. However, in preparation for this exam, there are a few things to consider.

Primarily, it is important to figure out what subject test to take. There are 20 subjects to
choose from, covering topics in science, math, history, English, and world languages. (A complete list can be found
here. ) These tests are generally less rigorous than AP course exams, so a thorough understanding of the subject is generally enough to yield a passing grade. When considering which tests to take, it is smartest to avoid risky choices, as a bad SAT II score will have a negative impact.sat-subject-test-infographic-1

Once a student decides to take a test, they must sign up in order to take it.  Signups are
at the College Board’s website. Most high school students who take SAT Subject Tests tend to concentrate test dates in sophomore and junior year, when students have taken enough classes to be competent but still have enough time to submit scores to prospective colleges.

Ultimately, it is important to realize that although academically rigorous colleges may look for these scores, most schools don’t think lesser of those who do not take these exams. All in all, SAT Subject Tests are a lesser-known but great way to boost a high school transcript, but it is entirely up to an individual to decide whether or not these tests are right for them.

Header Photo Courtesy of Nora Martin