Effective 2021, SAT Subject Tests are no longer offered by the College Board. To show subject matter expertise, consider taking AP exams instead.
Between spring break, SAT or ACT test prep, and the day to day grind of tough high school classes, you probably don’t have a lot of attention to spare for anything else…but we’ve got one more thing to put on your radar.
SAT Subject Tests.
These are probably the least well known of all tests relating to college admissions. Everyone knows about the ACT and the SAT, and millions of students take AP exams each year, but out of the roughly seventeen million students who enroll in college each year, only a few hundred thousand take SAT Subject Tests.
Part of the reason that most students don’t take SAT Subject Tests is because of how colleges treat these tests. Whereas most colleges require the ACT or SAT for admission, policies about SAT Subject Tests are a lot less straightforward.
There are a few hundred colleges that include SAT Subject Tests as a part of their admissions decisions, but how these colleges treat Subject Tests varies.
- Considered: Most colleges that will look at SAT Subject Tests during the admissions process simply consider these tests, meaning that they’ll look at an applicant’s Subject Test scores as just another layer to the student’s academic profile. At these colleges, SAT Subject Tests can be helpful in demonstrating academic skill or helping an applicant stand out, but they don’t typically play a huge role in decision-making.
- Recommended: Quite a few colleges recommend that students submit SAT Subject Test scores. When a college recommends that you do something, do it. The college is telling you that they want to see test scores, so it’s to your advantage to give them test scores. Some colleges specify that they STRONGLY RECOMMEND SAT Subject Test scores. For example, Harvard specifically cites financial hardship as the only truly acceptable reason for not submitting two Subject Test scores.
- Required: Several dozen colleges require one or more SAT Subject Tests, and others require Subject Tests for specific majors or programs of study. There is no wiggle room here – if you’re potentially applying to a school that requires SAT Subject Test scores, you absolutely have to take Subject Tests. Some popular colleges that require SAT Subject Tests include:
- Brown University
- Cornell University
- Rice University
Should you take SAT Subject Tests?
Probably. If you’re in honors or AP level classes, it’s to your advantage to take the corresponding SAT Subject Tests. At most colleges, good Subject Test scores can only help your application, and if you do end up applying to a college that requires or recommends that you submit SAT Subject Test scores, it’s better to have the scores on hand than to have to scramble at the last minute to take the tests.
How can you prep for SAT Subject Tests?
- Time to correspond with the end of the year: If you’re taking an honors or AP level class for which you might take the Subject Test, register to take the test in May or June after you finish the corresponding class. So, for example, if you’re taking AP Chemistry right now, you should strongly consider taking the May or June SAT Chemistry test. By taking the SAT Subject Test right after you finish prepping for your class’s final exam or AP exam, you can ensure that the material is still fresh in your mind.
- Prep for the AP exam: One of the best ways to prep for SAT Subject Tests is to kill two birds with one stone by prepping for both the May AP exam and the May or June SAT Subject Test at the same time. There’s a lot of content overlap between these tests, so if you successfully prep for the AP exam, you’ll be well prepared for the SAT Subject Test.
- Time the test for the end of the summer: If you need to take an SAT Subject Test for a subject that you’re not already doing exam prep for, time the test for the end of the summer. This leaves you all summer to prep for the SAT Subject Test on the August test date, and then you’ll have the Subject Tests out of the way before school and the college application season hit full swing. C2 Education’s personalized SAT Subject Test prep is a great option if you want to take advantage of your summer break.
- Take practice tests: Almost all SAT Subject Tests are purely multiple choice tests. By taking a handful of practice SAT Subject Tests, you can familiarize yourself with the types of questions you’re most likely to see on test day, which will help you get through the test more quickly and efficiently.
- Get a good prep book: A good SAT Subject Test prep book will include more than one full-length practice test and relatively thorough summaries of key information on the test.
Be sure to keep SAT Subject Tests on your radar so that you can be fully prepared for your college applications when the time comes!