Are SAT Subject Tests required at the schools you want to apply to? Contact C2 today for a free consultation on how to approach these tests!

Effective 2021, SAT Subject Tests are no longer offered by the College Board. To show subject matter expertise, consider taking AP exams instead.


When it comes to college admissions tests, some questions are easier to answer than others. For instance, you already know that you almost certainly need to take the SAT or the ACT. And you probably want to take steps to prepare for those tests. But what about those weird second-cousins to the SAT, the SAT Subject Tests? Are SAT Subject Tests required?

The answer to that question is a little more complex. Colleges have widely differing policies about SAT Subject Tests. We’ve compiled a list of top colleges and their SAT Subject Test policies to help you figure out the best testing strategy.

SAT Subject Test Policies

SAT Subject Test policies can be put into five categories:

  • Required: Colleges that require SAT Subject Tests don’t give you any wiggle room—if you don’t submit those SAT Subject Test scores, your application will get tossed to the side. Some of these colleges require SAT Subject Tests for all applicants; others only require SAT Subject Tests for certain programs. Some require specific SAT Subject Tests while others allow you to pick which tests you want to submit.
  • Recommended: At these schools, your application won’t be disregarded for a lack of SAT Subject Test scores, but the admissions committee really wants to see those scores. Some of these colleges even specify on their websites that SAT Subject Tests are recommended for any student for whom the tests do not pose a financial hardship (Harvard, Princeton, and the like), basically leaving the door open for low-income applicants but telling all others that this isn’t really just a suggestion. If you’re applying to schools that recommend Subject Tests, you should plan to take Subject Tests.
  • Considered: These schools will take your SAT Subject Test scores into account if you submit them, but they won’t mark down your applicant for not submitting SAT Subject Test scores. In other words, if you’ve got good scores, send them in—they can only help. If you don’t have good scores, don’t send them—it won’t hurt.
  • Test Flexible: These schools have testing requirements that can be satisfied through multiple options, and submitting a certain number of SAT Subject Test scores is one of them.
  • Test Optional: These schools don’t require any test scores at all, but they may still recommend Subject Tests for certain groups of students.

This chart shows the standardized testing policies for the 2019 application season. Remember—colleges can change their minds from year to year! You should always visit a college’s website to confirm testing requirements before you apply.

Name of CollegePolicyDetails
Claremont McKennaConsideredRequired for home-schooled students
Cooper UnionConsideredSchool of Engineering will consider Math I or II and Science
CornellConsideredRecommended for Engineering
DukeConsideredStrongly recommended for students who submit SAT scores
Johns HopkinsConsidered
Notre DameConsideredRequired for home-schooled students
PomonaConsideredEncouraged for home-schooled students
SwarthmoreConsideredRecommends Math II for engineering majors
VanderbiltConsideredMay be used to satisfy language proficiency or math requirements, depending on program of study
BrownRecommendedRecommends 2 Subject Tests
Carnegie Mellon UniversityRecommendedEach college has separate recommendations:

·         College of Engineering recommends Math II and Physics or Chemistry

·         Dietrich College of the Humanities and Social Sciences recommends Math I or II and one additional test

·         Information Systems majors are recommended to take Math I or II and one additional test

·         Mellon College of Science recommends Math II and one Science

·         School of Computer Science recommends Math II and one Science

·         Tepper School of Business recommends Math II and one additional subject

DartmouthRecommendedRecommends 2 Subject Tests
GeorgetownRecommendedStrongly recommends 3 Subject Tests
HarvardRecommendedRecommends 2 Subject Tests
PrincetonRecommendedRecommends 2 Subject Tests

No subject preferences except for Engineering, which recommends Math I or II and either Physics or Chemistry

RiceRecommendedRecommends 2 Subject Tests related to the intended program of study
UPennRecommendedRecommends 2 Subject Tests

Subject preference varies by major

·         Arts/Humanities/Social Science: Any 2 subjects

·         Nursing: Science, preferably Chemistry, and another subject

·         STEM: Math II and a Science

·         Business: Math 2 and another subject

UC BerkeleyRecommended for Some ProgramsCollege of Chemistry and College of Engineering: Math II and a science closely related to the applicant’s intended major
UCLARecommended for Some ProgramsSchool of Engineering and Applied Science: Math II and a science closely related to the applicant’s intended major
Cal TechRequiredMath II and a Science
Harvey MuddRequiredMath II and one other subject
MITRequiredMath I or II and Biology, Chemistry, or Physics
Boston UniversityRequired for Some ProgramsAccelerated Medical Program: Requires Math II and Chemistry, recommends a foreign language
NorthwesternRequired for Some ProgramsHPME: Chemistry and Math II

ISP: Chemistry, Physics, and Math II

Home-schooled students: Math I or II plus 2 others from different disciplines

Hamilton CollegeTest FlexibleStudents can satisfy testing requirements with 3 Subject Tests from different disciplines
MiddleburyTest FlexibleStudents can satisfy testing requirements with 3 Subject Tests from different disciplines
NYUTest FlexibleStudents can satisfy testing requirements with 3 Subject Tests from different disciplines
BowdoinTest OptionalRequired for home-schooled students
BrandeisTest OptionalStudents can submit 3 Subject Tests in place of either SAT/ACT scores or an academic portfolio
ColbyTest Optional
University of ChicagoTest OptionalRecommended if not submitting SAT/ACT scores, considered if submitted in addition to SAT/ACT scores
University of RochesterTest Optional

Are You Taking the SAT Subject Tests?

Once you’ve researched and found out that the schools you want to apply to require or recommend the SAT Subject Tests, it’s time to start planning out your test prep strategy. To get started, you can read our blog post on “Prepping for the SAT Subject Tests.” You can also get a free consultation at your local C2 Education center and develop your own personalized test prep plan.

Contact your local C2 center today for a free SAT prep consultation!