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 College||Policy||Details|
|Claremont McKenna||Considered||Required for home-schooled students|
|Cooper Union||Considered||School of Engineering will consider Math I or II and Science|
|Cornell||Considered||Recommended for Engineering|
|Duke||Considered||Strongly recommended for students who submit SAT scores|
|Notre Dame||Considered||Required for home-schooled students|
|Pomona||Considered||Encouraged for home-schooled students|
|Swarthmore||Considered||Recommends Math II for engineering majors|
|Vanderbilt||Considered||May be used to satisfy language proficiency or math requirements, depending on program of study|
|Brown||Recommended||Recommends 2 Subject Tests|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Recommended||Each 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
|Dartmouth||Recommended||Recommends 2 Subject Tests|
|Georgetown||Recommended||Strongly recommends 3 Subject Tests|
|Harvard||Recommended||Recommends 2 Subject Tests|
|Princeton||Recommended||Recommends 2 Subject Tests|
No subject preferences except for Engineering, which recommends Math I or II and either Physics or Chemistry
|Rice||Recommended||Recommends 2 Subject Tests related to the intended program of study|
|UPenn||Recommended||Recommends 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 Berkeley||Recommended for Some Programs||College of Chemistry and College of Engineering: Math II and a science closely related to the applicant’s intended major|
|UCLA||Recommended for Some Programs||School of Engineering and Applied Science: Math II and a science closely related to the applicant’s intended major|
|Cal Tech||Required||Math II and a Science|
|Harvey Mudd||Required||Math II and one other subject|
|MIT||Required||Math I or II and Biology, Chemistry, or Physics|
|Boston University||Required for Some Programs||Accelerated Medical Program: Requires Math II and Chemistry, recommends a foreign language|
|Northwestern||Required for Some Programs||HPME: Chemistry and Math II|
ISP: Chemistry, Physics, and Math II
Home-schooled students: Math I or II plus 2 others from different disciplines
|Hamilton College||Test Flexible||Students can satisfy testing requirements with 3 Subject Tests from different disciplines|
|Middlebury||Test Flexible||Students can satisfy testing requirements with 3 Subject Tests from different disciplines|
|NYU||Test Flexible||Students can satisfy testing requirements with 3 Subject Tests from different disciplines|
|Bowdoin||Test Optional||Required for home-schooled students|
|Brandeis||Test Optional||Students can submit 3 Subject Tests in place of either SAT/ACT scores or an academic portfolio|
|University of Chicago||Test Optional||Recommended if not submitting SAT/ACT scores, considered if submitted in addition to SAT/ACT scores|
|University of Rochester||Test 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.