College admissions committees consider two primary factors when reviewing applications: academic strength and interest in the college and major in which you have applied.
Academic strength is identified by reviewing your high school transcript (courses and grades earned), SAT or ACT scores, AP and SAT Subject Test scores. Academic interest or fit is demonstrated through your essays, extracurricular engagement (school, summer) and SAT Subject test selection and scores. SAT Subject Tests are the only national exam where you can select the test that best showcases your strengths and interests.
Forty of the most highly selective colleges and universities require SAT Subject Tests, often 2-3. Another 60 or so recommend, and others will consider if submitted. Some colleges specify the SAT Subject Tests are required based on the major, i.e., engineering Math 2 and Science; others allow you to choose. If you are attending a strong feeder high school or one with access to rigorous courses (AP, IB, accelerated) the expectation is that you will take and submit SAT Subject test scores. Colleges that recommend will review your scores as supplemental information.
Most high school students finalize their college list the summer or fall of their senior year and therefore need to be prepared to submit SAT Subject tests. Tests align with high school coursework. The best strategy is to plan to take the corresponding test at the end of each academic year. You have completed the course, content is fresh, and you’re studying for final and AP exams.
Freshman Year – Biology
Sophomore Year – Chemistry, World History, Literature
Junior Year – Math 2, US History, Physics
Senior Year – possible retakes or additional tests
SAT Subject tests are multiple-choice standardized exams and offer 21 options covering 13 different subjects and languages. Most colleges allow you to select which scores to send. Highly selective colleges request all test scores, although they will consider the highest scores submitted and a good score is in the mid to high 700’s.
SAT Subject Tests allow you to enhance your application narrative. If you are taking AP Latin and plan to study Classics, take the SAT Subject Test in Latin to demonstrate your academic interest. Build into your college planning a schedule for taking SAT Subject tests to be prepared to meet the application requirements for a range of colleges.