Which SAT Subject Tests Should You Take
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Stand out in the admission process
Wondering which test to take?
There are 20 Subject Tests across five general subject areas: history, mathematics, science, English and foreign languages. The SAT Subject Tests that you take should be based on your interests and academic strengths. The tests are a great way to indicate interest in specific majors or programs of study (e.g., engineering, pre-med, cultural studies).
You should also consider whether the colleges that you’re interested in require or recommend Subject Tests. Some colleges will grant an exemption from or credit for a freshman course requirement if a student does well on a particular SAT Subject Test.
Think through your strengths and interests
- List the subjects in which you do well and that truly interest you.
- Think through what you might like to study in college.
- Consider whether your current admission credentials (high school grades, SAT scores, etc.) highlight your strengths.
Consider the colleges that you’re interested in
- Make a list of the colleges you’re considering.
- Take some time to look into what these colleges require or what may help you stand out in the admission process.
- Use College Search to look up colleges’ test requirements.
- If the colleges you’re interested in require or recommend SAT Subject Tests, find out how many tests are required or recommended and in which subjects.
What if I don’t know which colleges I’m going to apply to?
You should consider taking Subject Tests in the subjects that you’re interested in and have completed course work for, particularly if you think you may wish to concentrate in that area in college. Many times, students are surprised to find out in the fall of their senior year that a college or a program they’re interested in requires or recommends SAT Subject Tests. You can avoid this last-minute stress by building your credentials along the way when you’re most prepared to do well on these tests. Many colleges that don’t require or recommend Subject Tests will still consider them when reviewing your application.
What if the colleges that I’m interested in don’t require Subject Test scores?
You may still want to take Subject Tests in the subjects that you excel in and submit those scores. Many colleges may still consider Subject Tests when reviewing your application, since they give a more complete picture of your academic background and send a strong signal regarding your readiness to focus on a specific major or program of study. Subject Tests can also help you place into the right courses once you get to college, or potentially receive credit for subjects you’ve performed well in.
Take a look at your current and recent course load
- Have you completed the required course work? The best time to take SAT Subject Tests is at the end of the course, when the material is still fresh in your mind.
- Check the recommended preparation guidelines for the Subject Tests that interest you to see if you've completed the recommended course work.
- Try your hand at some SAT Subject Test practice questions.
Still thinking about which SAT Subject Tests to take? Talk to your teacher or counselor to see which SAT Subject Tests are right for you.
Have more specific questions about SAT Subject Tests? Check out our FAQs to learn more.