A question that I often get is: Should I take the SAT Subject Tests and if so, which ones should I take?
The answer is a bit complicated, but most competitive colleges prefer or require that you take at least 2 SAT Subject Tests.
To more thoroughly answer this question, we looked at the top 20 schools according to the US News Best Colleges Rankings and Forbes Top Colleges List and have grouped these colleges according to what they require in terms of SAT Subject Tests. But first, a few quick tips:
1. Align your AP test schedule or your final schedule with your SAT Subject Test Schedule. That way you only have to study the topic once.
2. Take tests that you will score well on. Let’s say that you are amazing at Physics – or you are great at Literature – then take those Subject Tests.
3. If possible, take the Math II Subject Test, unless you have not taken Precalculus.
4. Take the SAT or ACT and Subject Tests by November of your Senior Year.
5. If you are a native speaker of a language, take the corresponding SAT Subject Test.
Colleges that require at least 2 SAT subject tests, no matter what:
1. Harvard – (Exceptions for financial hardship)
2. Pomona College
5. Vassar College – (Each SAT Subject Test must be in a different subject)
6. Princeton – (For Engineering: 1 SAT Subject Test in either Physics or Chemistry & 1 in Mathematics—Level I or II)
7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology/MIT – (1 SAT Subject Test in Math Level I or II & 1 in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics)
8. Williams College
Colleges that require either SAT with 2 SAT subject tests or ACT (with writing)*
2. Amherst College
3. University of Pennsylvania
4. Duke University
5. Vassar College – (Each SAT Subject Test in a different subject)
6. Tufts University – (If Considering a Major in the Sciences or Engineering – Take Math Level I or II & Either Physics or Chemistry)
9. Rice University – (SAT with SAT Subject Tests must be in subjects related to area of study)
10. Swarthmore College – (SAT with 2 SAT Subject Tests OR ACT with writing OR SAT & ACT- with or without writing)
Colleges that recommend but do not require 2 SAT subject tests
1. Stanford – (Prefer Math Level II over Math Level I if prepared)
2. Berkeley – (Not required, but highly recommended. SAT Subject Tests are required for College of Chemistry & College of Engineering: Math Level II and One Science – Biology, Chemistry, or Physics depending on the major)
3. UCLA – (Not required, but highly recommended to take – Math Level II and one Science – Biology, Chemistry, or Physics depending on the major)
5. Northwestern – (Chemistry & Math Level II Required if Applying to Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME) – Chemistry, Physics & Math Level II Required if Applying to the Integrated Science Program (ISP))
Colleges that do not require 2 SAT subject tests
1. University of Chicago
2. Vanderbilt University
3. Wesleyan University – (Standardized tests including SAT, ACT, etc. are optional)
4. Bowdoin College – (“Test optional” for both ACT & SAT – About 80-85% of applicants submit scores)
5. University of Notre Dame – (Either SAT or ACT – SAT Subject Tests, AP Tests, & IB Tests only used if they enhance an application – Scores are also used for credit & placement in 1st year studies)
Colleges that are exceptions to the above list
1. Trinity – (Any 2 SAT Subject Tests OR SAT Reasoning Test OR ACT with recommended writing)
2. Georgetown (3 SAT Subject Tests Required)
3. New York University – (ACT with Writing OR SAT Reasoning OR 3 SAT Subject Tests OR 3 AP Exam Scores OR The International Baccalaureate Diploma OR 3 IB higher-level exam scores)
4. Cornell University – (SAT or ACT with Writing – SAT Subject Tests depend on the specific college – a .pdf form of these requirements can be found +here)
Do your research! Disclaimer: this is not a complete list of top colleges and their requirements. Neither does it represent test exemptions. This list also does not specify which SAT II subjects are needed for certain majors at some colleges. This list also does not address home schooled or international student requirements. If you are a home school student, you should plan to take at least 3 SAT Subject Tests if not more. This information was accurate as of June 2015; students should check with universities directly to ensure the accuracy.
Want to learn more about colleges and universities? Check out these related posts!