SAT Subject Tests- Should You Take Them?

SAT Subject Tests are college admission exams on specific subjects. These are the only national admission tests where students can choose the tests that best showcase your strengths and interests. The SAT Subject Tests are conducted by the College Board.

The Basics

  • There are 20 SAT Subject Tests in five general subject areas: English, history, languages, mathematics and scienceSee the subjects.
  • Each Subject Test is an hour long. They are all multiple-choice and scored on a 200–800 scale.
  • Subject Tests test you on your knowledge of subjects on a high school level. The best way to prepare is to take the relevant courses and work hard in them.

When, Where, and How

  • SAT Subject Tests are generally given six times in any given school year, on the same days and in the same test centers as the SAT — but not all 20 tests are offered on every SAT date. Find out when specific tests will be given.
  • The Language with Listening tests are only offered in November.
  • You can take one, two, or three Subject Tests on any test date.
  • You can’t take the SAT and an SAT Subject Test on the same day.
  • Some SAT Subject Tests require you to bring special equipment — for example, CD players for Language with Listening tests.
  • You choose what tests to take when you register, but on test day, you can add, subtract, or switch tests — with some limitations. Learn more.

Should you take SAT Subject Tests?

Need for taking SAT Subject Tests can be influenced by the type of college a student is applying and the student’s personal preferences.

You need to take SAT Subject Tests if

  • Colleges in your list require these tests: Some colleges require or recommend that you take SAT Subject Tests, especially if you’re applying to take specific courses or programs. You can check the colleges’ application requirements in order to decide on taking subject tests.
  • You want to stand out in College Admission Process: Even colleges that don’t require Subject Tests may accept them and use them in admission to get a more complete picture of applicants. By sending Subject Test scores to colleges, you can showcase your strengths in certain subjects of your interest. With good scores in your subjects of interest, you can stand out from the crowd.
  • You are showing your interests to your college: You can send a strong message to colleges about your interest in specific majors or programs — and how ready you are to tackle the work.
  • You want to show what you have learned outside the classroom: Have you taken a summer program, weekend classes, or an online course — or studied a subject on your own? Taking a Subject Test is one way to show the skills and understanding you gained.

Benefits to international and bilingual or Multilingual Students

International students:  If your English is not strong, you can use Subject Tests to show your academic strength in math, science, or other languages. Also, many international colleges use Subject Tests to make decisions about admission or placement, so taking the tests gives you more opportunities. And taking Subject Tests can help you see how well you’ve learned the subject matter compared to other students around the world.

Bilingual or multilingual students: If you speak a language other than English, SAT Subject Tests are a great opportunity for you to show your skills. You may be able to fulfill foreign language competency requirements for some colleges. Be sure to check policies on SAT Subject Tests in foreign languages for the colleges you are interested in.


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