• September 14, 2015
  • BLOG

What to Know about SAT Subject Tests

Subject Tests
In addition to the SAT Reasoning Test (generally referred to as the SAT) or the ACT, some colleges require students to submit scores from SAT Subject Tests. Most top tier colleges require two (while a small number of colleges, including Georgetown, recommend three). Many colleges do not require any Subject Test scores. The College Board offers 20 different Subject Tests:

Academic Subjects:

  •  Biology
  •  Chemistry
  •  Literature
  •  U.S. History
  •  World History
  •  Math Level 1 (covers two years of high school algebra and one of geometry)
  •  Math Level 2 (covers two years of high school algebra, one of geometry, one of trigonometry and one of pre-calculus)
  •  Physics



  •  Chinese with Listening
  •  French
  •  French with Listening
  •  German
  •  German with Listening
  •  Modern Hebrew
  •  Italian
  •  Japanese with Listening
  •  Korean with Listening
  •  Latin
  •  Spanish
  •  Spanish with Listening

Advice to Students:

Students should take a Subject Test at the end of the academic year during which they are taking the corresponding course, but only if they expect to score above 650. Only the more selective colleges require Subject Tests. To be reasonably competitive candidates for admission to these colleges, students generally must score considerably over 600 on each section of the SAT Reasoning Test. Since students select which Subject Tests they take, colleges presume that the students are taking the tests in subjects in which they excel and expect the students to score higher on a Subject Test than on a section of the SAT Reasoning Test. Therefore, if students are expected to score over 600 on each section of the SAT Reasoning Test, a sub-650 score on a Subject Test will not de deemed very impressive to college admissions offices. It is a good idea to take a practice test several months before the anticipated test date to determine if it is even worth trying to prepare for the Subject Test.

Since the Subject Tests relate to courses offered all four years of high school, it is likely that some ninth and tenth graders should be taking Subject Tests. For example, a ninth grader who is a strong biology student should take the biology subject test in May or June of ninth grade. Similarly a strong tenth grade world history student might consider taking the world history Subject Test soon after completing the course in world history. Additionally, since the materials tested on AP exams and Subject Tests overlap considerably, students preparing for AP exams are advised to take the corresponding Subject Tests the same spring.

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Note: This article discusses information current as of May 2015, and the information presented herein should not be relied upon without consulting directly with the college admissions offices and/or your college guidance counselor.