To Take or Not Take the SAT Subject Tests

Not all SAT tests are created the same.  There’s the SAT Subject Tests and the SAT Reasoning Test.  Generally, people know the SAT Reasoning Test, as those scores are the ones published over and over in the newspaper and on college admissions offices webpages – simply referred to as the SAT.  However, SAT Subject Tests are also offered to students, prompting uncertainty amongst college bound students whether to take or not take the tests.

The head-scratching confusion is warranted.  The tests have been required, then un-required for college admissions eligibility at colleges, and currently are sometimes required, but only at select colleges.  Checking the specific testing policies at each campus can help applicants make informed choices about taking or not taking the SAT Subject Tests, as well as which specific subjects to choose.

For Freshmen through Juniors, unsure about exactly where s/he will apply, erring on the side of caution and taking SAT Subject Tests can provide students with as many options for applications in the future, given the varying nature of the requirements.  Also, in general, since only scores that are considered helpful will be factored in admissions decisions, there is not a downside to taking SAT Subject Tests.  Lastly, scores from SAT Subject Tests provide additional information about a student’s qualifications for admissions, regardless of being required or not.  Probably not a favorite answer, given who wants to wake up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday to take tests that may or may not be required, but a short term sacrifice may make for a long term gain.




When the SAT Isn’t Just the SAT

The multiple versions of SAT tests can confuse students who are trying to create the most competitive college admissions resume possible.  Often, questions like “What the heck is an SAT Subject Test?”  And, inevitably, the question asked is, “Do I have to take the SAT Subject Tests?”



surrounding what is and isn’t the SAT can lead to questions, like “What the heck is an SAT Subject Test?”  And, “How is the SAT Subject Test different than the regular SAT?”  Inevitably, the question on everyone’s minds is, “Do I have to take the SAT Subject Tests?”

SAT Subject Tests are one-hour, multiple choice tests about one subject only, whereas the SAT Reasoning Test includes questions about Reading, Writing and Math, plus asks students to write an essay.  The SAT Reasoning Test is more likely to be required for college applications, while SAT Subject Tests are generally optional.  Each college considers the SAT Subject Tests differently.  Start reviewing the admissions testing policy at colleges as soon as possible to plan accordingly.

There is no downside to taking the SAT Subject Tests.  Taking SAT Subject Tests will help students qualify for the greatest number of college options.  In addition, only SAT Subject Test scores that are helpful will be considered in an admissions decision.  In other words, taking the SAT Subject Tests is a smart idea.  [Sorry, kids; you may have to wake up at the crack of dawn on another Saturday to take tests that may or may not be required.  Think of the tests as sacrificing a few hours of sleep to make for a gain later.]