Should You Take an SAT Subject Test?
If you’ve already taken the SAT, you may think you’ve done all you can to get into the college of your choice. But in reality, you can do one more thing to up your admission chances: take an SAT subject test.
SAT subject tests are exactly what they sound like, tests centered around one subject area only. There are 20 different subject tests in five general areas: English, history, language, mathematics, and science.
The wonderful thing about the SAT subject tests is that you can choose which one(s) you want to take. But how do you know whether or not you should in the first place? We’ve put together this list of questions that will help you decide if a subject test is right for you.
- Do you want to set yourself apart on your college application?
Since all potential college students are required to take a standardized test, your ACT and/or SAT scores alone won’t necessarily set you apart from any other applicant. Taking an SAT subject test, however, helps you differentiate yourself from others.
Colleges will be able to look at the subject tests you took and gain a clearer picture of your academic skills, talents, and areas of interest. You can also demonstrate any knowledge you’ve learned about the subject outside of the classroom that may not show up on your high school transcript. And particularly if you’re an ESL student, SAT subject tests can show your competence in less English-heavy topics like math and science, or they can show your ability to successfully understand and use several languages.
- Does your intended college(s) require one or more subject tests?
Some colleges require at least one or more subject tests be completed before they’ll consider accepting you into their institution (Harvard, for example requires three different ones). Some of them even require specific subject tests be completed. In this case, your decision has already been made for you.
However, if your college doesn’t require any specific subject test, you can still choose which ones you want to take for your college admission requirements. As we already mentioned, definitely stick with topics you’re interested in studying in college or areas where you can further demonstrate your academic abilities.
- Do you want to gain early college credit, place out of introductory courses, and proper college course placement?
An SAT subject test can do this for you. You’ll have to check with the college of your choice to see if they will grant you college credit for completing a subject test, but many will do so. They may also consider your subject tests to be acceptable substitutes for introductory level courses, which you’ll no longer have to worry about taking.
Finally, lots of colleges use your tests to verify proper course placement once you arrive on campus, so you’ll have less of a chance of dealing with course mistakes or being required to take a subject you already know very thoroughly.
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, you probably want to consider taking an SAT subject test in high school. For more information about them, visit the Collegeboard.org site.