Should I take SAT II Subject Tests?

There are certain tests that are required in order to apply to some colleges. You may know these as your ACT and SAT. In addition to these more general tests that test your understanding of reading, writing, and math, there are SAT Subject Tests that are offered in specific topics. Not all schools require them in the application process. So, should you take the SAT II Subject Tests?

The short answer is: yes. Even if they aren’t required for the schools that you end up applying to and even if you end up applying to test-optional schools, it’s always better to have them. We always advise preparedness over non-preparedness. You can imagine the chaos and confusion that occurs when a student decides in September that they absolutely must attend Georgetown (a school that “strongly recommends” 3 SAT Subject Tests) but they haven’t taken any SAT IIs. We do everything we can to avoid that exact scenario.

The keys to choosing SAT Subject Tests are the following: pick 2 diverse topics and pick 2 topics that you’ve mastered. They’re scored out of 800. Familiarize yourself with when you should take them. We typically recommend that students take them immediately after completing a particular subject. For example, if you take World History your sophomore year, then take the SAT II on the topic your sophomore spring. That way you won’t need to really re-review any material and you can follow along with your study book during your coursework.

Be sure to review our guide on which SAT IIs to take. SAT IIs are offered in the following subjects:

  • Literature
  • United States History
  • World History
  • Mathematics Level 1 Level 2
  • Biology E/M
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Chinese with Listening
  • French and French with Listening
  • German and German with Listening
  • Modern Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese with Listening
  • Korean with Listening
  • Latin
  • Spanish and Spanish with Listening

If you’re a humanities junkie, then we’d suggest taking a history exam (whichever you feel more confident about) and either a science (perhaps physics) or a math (Math II, preferably).

If you love language, then take a language (WITH listening) in your language of choice, along with a science or math. If English is your favorite class, then take the literature exam.

If you are fluent in a language because you grew up speaking it or speak it at home—TAKE IT. This isn’t the time to challenge yourself just because you think it will look good. If you’re fluent in another language, flaunt it.

It’s always better to have these exams in your back pocket and not need them vs. not having them, and the cram session that inevitably ensues. Additionally, even if schools don’t require SAT Subject Tests, it never looks bad to submit a couple of 790s to bolster your application.

Let us know if you need any help selecting your SAT IIs, registering or studying for them, or reviewing your scores to see if you should re-take them.