SAT 2 Subject Test Requirements Ivy League & More 2019-2020

One of our main goals at TKG is to make the process of applying to college less stressful. We don’t like it when things are left unclear, and SAT 2 requirements often fall under that category.

There are two reasons why SAT 2’s are tricky. The first reason is that you might have heard, or read, that SAT 2’s are being slowly phased out. Which means that you might not have taken them. And while it’s true that certain schools no longer technically require them, SAT 2’s are still very much a thing.

The second reason is a whole mess. When you actually start looking at the requirements by school, there’s a lot of unclear verbiage being used on the internet. There are schools that require SAT 2’s, there are schools that “recommend” them, there are schools that will “consider” them, there are schools that simply “accept” them (but it is not clear what they will do with that data), there are schools that “don’t actively encourage submitting scores,” and there are schools that don’t care about them at all. Some schools keep it super casual and say “feel free” to send scores if it so pleases you, but no worries if you don’t. We actually prefer a straight up requirement as it relates to SAT 2’s because at least in that case you know that 1) you need to take them and 2) your score will be a factor in the admissions process.   

We’ll get to whether or not it’s “worth it” for you to take SAT 2’s later on in this post but our general feeling is that it’s better to have taken the tests and not need them, than to need them and not have them. You do not, we repeat, do NOT, want to be in a situation where you realize last minute that your application is incomplete. And at the risk of being the bearer of bad news, you should be taking them throughout your high school career, not jamming them all into the already stressful senior year.  

In an effort to create an internal master document (and this blog post) on this year’s SAT 2 requirements, we embarked on the long and harrowing journey of contacting a number of schools that our clients and readers commonly apply to. By “a number of,” we mean 75+ schools. It took forever. Our methodology was this: google X school and find their SAT 2 requirements on their website, call the admissions office of X school and ask them directly about said policy, and then ask what percentage of students send in their SAT 2 scores. (The last part, about what percentage of students send in their scores, was nearly impossible to find but we have included what information we could gather in this post).

A frustrating aspect of this process was the fact that many schools say that submitting SAT 2 scores is, essentially, up to you. But when you call some of those schools directly, some say that they certainly take note of the absence of SAT subject test scores. It’s pretty much exactly like an “optional” writing supplement. Spoiler alert: nothing is optional. And we have deduced that the more data you can send to a school, the better. At top-tier and highly competitive schools, it’s safe to say that people are sending in their scores.  

The most important piece of advice that we can give to anyone about SAT 2’s is that you should call all of the schools that you plan to apply to and ask them their preferences. And call them early. This will require you to think ahead, but it’s the best way to prepare yourself for application season. Yes, we are going to break things down below by school. But this blog post does not include every school, we’re human and could have missed something, and things change. Seriously, if you take one thing away from this incredibly long-winded blog post, it should be to call all of the schools that you’re interested in. And don’t just ask if subject tests are required. Ask what tests that prefer, ask about Math 1 vs. Math 2, ask about program specific requirements, and ask what percentage of students are sending in scores.  

Here are our main takeaways:

  1. If you were home schooled, submit two SAT 2’s in two different subjects.

  2. Focus on SAT 2’s that will emphasize your academic interests. Most students submit two tests. If you’re applying to a math or science program, submit at least one SAT 2 in one of those fields. Same goes for humanities. Think of sending in a biology subject test score as a way to highlight your dedication to the field.

  3. Some schools have specific SAT 2 requirements based on what program you’re applying to. Do your research. There are far too many specifics to go into on this post. We don’t know your life or what specific programs you’re going to apply to. These requirements are also subject to change yearly, which is why it’s best to google AND call the school directly.

  4. Generally speaking, there is little difference between a school that requires SAT 2’s and a school that recommends/highly recommends/encourages them. Why? Because when a school recommends submitting two SAT subjects test, most students are submitting them. So when you don’t, it doesn’t look great.* The conclusion that we came to after calling schools directly is that more data is better. You don’t want to give your dream school any reason to discount your application. And P.S.: everyone is sending scores to the Ivy’s.

*The list below also includes schools that are technically “SAT subject test optional.” But we are including them on this list because a majority of applicants submit their scores to these schools, so not submitting them could make your application stand out (and not in a good way.)

Schools that require and/or recommend SAT 2’s:

  • Brown

  • Columbia

  • Cornell

  • Dartmouth

  • Harvard

  • UPenn

  • Princeton

  • Yale

  • Duke

  • Georgetown ***recommends 3 subject tests.

  • Harvey Mudd

  • Johns Hopkins

  • Lehigh

  • MIT

  • Stanford

  • University of Chicago

  • UC Schools

  • Emory

  • Carnegie Mellon

  • Lafayette

  • Rice

  • Tufts

  • Notre Dame

A list of schools that will *consider* scores if sent:

  • Amherst

  • Bates

  • Boston College

  • Boston University

  • Bowdoin

  • Bucknell

  • Claremont McKenna

  • Colby

  • College of William and Mary

  • Connecticut College

  • Davidson

  • Kenyon

  • Macalester

  • Northwestern

  • Oberlin

  • Occidental

  • Pomona

  • Smith

  • Swarthmore

  • Tulane

  • Union

  • UNC Chapel Hill

  • Vanderbilt

  • Vassar

  • University of Virginia

  • Wake Forest

  • Washington and Lee

  • Washington University in St. Louis

  • Wellesley

  • Wesleyan

Again, just because your dream school landed on the “considered” list does not mean that you’re definitely off the hook. Use your best judgment. The schools on the list above state on their website that scores will be considered if you send, but only they know for certain how a lack of scores will affect your candidacy.

If you’re confused or still have questions after reading this, we get it. You’re probably wondering if it’s worth it to take the SAT 2’s, if it’s worth it to send your scores, and what kind of scores these schools are looking for. We can’t answer the question of if it’s worth it to take the SAT 2’s without knowing your background, it really depends on a number of factors. Let’s run through a few scenarios.

If you’re reading this now and you just finished your junior year and haven’t taken a single SAT subject test, your time might be better spent elsewhere.

If you’re a sophomore and haven’t taken anything, start planning ahead. Some schools will only accept tests that you’ve taken junior and senior year anyway. Start researching the schools you’re interested in, get to know their policies, and plan accordingly.

If you just got a 730 in Biology and 770 on English, should you send your scores? Absolutely. Anything above 700 should be sent to any school you want to attend, especially an Ivy League school.

We’ve done a lot of research on this. Contact us here if you want help.