Which SAT II Subject Tests Should You Take?

By Alex Silva   , , No comments

SAT II Subject Tests

There are 20 SAT Subject Tests, also known as SAT II’s, available for students to take in five general subject areas. Most colleges will recommend or require prospective students to take one of the Subject Tests that correspond with their area or program of study. If the college, or colleges, you are applying to don’t require you to take a specific SAT Subject Tests, then it’s up to you to decide. However, it is highly recommended that you do take one or more of these tests. Here’s why:

  • Taking one or any Subject Test is a great way to express your interest in specific majors or areas of study to the colleges you are applying to. Consider these tests as an opportunity for you to measure your understanding of the subject and show off what you know!
  • Colleges may still consider your SAT II scores even if they aren’t required. College Board notes that almost one million students from around the globe submit their SAT II scores for admission to some of the leading colleges and universities in the U.S.. So if you got a good score, send it in! It will help you stand out, seem ambitious and look prepared.
  • The SAT II is a great way for you to test your own knowledge on a certain subject. Since the Subject Tests are based off material you learn in high school, you technically should already know the answers! Challenge yourself to review some of the courses you took throughout high school and assess how well you know the material.
  • Some colleges will use your SAT II scores to wave a required introductory course from your freshman schedule. Getting credit for some of your basic general education courses can help you get ahead of the game and focus on core classes for your major. Colleges may even use your scores to judge your level of placement in certain courses, this is a good way to avoid having to take a course that’s too easy or too difficult for you.
  • College is a lot different than high school. It’s important that you get accustomed to the transition at an early stage to ensure your college experience is everything it is supposed to be. Taking the SAT II can help you start managing these transitions while still in high school and help build the confidence you’ll need to take on the real thing later on.


Researching what Subject Tests to take is as easy as checking the college’s website or using Google Search! So what Subject Tests should you take and what steps can you take to make your decision easier? Here’s a few tips:

  • Analyze your strengths and weaknesses throughout the subjects you studied in high school, or even on your own free time. You’d be surprised how much you might actually know about topics like history or science!
  • Make a list of the Subject Tests that interest you and compare them with your strengths and weaknesses. Consider taking the time to improve your understanding of different subjects that parallel your career goals.
  • Make a list of all the colleges you are interested in applying to and find out what Subject Tests, if any, they recommend or require for your area of study. Even if it is just recommended, take it! It will help emphasize your determination and passion for following that particular course of study and may improve your chances of being accepted into the program.
  • If a you are interested in taking a Subject Test that isn’t required or recommended, make sure you research what the average score is for that test and then assess whether you feel capable of achieving at least 50-100 points above that average. Remember, you’re trying to improve your chances of getting into a college, not diminish them.
  • If none are required or recommended for your program and you’re still not sure which to take, try this: Take three Subject Tests to demonstrate your abilities over a range of subjects. A good strategy is to take a math SAT II, a humanities SAT II (History or Writing), and a science SAT II.