Who Should Take (and prep for) SAT Subject Tests?

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We all recognize the critical role that strong SAT scores play in college admissions. But what about the SAT Subject Tests? Do they make a difference in the minds of college admissions committees? Here’s what you should know.

WHAT THE SUBJECT TESTS DO

The multiple-choice SAT Subject Tests — available in 20 different subjects spanning the liberal arts, STEM, and language — have been traditionally used by colleges as additional criteria for admission, course placement, and student advising. Although college admissions offices are tending to de-emphasize the importance of Subject Tests in an evaluation, there are still reasons to take the exam.

WHY A STUDENT SHOULD TAKE SAT SUBJECT TESTS

There are several instances when taking a Subject Test will help chances of admission:

  • Credentials don’t accurately reflect a student’s ability. Although most universities don’t require Subject Tests, they acknowledge that high test scores could be helpful in certain situations. For example, Harvard suggests that if a student believes his or her other academic credentials (AP results, IN marks, etc.) don’t adequately represent their full academic ability, Subject Tests may bolster chances of admission.
  • Applying to schools with a “fair testing policy.” Some schools have fair testing policies that allow students to use a Subject Test score or an AP score in a particular subject area instead of an ACT or SAT score. This may be a good decision if scores on either of those exams are less than stellar.
  • A student wants to highlight his or her strength in an intended major. Some colleges have very selective admissions for certain majors. Taking Subject Tests that align with a student’s intended major, to show skills in a specialized area of study, can demonstrate a strong commitment and set apart an applicant from a crowded field.

WHEN TO TAKE THE SUBJECT TESTS

In general, students who hope to pursue a STEM major in college are the ones who end up preparing for Subject Tests:  Click to read the full article.

Ian Siegel
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