SAT Subject Tests

What are Subject Tests?

SAT Subject tests are designed to test you in specific subject areas, much like AP exams, except that subject tests are only multiple choice, and only one-hour long. The College Board offers subject tests for 20 subjects (see image below for complete list!)


How are the subject tests scored?

Subject tests are scored on a scale of 200-800, similar to the subsection scoring on the SAT. Scaling and percentiles vary test to test, as do admission requirements for various colleges.

Source: College Board


Which schools require SAT Subject Tests?

Not all schools require subject tests, but some schools either recommend students take the tests, or will consider scores submitted by students.

For schools that require the subject tests, it will be stated in their application process which tests/how many are required for an application.

For schools that recommend the tests, their recommendations vary. Oftentimes, the colleges want to see your subject test scores in order to learn more about you as a student.  These scores add another layer to your application story.

Then there are schools that say subject tests are 'considered,' which simply means they will review the scores if you choose to submit them.

In the case of schools who 'recommend' or 'consider' SAT subject tests, the tests are NOT MANDATORY, but can give an admissions team more insight into who you are as a student, what subjects truly interest you, and how you test in those areas. If there are specific subjects you test really well in, it could be worth it to take the tests, get the high scores, and submit the scores to schools. (See College Board List of Schools)

Source: see CB website for complete list of dates


When are subject tests offered?

Subject tests are offered 6 times a year and are offered on the same dates as the regular SAT test.  The list to the right includes the tests offered on the 3 upcoming test dates. 

Notice that not all subjects are offered on each test date!  You can, however, take up to 3 subject tests on the same day. You cannot take the SAT and a subject test on the same day.

Is there a difference between subject tests and AP tests?

The biggest difference between these two tests is that AP tests can lead to college credit, and SAT Subject tests are not often used for that purpose.

Outside of that, colleges do not explicitly require AP classes or tests, but having them on your transcript will boost the competitiveness of your application. SAT Subject tests are required by some colleges, and can demonstrate mastery of a particular subject.

See our next post for more information/a comparison of the 2 types of tests! 

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