SAT Subject Tests are 20 multiple-choicestandardized tests given by the College Board on individual subjects. They are usually taken to improve a student's credentials for admission to colleges in the United States.
Many colleges use the SAT Subject Tests for admission, course placement, and to advise students about course selection. Some colleges specify the SAT Subject Tests that they require for admission or placement; others allow applicants to choose which tests to take. Students typically choose which tests to take depending upon college entrance requirements for the schools to which they plan to apply. From their introduction in 1937 until 1994, the SAT Subject Tests were known as Achievement Tests, and until January 2005, they were known as SAT II: Subject Tests. They are still commonly known by these names. Every test is now a one-hour timed test. Historically, the exception to the one-hour time was the writing test, which was divided into a 20-minute essay question and a 40-minute multiple-choice section. The writing test was discontinued in January 2005.
A student may take up to three SAT Subject Tests on any given date at a flat rate. There is a per-administration registration fee, plus a flat fee for each test the student plans to take. Students aren't required to take the same number of tests they signed up for, nor are they required to take the same tests they initially indicated when filling out the registration form (except for language with listening tests). If one takes more tests than initially paid for, he/she will be billed later for the additional test(s). Students eligible for an SAT fee waiver are allowed to take up to six subject tests in up to two administrations free of charge.
With the exception of the March test administration, SAT Subject Tests are offered on the same days as the regular SAT Reasoning Test; therefore, students cannot take both the SAT Reasoning Test and Subject Tests on the same day. In addition, not all Subject tests are offered on every test date. Most non-foreign language tests are offered in every administration, but World History and foreign-language tests are only available on certain dates. In particular, the language tests with listening are available only once a year, in November.
Typically, the subject tests are administered in August, October, November, December, May and June. A calendar of test dates and registration deadlines can be found on The College Board's official website.
There are currently 20 different tests, 12 of which are foreign language. Examinees are required to bring an acceptable calculator to take the Mathematics tests (calculators are not permitted on any other test), and a CD player to take the language with listening tests.
|Test||Subject||Mean score (2016)||Standard deviation (2016)||Number of Students (2016)||Notes|
|SAT Subject Test in Literature||Literature||599||122||57,761|
|SAT Subject Test in United States History||U.S. History||624||115||66,967||Formerly American History and Social Studies|
|SAT Subject Test in World History||World History||615||109||15,542||Formerly European History and World Cultures|
|SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 1||Mathematics||599||116||66,058||Formerly Math I or IC.Basic algebra and geometry such as Monomials, Polynomials and the Pythagorean theorem are assessed in the beginning of the exam before progressing into basic trigonometry, algebraic functions, elementary statistics and a few miscellaneous topics.|
|SAT Subject Test in Mathematics Level 2||Mathematics||690||101||145,140||Formerly Math II or IIC. Consists of algebra, geometry, trigonometry, functions, statistics and a few miscellaneous topics.|
|SAT Subject Test in Biology E/M||Biology||616 (E) |
|114 (E) |
|72,196 in total,|
|Students have a choice of taking either an ecological ("E") or molecular ("M") biology oriented test.|
|SAT Subject Test in Chemistry||Chemistry||668||104||71,173|
|SAT Subject Test in Physics||Physics||667||104||56,751|
|SAT Subject Test in Chinese with Listening||Chinese||761||66||4,925|
|SAT Subject Test in French||French||634||121||6,800|
|SAT Subject Test in French with Listening||French||664||113||1,533|
|SAT Subject Test in German||German||636||124||621|
|SAT Subject Test in German with Listening||German||629||121||479|
|SAT Subject Test in Modern Hebrew||Modern Hebrew||614||145||344|
|SAT Subject Test in Italian||Italian||677||114||488|
|SAT Subject Test in Japanese with Listening||Japanese||704||116||1,317|
|SAT Subject Test in Korean with Listening||Korean||764||64||1,891|
|SAT Subject Test in Latin||Latin||632||109||2,483|
|SAT Subject Test in Spanish||Spanish||653||109||18,161|
|SAT Subject Test in Spanish with Listening||Spanish||660||108||2,914|
Previously offered tests
These were discontinued after January 2005 when the SAT II in Writing was incorporated into the SAT.
Scoring and admissions
Each individual test is scored on a scale of 200 to 800; however, some of the tests are scored on such generous curves that it is impossible to get a 200; for example, if someone gets every question wrong on the Mathematics Level 2 test, he/she might receive a score of 310; it all depends on the version of the test. The one and only exception was the ELPT, which was scored on a scale of 901 to 999.
Prior to the first administration of the new SAT Reasoning Test (which includes the writing section) in March 2005, some highly selective colleges required applicants to take three SAT Subject Tests, including the writing test and two other tests of the applicant's choosing, in addition to the SAT. However, with writing now a standard component of the SAT Reasoning Test, most selective colleges recommend applicants to submit scores for any two SAT Subject Tests. Engineering schools may recommend or require Chemistry or Physics and Math Level 2. A handful of the most competitive schools still require three Subject Tests in addition to the three sections of the SAT Reasoning Test, while schools such as Georgetown and Harvard, which earlier required three Subject Tests, now 'strongly recommend' taking three Subject Tests.
Schools also vary with regard to their SAT Subject Test requirements of students submitting scores for the ACT in place of the SAT: some schools consider the ACT an alternative to both the SAT and some SAT Subject Tests, whereas others accept the ACT but require SAT Subject Tests as well. Information about a school's specific test requirements can typically be found on its official website.
In October 2002, the College Board decided to drop the "Score Choice" option for exams, due to the fact that it disproportionally benefited wealthier students taking the exam who could afford to take it multiple times. Score Choice means that scores are not released to colleges until the student approves the score after seeing it. However, the "Score Choice" option was reinstated as of the March 2009 test, meaning test takers again have the ability to choose whether or not to send scores.
The answer sheet has room for 115 answers; however, no test has more than 95 questions. 1–100 are standard multiple-choice bubbles and 101–115 are for 'relationship analysis questions', which are only used for the chemistry exam. The biology test is the only test to use answers 96–100; questions 1–60 are common to both the E and M tests, in addition, the E uses 61–80, and the M uses 81–100.
- ^"U.S. Registration". collegeboard.com.
- ^"SAT Fee Waivers". Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- ^"Test Dates and Deadlines". SAT Suite of Assessments. 2015-12-30. Retrieved 2017-11-15.
- ^"Test Day Checklist". Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- ^"Calculator Policy". Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- ^"CD Player Guidance". Retrieved 8 June 2015.
- ^ abc"SAT Subject Tests Percentile Ranks 2016 College-Bound Seniors"(PDF). The College Board. Retrieved 2017-05-07.
- ^"Math 1 - SAT Subject Test Math Level 1 Practice Questions". collegeboard.com.
- ^"Math 2 - SAT Subject Test Math Level 2 Practice Questions". collegeboard.com.
- ^Real SAT Subject Tests
- ^"Prospective Freshman FAQ". Berkeley Engineering. University of California – Berkeley. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- ^"Freshman Applicants". California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- ^"Standardized Test Requirements & Policies". Carnegie Mellon University. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- ^"Instructions & Preparation". Duke University. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- ^"Tests & Scores". Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- ^"Stanford: FRESHMAN APPLICATION INSTRUCTIONS, 2013 – 2014"(PDF). Stanford University. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- ^Jaschik, Scott (9 August 2010). "Era Ends for 3 Subject Test Requirements". Inside Higher Ed.
- ^Schoenfeld, Jane (24 May 2002). "College board drops 'score choice' for SAT-II exams". St. Louis Business Journal.
- ^"Score Choice™: SAT Score-Reporting Policy". College Board.
Updates for the class of 2019
- Carnegie Mellon University now recommends, rather than requires, Subject Tests. Recommendations for specific programs can be found on the university’s website. Note that the recommendation is still strong for most students: “Some students may find the cost of taking and submitting SAT Subject Tests to be prohibitive. Applicants won’t be penalized if the cost of taking the SAT Subject Tests causes financial hardship and as a result, prohibits their submission.”
- Tufts has dropped its Subject Test requirements. The university now requires only SAT or ACT. “We do not require SAT Subject Tests, the SAT Essay, or the writing section of the ACT; you may submit those scores to Tufts if you choose to sit for these sections, but please note that they are not required and sending them will not increase a student’s likelihood of admission.”
Updates for the class of 2018
- Stanford has softened its policy from recommended to considered.
- Brown University requires the SAT with writing or the ACT with writing. They recommend, but do not require, the submission of two SAT Subject Tests of the student’s choice.
- Washington and Lee no longer requires Subject Tests.
- Mills College is now test optional.
Updates for the class of 2017
- Amherst College, Barnard College, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Duke University, Haverford College, and Vassar College no longer require SAT Subject Tests, but Subject Tests will be considered if submitted.
- Williams College has dropped SAT Subject Tests; University of Virginia has dropped Subject Tests from recommended to considered; George Washington University is now test optional.
- Many of the schools listed below have dropped the Writing requirement for applicants submitting ACT scores, while some have added the SAT Essay as a requirement for applicants submitting SAT scores. [See our list of SAT Essay and ACT Writing requirements for updates and details.]
Other relevant posts include What is the Future of Subject Tests and Adam Ingersoll’s FAQ on the ins-and-outs of Subject Tests, which gives a full perspective on Subject Test decision-making.
Each year, the requirements and recommendations around SAT Subject Tests (SAT II’s for the many still using the old College Board name) grow more diverse. Colleges may find Subject Tests helpful, but they are not always in agreement about how the exams are helpful. The general trend is toward more flexible requirements, and no school has recently tightened requirements. Still, the most competitive colleges in the country tend to be found on this list and skew toward the “required” end of the spectrum.
Safer, Saner, and Sooner
Many colleges, in the words of Carleton College, feel that SAT Subject Tests “usually enhance a candidate’s credentials.” It’s the “usually” part that can make parents and students queasy. At Compass, we spend a lot of time discussing such fears. Practice tests are easy to take, score, and analyze—Compass offers free Subject Test exams almost every weekend of the year. Proctored practice tests are a safer, saner, and sooner alternative to waiting for an exam date to roll around and taking Subject Tests cold.
Colleges Using SAT Subject Tests in the 2018–2019 Admission Process
The table below can be sorted alphabetically or by policy. Keep in mind that a one-word category cannot encompass all situations, which is why the detail is provided. For example, some schools consider Subject Tests for most students but require them for specialized programs. You will find the college name linked to that school’s standardized testing policy.
- Colleges listed as Required have Subject Test policies that require at least a large portion of students to submit scores. In most cases, this means 2 Subject Tests in different subjects. Almost half of the colleges in this group actually allow for the ACT to substitute for both the SAT and SAT Subject Tests. We have left these colleges labeled Required, since SAT submitters will need to take Subject Tests. An applicant should always ask whether an ACT or the SAT Combo Pack better reflects his or her capabilities (and should keep the qualifications of other applicants firmly in mind). Needless to say, an applicant should be making these decisions with input from parents, counselors, and test experts.
- Colleges listed as Recommended range from those schools who find it useful for students to submit SAT Subject Test scores to those who fall just short of Required (Georgetown, Princeton, and Yale come to mind).
- Colleges listed as Considered are those who view Subject Tests as optional “supplemental information.” We only list colleges that specifically mention Subject Tests (or SAT II’s as many admission sites still refer to them). Even in this group, Subject Test scores can be important. Stanford, for example, considers the exams optional, but Subject Tests are an important way in which students can make their testing portfolio stand out at one of the most selective universities in the country.
- Colleges listed as Alternative are the small but growing number of schools that allow an applicant to submit Subject Test scores in lieu of SAT and ACT scores.
Homeschooled and International Students
Homeschooled students and international applicants should not depend upon this list. The requirements for both groups can be considerably more rigorous. Colleges prefer more data points to better understand these applicants’ academic strengths. Homeschoolers should spend the extra time searching out the testing policies of every college to which they might apply.