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What You Need to Know about SAT Subject Tests

I’ve had students ask me, “How many SAT Subject tests should I take?” “Will 4 get me into Harvard? Will 6? What about 10?”

The reality is your time is much better spent making sure your GPA is high and your EC pyramid is solid and conveys your uniqueness. In fact, Harvard just recently announced they would no longer be requiring the test. Other top tier schools are likely not far behind.

Memorial Hall

If you still want or need to take the tests, here are my recommendations.

1.Take the subject test for the AP classes you take your junior year. I took AP Chemistry and AP US History my junior year and took the associated SAT Subject (SAT II at the time) tests. It worked out great. I didn’t need to do any extra studying for the SAT Subject tests.
2.Take practice exams for the math level 1 and 2 and see which one you do better on. Take that one. It will probably make the most sense to take it after your junior year assuming you’ve had trig and a little stats.
3.Your tests should reflect the base of your pyramid. If your base is STEM, take a math and science. If your base is politics or social justice, take history, literature, or a language.
4.Take a language (with or without listening) immediately after your third or forth year of a language. This is less about getting into college and more about testing out of language requirements freshman year of college. You only need a 700 to test out of the language requirement. I WISH I had taken the French test at the end of my senior year. After 3 months of no French, I had no chance of testing out of the requirement at Harvard. Instead I had to use 2 of my very few electives as an engineering major on French classes. They were alright, but I would’ve preferred to have options.

That’s it! If you follow these recommendations, you really shouldn’t need any special preparation. But always take at least one practice exam.

Action Steps:

1.Tell me which SAT Subject tests you’re going to take and why.

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2 Responses to “What You Need to Know about SAT Subject Tests

  • Sachin Aggarwal
    6 years ago

    If you are going to take the AP Exam for a language after the 4th year, do you still recommend taking the SAT Subject Test for that language?

    • In your junior year, I would recommend taking the SAT Subject test for any language you are taking an AP exam in. That way you just have to prepare for the format of the SAT subject test since you’ve already spent all year studying for the content through the AP class. A score of 700 or more of an SAT Subject Test in a language or a 5 on a language AP allows you to test out of the freshman language requirement at Harvard. I would recommend not taking one of the “with listening” language SAT subject tests because they are more expensive and only offered in November. You can check out both practice exams to make a final decision though.

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