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Four reasons why high school students should take SAT subject tests

BY LINDSEY CONGER*

The college application process is competitive, with students trying to go the extra mile to outdo their peers. One great way to distinguish yourself from the crowded application field is to take the SAT Subject Tests. 

SAT Subject Tests are designed to test your knowledge in one particular subject, like physics, calculus, chemistry, or a foreign language. Altogether, there are 21 different subject areas you can decide to take. Here are four reasons why you should take the SAT Subject Tests. 

1. Some Colleges Require It

The SAT Subject Tests aren’t always optional: MIT requires that their students take at least two SAT Subject Tests to be considered for admission. Other colleges, like Carnegie Mellon University and Emory University, recommend that you take them. You don’t want to be at a disadvantage if other applicants in the pool are submitting SAT Subject Tests.

When creating your college list, check to see if the schools require or recommend that you take these tests so you can plan accordingly. 

2. Showcase Your Strengths

Unlike the SAT or ACT, where you can’t control what you are tested on, the SAT Subject Tests let you choose the subjects you want to take. Whether you love chemistry, literature, or French, there is an SAT Subject Test you can take that lets you showcase your interest in the subject matter. 

Even if the university doesn’t require that you take an SAT Subject Test, it can be a great way to distinguish yourself and establish yourself as a top candidate for admission. 

3. Display Interest In A Major

If you already have decided on a college major, a corresponding SAT Subject Test can help to prove your interest in the subject and show how you are qualified to handle the college-level course material. 

For example, if you are planning on majoring in a STEM field, you might want to consider taking a Subject Test in physics or chemistry to prove your skills. 

4. Help With College Course Placement

While you don’t get college credit for a high SAT Subject Test score, it does help with college course placement. At Harvard University, the SAT Subject Tests can be used to pass language requirements so long as you get a 700 or better. However, even if you haven’t taken the SAT Subject Tests, Harvard will accept a Higher Level IB language exam or a 5 on an AP language exam to help you place in a more advanced language course. And even if you didn’t take or couldn’t financially afford the tests, you can take a placement test when you arrive at Harvard as well. 

Don’t think of SAT Subject Tests as just another test you need to take to get into college. Instead, consider them an opportunity to add variety and depth to your college application. For some, the SAT Subject Tests are another important piece of the college admission process.

*Lindsey Conger is a college counselor for MoonPrep.

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