Subject Tests: Not Worth the Time

in Opinion by
As shown by the chart, some schools with a competitive admissions process don’t even require SAT Subject Tests. (Photo/

As my junior year is coming to a close and senior year begins creeping up, I think about college and begin to ask myself, “Where should I apply and what is required for me to get accepted?” Of course, I am on top of my junior year grades and am currently studying for the ACT and have already taken the SAT. However, I and many of my friends are now grappling with SAT Subject Tests, a gray area of the college admissions process that is always a question whether to take them.

SAT Subject Tests are standardized tests usually taken to showcase a student’s knowledge of a specific high school subject.  These tests are often used to supplement a student’s application.

With 20 individual tests to choose from, there are five larger sections of subject tests: mathematics, science, languages, English and history.

Although it is true that a good score on a Subject Test will never hurt your chances of getting into college, only about 28 schools nationwide require and recommend them, most of them being Ivy Leagues or top tier schools such as Yale, Harvard, UPenn,Brown and Princeton. At some of those schools, applications do not explicitly require  you to submit subject test scores (although they are sometimes highly recommended). However, the list constantly changes.

As the admissions from Tufts University (sixteen 16 percent acceptance rate) states: “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.”

Yes, taking these tests can provide numerous benefits like standing out in college admissions, showing your interests to colleges, and showing what you learned outside of the classroom, but is it really worth all the additional stress?

Besides Subject Tests, students also have their GPAs, ACT and SAT scores, extracurricular activities, community service and college applications to dwell on, (which are all most of the time required). Why spend your time worrying for a test that may not even be viewed as a part of your application? Even if you do take SAT Subject Tests, the standards are extremely high from the schools that require them, and you will spend your time worrying  how to increase your score or get to that 800 rather than other more important factors.

“MIT has said that its admitted students score between 720 and 800 on science Subject Tests, whereas admitted applicants to Princeton generally score 710-790 on Subject Tests,” Rebecca Safier, who wrote the article “SAT Subject Test Scores for the Ivy League,” said. “If you’re planning to major in math or science or are applying to schools like MIT, an 800 on your math and science Subject Tests would be really helpful, even expected, for your application.”

Testing anxiety, though common and usually not very severe, can be consequential to some as it can cause physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms such as headache, nausea, racing thoughts, fear, difficulty concentrating and procrastination.

So, if you really aren’t in an urgent need of Subject Test scores, why go through the hassle and stress of committing to and taking one?

Subject Test70th %ile+80th %ile+90th %ile+
Chinese with Listening800800800
Ecological Biology690720750-760
French with Listening760800800
German with Listening710740770
Japanese with Listening780-790790-800800
Korean with Listening800800800
Math Level I680-690710-720740-750
Math Level II770-780800800
Modern Hebrew740780-790800
Molecular Biology720-730750-760780-790
Spanish with Listening740-750760-770780-790
U.S. History710-720740770
World History690-700730770

Average percentile scores for SAT Subject tests throughout the U.S. (Source: College Board)

Madison is a junior at American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla. This is her first year on the newspaper staff and is so excited for the many amazing things coming this school year for the Patriot Post. Madison is also a part of TASSEL and the Best Buddies club. She has a passion for photography and loves all types of music.

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