On top of the inescapable mass of tests that defines junior year, there’s yet another test for you, the incoming junior (or perhaps senior), to consider: the SAT subject test. If you are like me, you might already be incredibly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of tests you will be held accountable for this year. Whether you’re taking the SAT or ACT, your school/state’s standardized test, any amount of AP tests, and of course midterms, finals, and other in-school tests, it’s an undeniable fact that students are expected to test, test, and then test some more. Deciding to prepare for and take another test can be somewhat of a big commitment, so before you log onto collegeboard and submit your payment for a subject test (also known as the SAT 2), it will be quite valuable to evaluate the pros and cons of taking an SAT subject test.
The first factor that comes into play is whether the colleges you will be applying to require these scores. If you are certain that your top choice(s) consider this test mandatory, then you will know right off the bat that you must allocate ample time to study for the subject tests.
However, a more difficult scenario is when the colleges you plan on applying to only recommend these tests. In this case, the best way to determine whether these tests are for you is to evaluate which ones you are applicable to take. Based upon the classes you’ve taken, you can narrow down which tests are available to you. If you feel that there are tests of subjects which you have either taken classes in recently, or you feel you have near-complete mastery of, there is all the more reason to consider taking it—you likely will not need to spend a huge amount of time prepping, which will make the test-process one that is free of excess stress.
Taking an SAT subject test might also be more appropriate for you if you are interested in demonstrating a personal strong suit to a college. For example, if you are applying to a competitive engineering program, you might find success in taking a math and/or science subject test and submitting this score in hopes of increasing your odds of acceptance.
Another potential reason for taking a subject test would be to show an area of focus if you are lacking in a different area. If math is your forte, and English is not so much, submitting an additional math score can demonstrate to a school that you are conscious of your strengths and weaknesses. If you have a deep understanding of certain subjects, sections on your SAT or ACT that may not accurately represent you as a whole can potentially have a lesser negative impact on the admissions decision.
It is immensely important that you do research on the schools you wish to apply to early on, because in doing so you may find that some may not even take such a score into consideration at all. If many of your potential schools follow this policy, SAT subject tests may not be a good route for you.
In most circumstances, your ultimate decision of taking or not taking the test will not make or break your acceptance. Colleges take a look at the applicant from a much broader perspective, and other aspects will likely play a greater role in your outcome. Whether you decide to follow through with an SAT2 (or two), I wish you luck with your college search, application process, and enrollment.