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SAT Subject Test Requirements and Recommendations

 

Subject-Tests

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.”
  • Harvard University now recommends two Subject Tests except in cases of financial hardship: “While we recommend that you submit two SAT Subject Tests, you may apply without them if the cost of the tests represents a financial hardship or if you prefer to have your application considered without them…The decision whether to take Subject Tests is entirely up to you. You should ask yourself whether other academic credentials including, but not limited to, AP results, IB marks, A Levels grades, etc., adequately represent your suitability for studying at Harvard. If there is any doubt, you should take two Subject Tests.” 

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.

Trending Flexible
Each year, the requirements and recommendations around SAT Subject Tests (SAT IIs 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.

Required

  • 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.

Recommended

  • 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).

Considered

  • 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 IIs 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 portfolios stand out at one of the most selective universities in the country.

Alternative

  • 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.

CollegeSummarySubject Test Policy
California Institute of TechnologyRequiredCaltech requires the following Subject Tests: Math Level 2, and one SAT Subject Test in Biology (Ecological), Biology (Molecular), Chemistry, or Physics.
Cornell UniversityRequiredCornell requires the SAT or ACT. Some Cornell colleges require 2 Subject Test(s).
Harvey Mudd CollegeRequiredHarvey Mudd requires the SAT or ACT AND 2 SAT Subject Tests (Math Level 2 and one other).
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyRequiredMIT requires the SAT or ACT AND one SAT Subject Test in math and one in science. "We do not have a preference as to which science you take or which level math you take."
McGill UniversityRequired
(or ACT)
McGill requires the SAT and 2 SAT Subject Tests OR ACT. Subject recommendations vary by department.
Brown UniversityRecommended Brown requires the SAT or the ACT . They recommend, but do not require, the submission of two SAT Subject Tests of the student's choice.
Carnegie Mellon UniversityRecommendedCarnegie Mellon requires the SAT or ACT. CMU recommends 2 SAT Subject Tests (for most applicants). Subject recommendations vary by program, but include Math (Level 1 or Level 2). College of Fine Arts programs, with the exception of Architecture, do not require Subject Tests. Carnegie Mellon will only accept Subject Tests taken during 11th or 12th grade.
Dartmouth CollegeRecommendedDartmouth requires the SAT or ACT and recommends 2 SAT Subject Tests.
Duke UniversityRecommended Strongly
(or ACT)
Duke recommends the SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing. It also recommends 2 SAT Subject Tests if applicants submit SAT. Subject Tests are considered if applicants submit ACT. "Applicants to the Pratt School of Engineering who take the SAT must take one SAT Subject Test in Mathematics (level 1 or level 2)."
Emory UniversityRecommendedEmory requires the SAT or ACT. "SAT II subject exams are encouraged, but not required. Students are encouraged to submit SAT subject exam scores for academics areas of strength and/or interest. Since these exams are not required, students have the choice of which subject exams they want to report."
Georgetown UniversityRecommended StronglyGeorgetown requires the SAT or ACT and does not consider the essay from either test. Georgetown strongly recommends 3 Subject Tests. Applicants are required to submit all College Board and ACT scores.
Harvard UniversityRecommendedHarvard requires the SAT or ACT (with or without writing). Two SAT Subject Tests are recommended. "While we recommend that you submit two SAT Subject Tests, you may apply without them if the cost of the tests represents a financial hardship or if you prefer to have your application considered without them."
Lafayette CollegeRecommendedLafayette requires the SAT or ACT and recommends applicants submit SAT Subject Tests.
Princeton UniversityRecommendedPrinceton recommends that applicants submit 2 Subject Tests. Engineering candidates are advised to take a math Subject Test and either chemistry or physics.
Rice UniversityRecommendedRice requires the SAT or ACT and recommends that 2 Subject Tests be taken in subjects related to proposed area of study.
University of DelawareRecommendedDelaware requires the SAT or ACT and recommends (STRONGLY, for the Honors Program) that applicants take SAT Subject Tests.
University of PennsylvaniaRecommendedPenn requires the SAT or ACT. Any 2 Subject Tests are recommended for arts, humanities, and social sciences applicants. STEM applicants are strongly encouraged to take Math Level 2 and a science Subject Test (Physics recommended for engineering applicants). Math Level 2 is recommended for business applicants. Nursing applicants are encouraged to submit a science Subject Test (preferably, Chemistry).
Webb InstituteRecommendedWebb requires the SAT or ACT and recommends the writing section is included. "SAT Subject Tests or AP Tests, particularly those in math and the sciences can demonstrate a student's strengths in those areas to the Admissions Committee. In those cases, we recommend that students submit these scores as part of the admissions process."
Yale UniversityRecommendedYale requires the SAT or ACT and recommends that applicants take SAT Subject Tests.
Amherst CollegeConsideredAmherst requires the SAT or ACT and considers Subject Tests if submitted. Optional essays are recommended.
Babson CollegeConsideredBabson requires the SAT or ACT with Writing. Babson considers SAT Subject Tests if submitted.
Bates CollegeConsideredBates is test optional. Subject Tests are considered if submitted.
Boston CollegeConsideredBoston College requires the SAT or ACT. SAT Subject Tests may "highlight a talent in a specific area."
Boston UniversityConsideredBoston University requires the SAT or ACT. Accelerated medical and dental programs require Subject Tests in Chemistry and Math 2. A Subject Test in a foreign language is also recommended for these programs.
Bowdoin CollegeConsideredBowdoin is test optional. SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests will be considered if submitted.
Bucknell UniversityConsideredBucknell requires the SAT or ACT. SAT Subject Tests will be considered as "supplemental information."
Carleton CollegeConsideredCarleton requires the SAT or ACT with Writing. "Applicants may submit the results of their SAT subject tests. These tests are not required."
Case Western Reserve UniversityConsideredCase Western requires the SAT or ACT and considers optional essays and Subject Tests if submitted.
Claremont McKennaConsideredClaremont requires the SAT or ACT with Writing and considers Subject Tests if submitted.
College of William & MaryConsideredWilliam & Mary requires the SAT or ACT. Subject Tests are optional.
Columbia UniversityConsideredColumbia requires the SAT or ACT and considers Subject Tests if submitted. (This is a new policy for the class of 2017).
Connecticut CollegeConsideredConnecticut College is test optional. Students may choose to submit the SAT Reasoning Test, 2 Subject Tests, or the ACT if they wish. "If you submit multiple SAT Subject Tests, we will consider your two highest scores from two different tests."
The Cooper UnionConsideredCooper Union requires the SAT or ACT. School of Engineering requires SAT Subject tests in Math and either Physics or Chemistry.
Davidson CollegeConsideredDavidson requires the SAT or ACT. "If applicants have taken SAT Subject Tests, Davidson welcomes but does not require those scores."
Franklin Olin College of EngineeringConsideredOlin requires the SAT or ACTand considers Subject Tests if submitted.
George Washington UniversityConsideredGeorge Washington is test optional. SAT or ACT scores and two SAT Subject Tests are required in science and mathematics for the Seven Year BA/MD program.
Johns Hopkins UniversityConsideredJohns Hopkins requires the SAT or ACT. Students may submit Subject Tests as a "way to demonstrate an academic strength . . . Engineering applicants are encouraged to submit Math Level 2 and one science."
Kenyon CollegeConsideredKenyon requires the SAT or ACT. SAT Subject Tests and SAT or ACT essays will be considered as additional information.
Macalester CollegeConsideredMacalester requires the SAT or ACT and will consider SAT Subject Tests if submitted.
Northwestern UniversityConsideredNorthwestern requires the SAT or ACT. Northwestern recommends applicants take 2 SAT Subject Tests. The Honors Program in Medical Education (HPME) requires the Chemistry and Math Level 2 Subject Tests and the Integrated Science Program (ISP) requires the Chemistry, Physics and Math Level 2 Subject Tests.
Oberlin CollegeConsideredOberlin requires the SAT or ACT. SAT Subject Tests will be considered if submitted.
Occidental CollegeConsideredOccidental requires the SAT or ACT. The optional essays are recommended. SAT Subject Tests will be considered if submitted.
Pomona CollegeConsideredPomona requires the SAT or ACT. SAT Subject Tests are optional.
Reed CollegeConsideredReed requires the SAT or ACT. SAT Subject Tests will be considered if submitted.
Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteConsideredRPI requires the SAT or ACT. Applicants to the accelerated program must take the ACT with Writing or the SAT with Essay and 2 SAT Subject Tests (1 math and 1 science).
Smith CollegeConsideredSmith is test optional. SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests will be considered if submitted.
Stanford UniversityConsideredStanford requires the SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing. ALL test scores from ALL dates must be submitted for the SAT and ACT. "SAT Subject Tests are optional. Because SAT Subject Test scores can highlight your areas of strength, we welcome the self-reporting of these results in your application."
Stevens Institute of TechnologyConsideredStevens requires the SAT or ACT. Subject Tests in Math (Level 1 or 2) and either Chemistry or Biology are required for the Accelerated Medical Program.
Swarthmore CollegeConsideredSwarthmore requires the SAT or ACT. The optional essays will not be considered. Subject Tests scores will be considered if submitted. Prospective engineers are encouraged to take Math Level 2.
Union CollegeConsideredUnion is test optional except for the Law and Public Policy Program and the Leadership in Medicine Program. The 6-year law program requires the SAT or ACT. The 8-year medical program requires either the ACT with Writing or the SAT and 2 Subject Tests: one science and one math.
University of California, BerkeleyConsideredUC Berkeley requires the SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing and considers Subject Tests if submitted. College of Chemistry and College of Engineering recommend Math Level 2 and a science related to the applicant's intended major.
University of California, DavisConsideredUC Davis requires the SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing. SAT Subject Tests are considered if submitted.
University of California, IrvineConsideredUC Irvine requires the SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing and considers Subject Tests if submitted. School of Engineering, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Physical Sciences, and Program in Public Health all have specific Subject Test recommendations.
University of California, Los AngelesConsideredUCLA requires the SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing and considers Subject Tests if submitted. School of Engineering and Applied Sciences recommends Math Level 2 and a science test related to the applicant's intended major.
University of California, MercedConsideredUC Merced requires the SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing. SAT Subject Tests are considered if submitted.
University of California, RiversideConsideredUC Riverside requires the SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing and considers Subject Tests if submitted. College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and College of Engineering recommend Math Level 2 and either Chemistry or Physics.
University of California, Santa CruzConsideredUC Santa Cruz requires the SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing. SAT Subject Tests are considered if submitted.
University of California, San DiegoConsideredUC San Diego requires the SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing and considers Subject Tests if submitted. Biological or physical science applicants and applicants to the School of Engineering should take Math Level 2 and a science Subject Test related to the applicant's intended major.
University of California, Santa BarbaraConsideredUC Santa Barbara requires the SAT with Essay or ACT with Writing and considers Subject Tests if submitted. Math Level 2 is recommended for College of Engineering applicants and College of Creative Studies applicants in math, physics, or computer science. In addition, physics, biology, chemistry, and biochemistry majors are encouraged to take the appropriate science Subject Test.
University of ChicagoConsideredUniversity of Chicago requires the SAT or ACT and will consider SAT Subject Tests if submitted. "If you have done exceptionally well on a particular subject test and would like to show us, feel free to send us that score."
University of MichiganConsideredMichigan requires the SAT or ACT and will consider SAT Subject Tests "only in light of how they might benefit your review."
University of North Carolina, Chapel HillConsideredUNC-Chapel Hill requires the SAT or ACT. "You may submit supplemental scores from AP, IB, or SAT Subject tests if you think they are a good reflection of your mastery of the material."
University of Notre DameConsideredNotre Dame requires the SAT or ACT. "SAT Subject Tests, AP, and IB tests are only used in the application process if scores enhance an application."
University of VirginiaConsideredVirginia requires the SAT or ACT and will consider SAT Subject Tests if submitted.
Vanderbilt UniversityConsideredVanderbilt requires the SAT or ACT and will consider Subject Tests if submitted.
Vassar CollegeConsideredVassar requires SAT or ACT. For the class of 2017 and beyond, Vassar no longer requires SAT Subject Tests but will consider them if submitted.
Wake Forest UniversityConsideredWake Forest is test optional. SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests will be considered if submitted.
Washington University in St. LouisConsideredWashington University in St. Louis requires the SAT or ACT and will only "consider [SAT Subject Tests] if they strengthen your application."
Wellesley CollegeConsideredWellesley requires first-year applicants to submit official test results for the SAT or the ACT with Writing. "We have eliminated the SAT Subject Test requirement. Some candidates may wish to provide additional testing to demonstrate particular academic strengths."
Wesleyan UniversityConsideredWesleyan is test optional. SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests will be considered if submitted. All entering first-year students must submit ACT or SAT and two SAT Subject Test scores after the conclusion of the admission process for academic counseling and placement.
Worcester Polytechnic InstituteConsideredWPI is test optional. SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests will be considered if submitted.
Colby CollegeAlternativeColby's testing requirements are satisfied with 1 of the following options: (1) SAT (2) ACT (3) Two Subject Tests.
Colorado CollegeAlternativeColorado College's requirements are satisfied with 1 of the following options: (1) SAT (2) ACT (3) Three exams of the student's choice, including one verbal/writing and one quantitative, selected from the lists provided by Colorado College's website.
Hamilton CollegeAlternativeHamilton's testing requirements are satisfied with 1 of the following options: (1) SAT (Essay optional) (2) ACT (Writing optional) (3) Quantitative, verbal, and writing tests from among SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, and APs.
Middlebury CollegeAlternativeMiddlebury's testing requirements are satisfied with 1 of the following options: (1) SAT (2) ACT (3) Three Subject Tests.
New York UniversityAlternativeNYU's testing requirements are satisfied by fulfilling one of the following: (A) SAT (B) ACT with Writing (C) 3 Subject Tests (D) 3 AP exams (E) The International Baccalaureate Diploma (F) 3 IB higher-level exams (if a student is not an IB Diploma candidate). Students who choose to submit three SAT Subject Test, AP, or IB scores must submit one in literature or the humanities, one in math or science, and one of the student's choice. Some programs have additional requirements.
University of RochesterAlternativeRochester's testing requirements are satisfied with 1 of the following options: (1) SAT (2) ACT (3) 2 or more results from SAT Subject Tests, AP exams, or IB exams.

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.]
Art Sawyer

About Art Sawyer

Art graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where he was the top-ranked liberal arts student in his class. Art pioneered the one-on-one approach to test prep in California in 1989 and co-founded Compass Education Group in 2004 in order to bring the best ideas and tutors into students' homes and computers. Although he has attained perfect scores on all flavors of the SAT and ACT, he is routinely beaten in backgammon.

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