Not everyone has to take SAT Subject Tests as part of the college application process. In fact, depending on where you are planning to apply, and if you’re taking the SAT or ACT, you may not have to take them at all. Whether you end up needing them or not, it’s important to start thinking about SAT Subject Tests early so that you have enough time to plan and prepare.
The first step in determining whether you need to take Subject Tests is to look at your college list. If you don’t have a college list yet, then think about the colleges you are most interested in right now. Review the standardized testing requirements for those schools. And remember, there are several colleges that will take the ACT in lieu of both the SAT and Subject Tests.
When you’ve collected the standardized testing requirements for the schools you’re interested in, review them all together. This should give you a sense of whether or not you need to take Subject Tests. If you’re still not sure, discuss your testing requirements with an advisor.
You might want to consider taking Subject Tests even if the schools you’re interested in don’trequire them, especially if some of those schools have flexible testing policies. “Test-flexible” colleges will accept two or three Subject Test scores in lieu of the SAT or ACT. If you feel more confident about a curriculum-based test than the SAT or ACT, then you might want to consider taking Subject Tests. That way, when it is time to apply, you will have the most flexibility in choosing which scores to send to test-flexible schools (assuming some of those schools are on your list).
Ideally, you will have taken all of your SAT Subject Tests before the start of senior year. In addition, since the SAT Subject Tests are curriculum-based, it’s best to plan your Subject Tests in advance based on your classes each year. This is another instance where planning ahead means less stress in the long-run.