Is it worth it to take subject tests?

The pros and cons of taking the additional tests

Binqi Chen, Co-Editor in Chief

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While almost every single high school student applying to college will eventually take the SAT or the ACT, there is another standardized test that is often overlooked by most students: subject tests.

The SAT Subject Tests, or often referred to as the SAT II’s, are a series of college admissions tests administered by the College Board that focus on the academic subjects of mathematics, science, English, history, and languages.

The test is scored out of 800 points, with each individual test lasting an hour long. Three tests can be taken on one day.

Within the main subjects, students will need to choose which topic they wish to take. There are two levels of math testing.

Biology (with a concentration in either ecology or molecular biology), chemistry, and physics as the subjects for science.

Literature is the only English test. Students can pick between either U.S. or world history.

The languages have the most options, where test takers can select between Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, Latin, Modern Hebrew, Italian, or Japanese.

Subject tests are a great way for applicants to show off to colleges that they excel in a certain subject or department. There is also such a wide range of subjects to pick from.

A high subject test score will most definitely help a student’s chances in getting into their top choice college. So why aren’t more students taking these tests?

For the most part, it is because most colleges do not require subject testing. Some colleges recommend that students take one or two tests, and others merely do not mention subject testing at all.

The colleges that do require students to take a submit SAT II scores are typically elite colleges with extremely low acceptance rates. This is so that the admissions officers have one more factor to consider when evaluating their applicant pool.

“I believe that taking subject tests are beneficial for me,” said senior Benjamin Lee, who plans on taking the level two math and physics subject tests.

“However, it honestly just depends on what college you are applying to. Since I am planning on applying to Carnegie Mellon and the Tepper School of Business, I have to take them.”

Subject tests are also more rigorous than the regular SAT and will be on the student to make additional time out of their schedule to study and review the material.

Due to the fact that the purpose of the subject tests are for students to show off their expertise in an area of study, getting a proportioned high score may be more difficult.

Other test takers are also confident in their ability in a subject, and therefore even obtaining a perfect on a subject test may only land a student in the 80th percentile.

In conclusion, if a student feels as if he or she excels in a certain subject area, or if the colleges they are applying to require scores, then he or she should take the tests.

It is important to remember that SAT II’s are only meant to help the applicant. Students should not feel pressured to take additional testing on top of their other responsibilities.

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