How Important are SAT Subject Tests?Which Ones Should I take?

For many high school students across the world, the SAT Subject Tests can cause a bit of confusion. Students often get confused on certain aspects, such as which Subject Tests to take, when to take them, and how important they actually are for your college admissions.

In this blog post, you’ll find a guide to the importance of SAT subject tests and figure out which ones you might (or might not) need to take to.

SAT Subject Test Options:

There are 20 different SAT Subject Tests ranging across several subjects. Here is a table of all the different tests that College Board offers:

Math: Math Level 1, Math Level 2

Science: Biology E/M, Chemistry, Physics

English: Literature

History: US History, World History

Languages: Spanish, Spanish With Listening, French, French WIth Listening, Chinese With Listening, Italian, German, German With Listening, Modern Hebrew, Latin, Japanese With Listening, Korean With Listening

What do Colleges Require? How Important are they for Admission?

It is important to understand your college's requirements for these subject tests. For example, some ivy league universities can require Subject Tests (such as Princeton) or they could be optional and could only help your admission. It is also important to consider subject tests for fields you are interested in or looking to pursue.

Some of the more selective colleges prefer a wide variety of knowledge across a diversity of subjects.

However, generally speaking, SAT Subject Tests are among the least important for college admission. In this graphic, you’ll find the most and least important aspects of college admission surveyed across many schools:

As you can infer from this graphic, Subject Test Scores are not as important as things such as GPA, SAT, Essay’s, etc for universities in the US.

From our research, (excluding the current state of the coronavirus as things are subject to change), the SAT accounts for nearly 40 percent of your admission while Subject Tests can only leverage a smaller amount. However, this is not to say that these exams will not have any impact, as good scores can impress universities on mastery of certain skills and subjects.

Which Subject Tests Should You Take?

The purpose of these SAT Subject Tests are to show universities subject mastery, that you know the content of the subject extremely well and that you’ve taken the time to study for this exam while working on other things such as SAT and GPA.

However, when looking to decide which one of these 20 exams to take, it’s important to ask the following question to yourself:

  • What have I studied in High School?

  • What classes have I done really well in?

  • What topics do I know really well?

  • What are my future goals? Do I want to pursue a career in Engineering I.e. if you would like to go to Engineering school, than Math and Physics subject tests could certainly help your admission

  • What are my passions?Like Reading and Writing? Take the Literature Test

  • Have always been interested in Biology and our nature and environment? Take the Biology Subject Test

When deciding which subject tests to take, it is also important to recognize which classes you have taken recently, as this will give you a sense of which subjects are most fresh in your time.

Within these subject tests are are variations. For example, in the Biology exam, there is a specialization or focus from a molecular and ecological standpoint. Same thing with Math. The Math Subject Test offers a Math Level 1 and 2. Language Subject Test offers listening and non-listening options.

The ideal time to take a subject test is at the end of your school year. A popular choice by students is in May or June. Some students find it helpful to schedule a Subject Test close to a final or AP Exam so you're invested in studying that particular subject.

In some universities, SAT Subject Tests are a requirement, so students like to find out which subject tests are the easiest. Generally, students have shown very high averages on Math Level 2 and certain language exams.


With all this information in mind, you should have a clear understanding of what Subject Tests are, how important they are, and have a general understanding of which ones you should look to take. Now it’s your time to best display your knowledge and passion on the exams which you choose!

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