Which SAT II Subject Tests to Take
There are three types of SAT II test: those you must take,
those you should take, and those you shouldn’t take.
- The SAT II tests you must take
are those required by the colleges you are interested in.
- The SAT II tests you should take are
tests that aren’t required, but that you’ll do well on, thereby
impressing the colleges looking at your application.
- The SAT II tests you shouldn’t take are
those that aren’t required and cover a subject you don’t feel confident
Determining Which SAT II Tests Are Required
You’ll need to do a bit of research to find out if the
colleges you’re applying to require that you take a particular SAT
II test. Call the schools you’re interested in, look at their web sites,
or talk to your guidance counselor. Often, colleges require that
you take the following SAT II tests:
- The SAT II Writing test
- One of the two SAT II Math tests (either Math IC or Math
- Another SAT II in a subject of your choice
The SAT II Biology is not usually required by colleges.
But taking it and doing well can show a liberal arts college that
you are well-rounded or a science-oriented college that you are
serious about science. In general, it is a good idea to take one
science-based SAT II, such as Biology, Chemistry, or Physics.
Deciding If You Should Take an SAT II That Isn’t
There are two rules of thumb for deciding which additional
test to take beyond the Writing and Math tests:
Go with what you know. If history is
your field, a strong score on the American History test will impress
admissions officers far more than a bold but mediocre effort on
the Physics test.
to show breadth. Scoring well on similar subject tests such
as Math, Biology, and Chemistry will not be as impressive as good
scores in more diverse subjects, such as Math, Writing, World History,
Of course, you also have to know what is considered a
good score and whether or not you can get that score (or higher).
Below we have included a list of the most commonly taken
SAT II tests and the average scaled score on each. If you feel confident
that you can get a score that is above the average (50 points or
more), taking the test will probably strengthen your college application. Please
note that if you are planning to attend an elite school, you might
have to score significantly higher than the national average. The
following table is just a general guideline. It’s a good idea to
call the schools that interest you or talk to a guidance counselor
to get a more precise idea of what score you should be shooting
As you decide which test to take, be realistic with yourself.
Don’t just assume you’re going to do great without at least taking
a practice test and seeing where you stand.