Which SAT II Subject Tests to Take
There are three types of SAT II tests: those you must
take, those you should take, and those you shouldn’t take.
- The SAT II tests you must take
are those that are required by the colleges you are interested in.
- The SAT II tests you should take are
tests that aren’t required, but which you’ll do well on, thereby
impressing the colleges looking at your application.
- You shouldn’t take the unrequired SAT
II tests that cover a subject you don’t feel confident about.
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 websites,
or talk to your guidance counselor. Often, colleges require that
you take the following SAT II tests:
- The Writing SAT II test
- One of the two Math SAT II tests (either Math Ic or Math
- Another SAT II in some other subject of your choice
Not all colleges follow these guidelines; you should take
the time to verify what tests you need to take in order to apply
to the colleges that interest you.
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 popular 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.