Testing: The benefits of taking SAT Subject Tests

 SAT Subject Tests

College admissions officers want to get as clear a picture of each candidate as possible. An SAT Subject Test (formerly called an SAT 2) score can be helpful to colleges in seeing the complete picture of your academic background and interests, and a good addition to the set of data that brings you into focus.

If you’re interested in particular programs of study, taking the Subject Tests in those areas may help show colleges that you’re ready for certain majors or courses.

Subject Tests test you on your knowledge of subjects on a high school level. The best way to prepare is to take the relevant courses and work hard in them.

Because these are tests of your knowledge, many students find them less confounding than the regular SAT. Even students who find misery with the regular SATs will be happily surprised at the straight-forward nature of the Subject Tests.

Furthermore, some “test-flexible” schools will accept the SAT Subject test scores in place of the regular SATs.

The SAT Subject Tests that you take should be based on your interests and academic strengths. If you are a strong history student, for instance, you may want to take the U.S. History or the World History Subject Test soon after you complete an honors or AP class in one of those topics, while the material is still fresh in your mind. If you have a college engineering program in mind, take at least one math and one science SAT Subject Test.

Click here for 2019-20 SAT Test, including Subject Tests, Dates and Deadlines.

Good News: Colleges Say They Are Looking for You, Kind People

During college visits over the past few months, we've heard admissions officers say it again and again: colleges are looking for students who are kind.

“Too often, today’s culture sends young people messages that emphasize personal success rather than concern for others and the common good,” said Richard Weissbourd, Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Co-director of the Making Caring Common (MCC) project. “As a rite of passage, college admissions plays a powerful role in shaping student attitudes and behaviors. Admissions deans are stepping up collectively to underscore the importance of meaningful engagement in communities and greater equity for economically diverse students.”

Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern For Others And The Common Good Through College Admissions, is a report arising out of the MCC project and contains “concrete recommendations to reshape the college admissions process and promote greater ethical engagement among aspiring students, reduce excessive achievement pressure, and level the playing field for economically disadvantaged students,“ says Weissbourd, who wrote the report in collaboration with Lloyd Acker, Executive Director of the Education Conservancy.     

The Making Caring Common project’s mission is to help educators, parents, and communities raise children who are caring, responsible to their communities, and committed to justice. According to MCC’s press release, The goals of the report are to harness the collective influence of college admissions to send a unified message that both ethical engagement and intellectual engagement are highly important and to more fairly capture the strengths of students across race, class and culture.”        

According to Stuart Schmill, Dean of Admissions, Interim Executive Director of Student Financial Services, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an endorser of Turning the Tide, “This report communicates our expectations much more clearly to applicants. We don’t want students who do things just because they think they have to in order to get into college. To the contrary: we want students who lead balanced lives, who pursue their interests with energy and enthusiasm, and who work cooperatively with others, all of which will help them be successful in and after college.”

The University of Virginia’s Dean of Admissions Gregory Roberts says UVA is also in agreement with the report. “We support Turning the Tide because we philosophically agree with many of the principal points in the document” says Roberts, such as “promoting, encouraging, and developing good citizenship, strong character, personal responsibility, [and] civic engagement in high school students.”        


College Admissions Advice: "Relax"

Wise words from Dean Deb Shaver, Smith College:

“When I talk to prospective students and parents, I often quote Frank Sachs, former president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling: ‘College is a match to be made, not a prize to be won.’ The ideal pairs a student with the school that best fulfills that student’s academic, social and aspirational needs.

The best fit is where a student will thrive and be happy.”

Read Smith College’s Dean of Admission’s entire letter here.