Aug 20, 2012

The ACT Solution to the Subject Test Dilemma

Swarthmore College
Luckily, SAT Subject Tests are not part of the application rat race for most colleges and universities. It’s usually only highly "selective" schools that either require or very strongly suggest the submission of two or more Subject Test scores as part of the application.
But just so you know, there are a number of reasons why colleges might like to see Subject Tests. Sometimes they want particular Subject Tests from students interested in specific majors or programs of study.  Or they might be required of students hoping to enroll in accelerated or specific honors programs.  And homeschooled students are often requested to send Subject Tests to confirm what they’ve learned.
It’s definitely something to watch out for as you develop standardized test-taking strategies in high school, and you might want to schedule specific tests as they coincide with Advanced Placement or other advanced coursework.
Yet regardless of good intentions, it’s sometimes hard to squeeze in all the testing in time to meet deadlines, especially if you’re planning to apply Early Decision or Early Action.
If you’re feeling a little panicked about Subject Tests either because you never got around to taking them or because your scores weren’t quite as high as you had hoped they would be, I have some good news.  A number of colleges will allow you to substitute the ACT with Writing for SAT Subject Tests.
Not only does this represent an economical solution to the problem—you only need to pay for one test instead of several—but because the ACT is given in September, you have a chance to prepare over the summer and take a test that is guaranteed to yield results in time for early applications.  In other words, you avoid rushing scores from October (note that some colleges do not accept “rush” scores) or worrying about whether or not the College Board will transmit scores in time to meet deadlines.
So for those of you thinking about the ACT solution to the Subject Test dilemma, here is a list of schools accepting the ACT with Writing in lieu of both SAT and Subject Tests (special thanks to Cigus Vanni who provided the list):
  • Amherst College, MA
  • Barnard College, NY
  • Boston College, MA
  • Brown University, RI
  • Bryn Mawr College, PA (note other testing options)
  • Columbia University, NY
  • Duke University, NC
  • Haverford College, PA
  • McGill University, Canada
  • Pomona College, CA
  • Rice University, TX
  • Swarthmore College, PA (note other testing options)
  • Tufts University, MA
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Vassar College, NY
  • Wellesley College, MA
  • Wesleyan College, CT
  • Yale University, CT

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