Dec 15, 2014

Who needs SAT Subject Tests anyway?

Georgetown "strongly" recommends 2 Subject Tests

College-bound juniors beginning the process of scheduling standardized tests for the next few months may want to cover all bases by investigating the need to take SAT Subject Tests or what used to be labeled SAT II’s by the College Board.

In a nutshell, Subject Tests are hour-long, content-based tests that allow students to “showcase” achievement in specific subject areas.  There are 20 SAT Subject Tests in five different areas:  English, history, languages, mathematics, and science, and you can choose to take up to three tests on any given test date.

Not every college requires Subject Tests, but for those that do, it’s really important to set aside one or more test dates to get the requirement out of the way or at least have some scores to show for colleges that might take them into consideration.

And it’s best not to wait until the fall of senior year, especially if you're considering applying early to any of the colleges on your list.

But if you’re confused about which colleges require or recommend Subject Tests, you may want to check out a wonderful webpage created and maintained by the Compass Educational Group (Compass Prep) of California.

Similar information may also be found on the College Board, Common Application, or Universal College Application websites, but going any of these routes can involve clicking through numerous webpages and may be limited to a specific subset of “member” institutions.

The beauty of the Compass Prep charts is that all schools requiring, recommending or even considering SAT Subject Tests are specifically spelled out, along with direct links to college websites explaining the requirements.

And according to Compass Prep, of the thousands of colleges and universities located across the country, only about 90 specifically address the use SAT Subject Tests in admissions decisions.

For the record, no colleges in the U.S. technically require three. Georgetown strongly “recommends” three, which is about as close to a requirement as you get in admissions-speak.

In addition to Georgetown, other local schools “strongly” recommending Subject Tests include Johns Hopkins, the University of Virginia and Washington and Lee University.  Again, this usually means that to be a strong candidate for admission, you should submit Subject Test scores—especially if you’re applying from highly competitive schools or school districts.

About 25 colleges and universities require two Subject Tests, but a large portion of those will allow students to substitute the ACT with writing for both the SAT and the SAT Subject Tests.  Again, the Compass Prep charts provide the information in an easy-to-understand format.

Beyond the admissions requirement, some colleges like to see Subject Tests for specific programs or majors. And for this year, Harvard has decided to only “normally” require them for applicants—an interesting new twist on the policy.

Compass Prep is quick to warn that no list can “replace the nuances of a school’s specific policy.” Students are directed to school websites or admissions offices for the most accurate (and up-to-date) information. 

And all bets are off for international or homeschooled students.  As Compass points out, “The requirements for both groups can be considerably more rigorous.”  Subject tests are frequently used to show subject matter proficiency, and homeschool students in particular should spend “extra time searching out the testing policies” of all colleges to which they might apply.

No comments:

Post a Comment