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Parent’s are always asking me if their teen should take the subject tests. Guess what? There is no simple answer as there are many variables to consider. Colleges who require them not only use them for admission but for course placement. These tests tend to give a better picture of academic achievement, and thus can compare students using a similar standard regardless of where they are from or what high school they attended.

There are 16 area subject tests ranging from Literature to physics. These subject tests also include 9 different foreign languages from Korean to Hebrew.

Bottom line: Don’t take a subject test unless you excel in the subject and/or are taking the AP class. For the languages, a minimum of 4 years is recommended, as you will often be competing against bi-lingual students.

It is best to take the subject test in June when you have just finished the year’s course work and have recently taken the AP exam. Find out if a school you are interested in requires the subject tests. Also make sure you hone in on individual majors or programs which may (whereas the university may not). Often some science and special programs, i.e.,  BS/MD, engineering will require them regardless of the overall university requirements for admission.

No college will require more than two subject tests; however, the more competitive schools will definitely look more closely at a student who reports more than 2 scores. The best source to find out the subject test requirements is to go the university website.

There are over a dozen very excellent schools that will accept the ACT in lieu of the SAT and Subject Tests:

  • Amherst College
  • Barnard College
  • Brown University
  • Columbia University
  • Duke University
  • Haverford University
  • Pomona College
  • Rice University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Tufts University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Vassar College
  • Wellesley College
  • Yale University

Here is a list of schools that require two Subject Tests:

  • Amherst College
  • Barnard College
  • Brown University
  • California Institute of Technology
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Dartmouth College
  • Duke University
  • Harvey Mudd College
  • Haverford College
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Pomona College
  • Princeton University
  • Rice University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Tufts University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Vassar College
  • Webb Institute
  • Wellesley College
  • Williams College
  • Yale University

There are many colleges who ‘strongly recommend’ the student take the Subject Tests. Though it’s not a requirement, students should realize that in order to be considered a strong candidate for potential admission, it would be wise to take them as recommended – (the number and content area).

  • Carlton College
  • Catholic University
  • Clarkson University
  • Davidson College (recommends 2)
  • Emory University
  • George Washington University
  • Georgetown University (recommends 3)
  • Grinnell College
  • Hampden-Sydney College
  • Harvard University (recommends 2)
  • Hollins University
  • Johns Hopkins University (recommends 2)
  • Lafayette College
  • Lehigh University
  • Northwestern University
  • Olin College of Engineering
  • Skidmore College
  • Stanford University
  • University of Delaware (recommends 2)
  • University of Georgia
  • University of the Pacific
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Virginia (recommends 2)
  • Washington and Lee University (recommends 2)
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute

As evident by the above information, it’s best to make the decision about whether or not to take the Subject Test by zeroing in on specific school requirements as it’s certainly not a one-size-fits all approach.

Don’t forget that Breakthrough Test Prep offers Subject Test prep for the Literature and the Math I and II C exams. Typically students require 2-4 sessions. Call 301.299.4380 for more information.

 

(This post is from a recent Huffington Post blog by, Marjorie Hanson Shaevitz. http://huff.to/1HuGyn5.)

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