SAT Subject Tests: What Tests Should Be Taken?


When it comes time to determine which SAT Subject Tests high school students should take, it’s always a good idea to confirm which tests are required or recommended by specific colleges. In some cases, universities have strict requirements about the number of Subject SAT Tests that must be taken. Other colleges require specific SAT Subject Tests that must be taken. Still other universities may require SAT Subject Tests, but don’t mandate the specific subjects. Finally, there are also schools that will accept SAT Subject Tests, if they benefit an applicant, irrespective of the subject.

In cases where SAT Subject Tests are accepted or recommended, but students can choose which tests to take, the best course of action is to take the SAT Subject Tests in areas of study in which the student excels. This is particularly helpful if a student is particularly strong in a subject, but no AP or equivalent course is available.

Below are some examples of the specific requirements or recommendations from various colleges and universities.

Schools Which Require Subject SAT Tests

Carnegie Mellon University

The SAT or ACT with writing and 2 SAT Subject Tests are typically required, unless applying to the College of Fine Arts programs.


In addition to the SAT or ACT with writing, Harvard requires 2 SAT Subject Tests.


In addition to the SAT or ACT, applicants to MIT must take one SAT Subject Test in math and one SAT Subject Test in science.

Schools Which Recommend and/or Consider SAT Subject Tests

American University:

American University requires the SAT or the ACT without writing, and recommends that homeschooled students submit 2 SAT Subject Tests.

Boston University:

The SAT or the ACT with writing are required. Students pursuing medical and dental programs are required to take the SAT Subject Tests in Chemistry and Math Level 2. A SAT Subject Test in a foreign language is also suggested.

Case Western Reserve University:

CWRU requires the SAT or ACT with writing and will consider Subject SAT Tests if submitted.

Duke University:

The SAT with essay, or the ACT with writing are required. 2 SAT Subject Tests are also recommended. Students applying to the Pratt School of Engineering should specifically take Math Level 1 or 2 SAT Subject Tests.


Georgetown requires the SAT or the ACT, yet does not require, or even consider the essay from either Test. Instead, Georgetown mandates that all applicants submit all College Board and ACT scores, and strongly recommends applicants take 3 SAT Subject Tests.

Northeastern University:

Northeastern requires the SAT or the ACT, and recommends SAT Subject Tests for homeschooled students.

Northwestern University:

In addition to the ACT or SAT requirement, Northwestern recommends 2 SAT Subject Tests.

Penn State:

SAT or ACT is required, though the writing portion is not required. SAT Subject Tests are recommended. Specifically, for arts, humanities, and social science area of studies, Penn State recommends any two SAT Subject Tests. Those pursuing nursing are advised to take a science subject Test, with Chemistry strongly suggested. Those planning to study science, technology, engineering or math, should take a Math Level 2 SAT Subject Test, along with a science subject Test. Business majors are encouraged to take the Math Level 2 Subject Test.


The SAT with essay, or the ACT with writing are required. In fact, all test scores from all dates need to be submitted for the SAT and ACT. SAT Subject Tests are recommended, but Stanford allows applicants to decide which SAT Subject Test scores (if any) they choose to submit.

University of Michigan:

The SAT with essay or the ACT with writing are required. SAT Subject Tests are considered, if they are helpful to an applicant.

University of North Carolina:

In addition to the SAT or the ACT, UNC Strongly recommends SAT Math Level 1 or 2, as the test is used for freshman year course assignment.

Colleges Which Do Not Require Subject SAT Exams

University of Maryland:

SAT or ACT is required, though the writing portion is not required. Subject SAT Tests are not required.

University of South Carolina:

SAT or ACT is required, but Subject SAT Tests are not required.

From private, one-on-one tutors and small group classes, to comprehensive test prep, and more, Achieve Academics offers the best in college preparedness. Our tutors are equipped with the expertise, experience, and resources necessary to help your child through the process of applying, choosing, and accepting a college admissions offer.

How has the ACT Changed? What Do Parents and Students Need to Know?

In all fifty states and even outside the U.S., the ACT is one of two college admissions test that measures the knowledge acquired during a student’s pre-college academic tenure and may help colleges predict a level of success for potential admitted students. In fact, 2.1 million of 2016’s graduating high school students took the ACT before applying to colleges last year.  The second test is the SAT produced by the College Board.

ACT organization differs from the College Board, in that they prefer gradual changes to their test, rather than a large overhaul at once. Thus, over the last year and a half, they have implemented several format changes and as well as significant report improvements.  All these changes seem positive and align the ACT with the changes in curriculum across the country.  Although the new test has been stated to have the same level of difficulty across the various versions and while the sections of the ACT test remain the same (i.e. Reading, Math, English, Science and Essay) there have been a few changes in the number of passages, questions or the subject matter in some sections. 

Below is a summary of some of those format changes:

In the reading section, there are now "dual passage" type questions similar to those on the SAT.  In the Science Section, there has been a fluctuation in the number of passages from a typical of 7 passages in the past to 6 to 7 depending on the test date. The Math Section, has more probability and statistics questions on the most recent exams.  The Essay Section, has 10 more minutes and it is now 40 minutes instead of 30.  However, the prompt is now longer and the students are now provided with three perspectives on a topic and the ACT expects a more complex development and analysis of these viewpoints. 

Since the September 10, 2016 ACT test, the ACT made a major change in the layout of their reports, designing reports that provide insight into a student’s scores. With that in mind, we compiled a reference list of need-to-know changes that students and parents should be aware of:

·       Paper reports have a new look
Using data visualization, the new ACT’s paper reports offer a dynamic, easy-to-follow breakdown of a student’s scores and performance. The new ACT paper reports are clearer and more engaging to read.

·       The ACT Writing Test Score Range altered
As of September, of this year the ACT report changed their Writing Test scores using a new range: 2 to 12, with 12 being the highest. Making these score ranges consistent with the other ACT’s domains.

·       ACT College Readiness Benchmark Is Displayed
This new benchmark is an insightful tool—especially for students currently preparing to take the test second or third time — allowing a better understanding of how a student’s performance compares to others’ scores, category-by-category, and in relation to his or her peers.  

·       Students can measure STEM performance on the ACT
Unlike the SAT, the ACT offers a science section. Now, paper reports will include the ACT STEM College Readiness Benchmark, providing meaningful context for a student’s STEM score. The ACT STEM College Readiness Benchmark provides a predictive measure of how a student might perform in STEM subjects at the college level.

·       Reports include insight on college major and career matches.
Using details provided during the student registration process, the new ACT reports include a non-cognitive, personalized table using results from the questions asked on the Interest-Major Fit level score and Career Connector. The Interest-Major Fit level score shows students whether their reported interests are well-matched to their desired or intended majors, while the Career Connector summarizes possible career choices based on a student’s interests and test performance.

The ACT’s changes implemented with the September 10, 2016 test results are largely positive for both parents and students, with score reports offering keener, individualized insight into a student’s performance. At Achieve Academics, we stay up-to-date on all developments when it comes to college admissions testing. Through small group classes or one-on-one tutoring, we pass our knowledge and experience on to your child, no matter his or her learning style or overarching academic and collegiate goals. To learn more about updates to the ACT’s reporting approach, or to have your student begin prepping for college entrance exams, contact us today 763-559-8378.  

The Value of Test Prep, Part 2: 3 Steps Toward Stronger Self-Discipline

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Whether prepping for the SAT or ACT, an AP exam, or completing schoolwork, discipline is an acquired skill that not only gives students an academic edge, but ultimately sustains them for a lifetime. Many students might not realize that they already have a command of discipline. For instance, being part of a sports team certainly demands discipline. Most students take seriously their commitment to regular practices, learning plays and strategies, working out in the off-season, game prep, and more. Without discipline, a team can’t rightfully expect a winning season. The same is true in academics.

With that in mind, consider the following ways students can make discipline the centerpiece of their test prep strategy:

1.     Prioritize

Self-discipline has been famously described as “the difference between choosing what you want now and choosing what you want most.” In a similar vein, proper self-discipline requires students to think critically about their agenda, to determine how and when their time is best spent. It may be helpful for students to write out all due dates and deadlines, along with their associated tasks, in order to create a prioritized test prep schedule.

2.     Be Good to Your Body

Disciplining the mind toward test prep is a venture best aided by disciplining the body, too. Studying is optimized by the endorphins released during exercise. Likewise, staying active is a natural stress reliever, which makes it easier for students to enact discipline when the time comes. Nutrition also plays a pivotal role in brain and body preparedness. We’ve all heard of “brain food,” and it’s true that certain food items can boost clarity and recall, such as eggs, dark chocolate, fish, and even caffeine (in moderation).

3.     Create a Routine

Self-discipline is far easier to employ if a student is grounded in a regular test prep routine. In addition to crafting a prioritized study schedule, it’s useful to curate a routine that can be followed repeatedly, so that positive test prep habits are cemented and reinforced over time. What’s more, creating a routine puts students in the driver’s seat, ensuring that their test prep approach is tailored to their learning style, needs, and individual goals.

4.     Take Cues from a Coach

A surefire way to instill self-discipline in students is to enroll them in a small test prep class or pair them with a one-on-one tutor. Guided test prep gives students the tools, resources, and framework to establish their own good habits and routines. With built-in accountability and structure, one-on-one tutoring and small group courses work as incubators for developing self-discipline.

At Achieve Academics, we offer a variety of small group classes and one-on-one tutoring services that not only boost your student’s SAT, ACT, and/or AP performance, but also provide personalized strategies so that students stay engaged and proactive throughout their academic career.