Reasons to Take the SAT Subject Exams, Even if the School’s You’re Applying for Don’t Require Them

For a lot of students, skipping the SAT subject exams seems like an easy choice. You’re busy, you’re burnt out, and you’re tired of taking standardized tests. Plus, you don’t have to take them, right? So, why bother?

Turns out there are plenty of reasons for you to take the SAT subject exams, even if the majority of the schools you’re applying to don’t require them. Here are our top four!

1. “Recommended” isn’t the same as optional.

If your top school “recommends” that you take two SAT subject exams, you should take two SAT subject exams. It’s really that simple. Ignoring a “recommended” test makes you look like you just didn’t want to bother doing the work… and that’s not exactly the look you’re going for when you’re fighting to get into your dream school.

And if your dream school doesn’t say anything about the subject exams at all? Take them anyway.

Here’s the thing: getting into a top college is hard, and it’s only getting harder. You’re competing against an entire country of students, many of whom have similar grades, backgrounds, and extracurricular activities. You are a one-of-kind academic rock star who would be an asset to any educational institution… but it can be hard to explain that to an admissions committee that’s processing thousands of applications per week.

Getting strong subject test scores gives you an additional opportunity to look awesome. Sure, there are schools that don’t require the SAT subject tests… but there aren’t any schools that are going to penalize your for taking them. You need to take every possible opportunity to distinguish yourself from the pack, and knocking the SAT subject tests out of the park isn’t going to do anything but help your case.

2. The SAT subject exams let you choose your own adventure.

The best part of the SAT subject exams is that you choose how to best showcase your academic skills. Are you terrible at French? No problem, don’t take the French test. The SAT subject exams are your opportunity to show off — there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever to take a test that you’re not going to ace. Take a look at your skill set and pick the test that’s going to exhibit your academic mettle.

Did you grow up in a bilingual household? Can you break down a sonnet in five minutes or less? Did you go to physics camp? Now’s the time to celebrate any special skills that might have been left off your application.

3. You know this stuff already.

You do. We promise. You might just need a little help remembering.

The SAT subject tests cover material that you’ve learned in school, so you’ve already done the hard part. By putting in a little extra time and energy, you can get a great score that’s going to be a big gold star on your already glistening application.

4. They’re short, straightforward, and easy to study for.

Let’s be honest: Taking the SAT proper can be a horrific experience. The test clocks in at close to four hours, the exam is littered with tricks and traps, and there’s so much misinformation floating around that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. The SAT subject tests are, comparatively, a walk in the park. Each test is an hour long, concerns one clearly defined subject, and can be prepped for with ease.

So hit the books, review your notes, and let us know if you need a little boost to get the score you deserve. You’ve got this!

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