Are your sights set on the Ivy League or other top universities? As you're well aware, these schools are the most selective in the country. Because of this, you want to carefully craft every aspect of your application so it's as strong as it can possibly be.
Let's look at one important part of your application: your SAT Subject Test scores. In this article, we'll go over the Subject Test requirements and expectations of top schools, and offer some advice on how to balance these tests with everything else you've got going on in your busy life.
UPDATE: SAT Subject Tests No Longer Offered
In January 2021, the College Board announced that, effective immediately, no further SAT Subject Tests will be offered in the United States. SAT Subject Tests ended internationally in June 2021. It is now no longer possible to take SAT Subject Tests.
As a result, no colleges, including those in the Ivy League, require Subject Tests, but many schools will still consider Subject Test scores if you submit them.
Many students were understandably confused about why this announcement happened midyear and what this means for college applications going forward. Read more about the details of what the end of SAT Subject Tests means for you and your college apps here.
SAT Subject Test Requirements at Top Schools
Let's take a look at the eight Ivy League schools—Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, UPenn, and Yale—along with some other top schools, such as Duke, Georgetown, MIT, Stanford, and the University of Chicago.
As you'll see in the chart, no Ivy League schools still require, or even recommend, Subject Tests. However, their policies do differ in regards to if and how they review Subject Test scores if you decide to submit them.
|School||# of Subject Tests Recommended||Notes From School|
|Brown||None||"Beginning with the class of 2025, Brown will no longer recommend the submission of SAT Subject Tests. If submitted, Subject Tests will be considered as part of your application. Students who have not taken the Subject Tests will be at no disadvantage in Brown's admission process."|
|Columbia||None||"SAT Subject Test and other proficiency exam scores are not required by Columbia, but we will accept your results if you choose to submit them ... You will not be at a disadvantage should you choose not to take these optional tests or submit the scores to Columbia."|
|"SAT Subject Tests (to be discontinued in 2021) are not required or expected for admission to Cornell University."|
|Dartmouth||None||"SAT Subject Tests are an optional part of our review process. Not submitting scores will not prevent your candidacy from receiving a full review by the Admissions Committee. If you submit subject test scores, we will include them in our review of your application."|
|Duke||None||"We do not require SAT Subject Tests."|
|Georgetown||None||"Georgetown does not participate in Score Choice, so any Subject Test scores for exams already taken will be part of the complete testing record submitted from the College Board."|
"If you choose to submit Subject Tests (although they are no longer a requirement), it is more useful to choose only one mathematics test rather than two. Similarly, if your first language is not English, a Subject Test in your first language may be less helpful. You should submit scores from tests taken in the past three years."
|MIT||None||"MIT has made the decision to no longer consider the SAT Subject Tests as part of the admissions process."|
|Princeton||None||"As with previous years, we do not require the submission of SAT Subject Tests. If you chose to sit for a Subject Test (prior to January 2021) and wish to submit the score, you may do so."|
|Stanford||None||"If you took a subject test prior to this time, you are welcome to self-report your results in your application."|
|University of Chicago||None||"Subject Tests scores are entirely optional, and not sending us Subject Test scores will not hurt your application."|
|University of Pennsylvania||None||"Applicants who do not submit standardized test scores will not be at a disadvantage in the admissions process."|
|Yale||None||"SAT Subject Tests have been discontinued. Results from these exams will not be considered for any first-year or transfer applicants."|
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What's a Good SAT Subject Test Score for the Ivy League?
As we mentioned, no Ivy League school requires SAT Subject Test scores. However, if you've already taken Subject Tests and are considering submitting your scores as an optional part of your application, how do you know if they're strong enough? Selective schools don't usually publicize cutoffs for test scores; instead, they insist that they take a holistic approach to applications and consider all parts within the context of the greater whole.
However, as you know, there are many more qualified candidates than there are spaces at these schools. With this in mind, you want your application to be exceptional and stand out as especially strong and unique—which is why getting a high SAT Subject Test score is so important.
But just how high should you be aiming? This mainly depends on the school you're applying to. For example, MIT has said that its admitted students score between 720 and 800 on science Subject Tests, whereas admitted applicants to Princeton generally score 710-790 on Subject Tests.
Selective institutions expect to see scores in the 700s, usually in the upper half of the 700s. For a further breakdown of how scores translate to percentiles, read our article about good Subject Test scores. With this data, you can aim to be in 80th or 90th percentile of test takers in the tests you've chosen.
If you're planning to major in math or science, an 800 on your math and science Subject Tests would be really helpful for your application.
What are the average scores for all SAT Subject Tests? Take a look at this data here, and learn why it's important to know this as you choose your Subject Tests.
Are you aiming for perfection on the SAT? Read our expert guide on the key strategies and tips you need to score a perfect 1600.
If you're taking the ACT, this article by a full scorer explains how you can achieve the elusive 36.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
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Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.