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Does a STEM major need a humanities SAT II score?

sciencegirl2024sciencegirl2024 24 replies7 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
I will be a junior in high school during the 2018-19 school year. I am definitely going into a STEM field in the future, most likely engineering. I am really hoping to get into the Ivy League or another Top 20 school.

I am planning to take both the Math II and Chemistry SAT subject tests this year, but I have seen a lot of people in my similar situation who take multiple science SAT subject tests or who take a history or english SAT subject test.

Questions:
Should I take a "humanities" SAT Subject test?
How many SAT Subject tests are good to have in total?
17 replies
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Replies to: Does a STEM major need a humanities SAT II score?

  • bluebayoubluebayou 26594 replies174 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 26,768 Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    If you can score a 7xx, then you should take a Lit/Hume test. It demonstrates mastery of a different discipline and therefore breadth.

    But do you "need" it? Depends on the college. For example, MIT only requires a Math and Physical Science. Princeton recommends the same. Harvey Midd since Math2 and a ST of your choice.

    edited August 2018
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6431 replies21 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,452 Senior Member
    My son is in the other boat - he's a hum/soc kid who wants to show good math ability so he's taking the US history and lit subject tests, but also Math 2.

    I think a lot depends on the school - if subject tests are required, follow the guidelines. If they just want to see one or two but are not specific, default to a math and science unless your verbal SAT/ACT is lower than you'd like and/or you are applying to a liberal arts undergrad program (including UChicago, Harvard, Yale, etc.) and want to demonstrate strong non-STEM skills. Following on the previous poster's suggestion, you might take M2, chem, and a lit or history; then,. send in the two highest scores.

    Finally, if you are interested in engineering specifically, don't discount quality state uni's - most of those don't require subject tests at all.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2280 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,285 Senior Member
    no they do not, the kids taking ush or english comp have just taken the ap classes for them, and will get above a 750, if not 770-800 without studying for them (maybe a practice test to two). If you're taking an ap in a humanities or social science, then consider doing it. Also you don't have to make this decision till later in the year, so see how you're doing in the classes.
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  • skieuropeskieurope 37973 replies6574 discussionsSuper Moderator Posts: 44,547 Super Moderator
    edited August 2018
    If you can score a 7xx, then you should take a Lit/Hume test.
    I disagree, at least with the "should" part. If the OP wants to, fine. But unless the college specifically requires a humanities Subject Test, it's not needed. A college will tell you if it wants something specific; otherwise, there are no lines, at least in this case, to read between.
    It demonstrates mastery of a different discipline and therefore breadth.
    They won't care. They can ascertain if the student has mastery in non-STEM subjects via the transcripts.
    Should I take a "humanities" SAT Subject test?
    See above.
    How many SAT Subject tests are good to have in total?
    The required/recommended number (which for the schools that suggest them, is 2, except for Georgetown which asks for 3) is perfectly fine. I would not submit any more than one extra. While you want to be a competitive applicant, you also want to show that you are more than a test-taking drone.
    edited August 2018
    Post edited by skieurope on
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 32779 replies350 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 33,129 Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    Another view. "But unless the college specifically requires a humanities Subject Test, it's not needed." That's about basic expectations. You will compete with kids who show the breadth BlueBayou notes. Some stem kids will supply two stem S2 scores and a humanities. Many will settle on their best stem and best humanities.

    Yes, they can care about strength in more than your potential major area. We're talking Ivy/top 20. Nothing to do with drones, when you show appropriate balance. This is one of the issues where a student needs to bring his/her savvy.
    edited August 2018
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2280 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,285 Senior Member
    ok but stem majors have to take a math and a science that's a pretty set requirement so they can't settle on a best humanities, I mean they can, but they would not get in.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 32779 replies350 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 33,129 Senior Member
    Not all top colleges require two stem. Not all kids are stem. Princeton, eg. states no preference unless engineering, then you need math 1 or 2 and either puts or chem.
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  • drusbadrusba 9573 replies20 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 9,593 Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    As to whether you should take that third subject test, that is really up to you (I would not) and in deciding you might consider the following. Two colleges, Harvard and Princeton, which recommend two, state that they may consider additonal subject tests but the only highest two will get principal consideration. The colleges that actually require subject tests -- MIT, Caltech, Harvey Mudd, Cornell. and Coopers Union are the only ones left in the US that require subject tests of all or most applicants -- want a math and science for engineering and use the highest two tests if you submit more than two. There are about a dozen colleges (counting the UCs as one) in addition to Princeton and Harvard that recommend two subject tests (generally math and science for engineering) and they consider the highest two if more than two are submitted. Georgetown stands alone in recommending three tests so the literature test may be the third there but it does not have engineering. There are about another 40 colleges (not all of which have engineering) that neither require nor recommend subject tests but will give some consideration to them if submitted.
    edited August 2018
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  • intparentintparent 36291 replies644 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 36,935 Senior Member
    One of my kids was ably to pull off an 800 Math II and an 800 Lit. I do think it impressed colleges, and she had very good admissions results. If you think your talents are suited to achieve high scores on both types of tests, then give it a try. If not, colleges typically do see mostly students who focus their subject tests more on one area than another.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2280 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,285 Senior Member
    "Not all top colleges require two stem. Not all kids are stem. Princeton, eg. states no preference unless engineering, then you need math 1 or 2 and either puts or chem."

    The OP mentioned STEM and possibly engineering, in that case, Math (preferably II) and a Science are going to be required or highly recommended, so you should take them (which OP is planning to do), as fellow applicants will.

    "Should I take a "humanities" SAT Subject test?"

    Again, it would depend on how you're doing in your non-stem classes and whether you think you're mastering the material. That being said, I would avoid foreign languages and consider a history or literature one to take with your math/science.

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  • skieuropeskieurope 37973 replies6574 discussionsSuper Moderator Posts: 44,547 Super Moderator
    edited August 2018
    I would avoid foreign languages
    No reason to avoid if you're not a heritage/native speaker of the language, and if it's your potential best humanities score. Additionally, while one may decide not to submit for admissions, many colleges with foreign language graduation requirements will accept Subject Test scores in lie of their own tests for placement/exemption.

    But again, as the OP is targeting engineering, I'm of the opinion that a humanities test is not needed.
    edited August 2018
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  • tpike12tpike12 490 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 499 Member
    My D signed up for three subjects tests after visiting Georgetown and loving it. Now she decided she wants to focus on engineering so she won't even be applying to Georgetown.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2280 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,285 Senior Member
    "No reason to avoid if you're not a heritage/native speaker of the language, and if it's your potential best humanities score."

    You'll be going up against the native language speakers though, that's why the averages for these subject tests are the highest. With averages of 730-750, the native language speakers are getting the 800s to push up the curve. There are people who got a 5 on the AP in the language, started out taking sophomore level language classes at college and the foreign language subject test was their lowest.
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  • JBStillFlyingJBStillFlying 6431 replies21 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,452 Senior Member
    ^^ Wouldn't colleges understand that someone is up against native speakers? Kind of like being a non-STEM kid and taking Math 2 and getting something over 700 (but a very low %'ile given who takes that test). Why wouldn't the adcom look at your score in the context of your background and prospective major?

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  • skieuropeskieurope 37973 replies6574 discussionsSuper Moderator Posts: 44,547 Super Moderator
    You'll be going up against the native language speakers though
    I'm well aware of that (as is every AO), hence my qualifier "if it's your potential best humanities score." A 760 in Chinese is better than a 720 in Literature, as an example. Nobody will be comparing percentiles.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2280 replies5 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,285 Senior Member
    edited August 2018
    A 760 in Chinese is not better than a 720 in Literature, and they do look at percentiles.

    Chinese- average is 760, and a 760 is 25%, why would an adcom, if they're familiar with f/l scores be impressed with this?

    Literature - average is 612, a 720 is 81%, much more impressive.

    Now if you're saying that adcoms look at an average score vs. one that's 100 pts above the average as equal or even prefer the average score, that's another argument, and would show a serious of lack of math and basic stats knowledge of adcoms.
    edited August 2018
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  • skieuropeskieurope 37973 replies6574 discussionsSuper Moderator Posts: 44,547 Super Moderator
    A 760 in Chinese is not better than a 720 in Literature, and they do look at percentiles.
    We'll just have to agree to disagree, since I disagree with that entire sentence.
    Chinese- average is 760, and a 760 is 25%, why would an adcom, if they're familiar with f/l scores be impressed with this?
    The number is skewed by heritage speakers, as every AO knows. For the non-heritage speaker, the mean is closer to 680, and even that number is skewed by the small number of students who take the test. For the rest, you cannot compare apples and oranges. Since so few colleges require Subject Tests, those kids that end up taking them are a very self-selecting group, which is why the percentiles are so wacky. Trying to infer some statistical difference between literature, with 50K tests/year and Chinese with 700 non-heritage speakers per year is folly. But if you want to believe that in the 10 minutes an AO spends on an applicant's entire package that s/he is sitting cross-referencing percentile charts, feel free.
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