Actually no, that's not what I meant; I meant the other qualities that matter: character, circumstances, essays, recommendations, how they serve, and so forth.

My students that apply to MIT all have strong STEM involvement, but in this recent app cycle, it was actually my student who lacked a lot of advanced work and STEM-related activities that was selected over two others who had many more STEM achievements...but I can easily guess why this student got in, and I know this student will do an amazing job at MIT.

I understand that “recommended” can mean required for certain students. What about “not required”? The Cornell requirements page specifies the required testing for each undergrad college. Sometimes SAT2s are “required” and sometimes “not required”. So does that seem like a student can really skip them?
Thanks!

I am guessing that if you take a subject test and don't do well, it will reflect upon you. If you got an A in the related class, but did poorly on the subject test, I would guess that the A was not equivalent to an A at a more rigorous school. I don't have data to back that up, but I do believe test scores matter.

What if the student has taken college calculus classes? Is it still necessary to show colleges a score in math 2 when the student would have forgotten most of that early math?

A student who has done well in calculus should know the precalculus stuff well

But not always automatically. Mine sort of skimmed through Algebra II and Geometry, while almost skipping probability. She did fine in her Trig and Calculus classes, but neither in SAT Math nor Math II, until this Summer when she took a Stat course and put a big effort in reviewing a Sat Math II prep book. This was part of my long term education plan. I focused most of her early math learning on deductive reasoning, and thought all standard math subjects will catch up as they are needed.

I understand that “recommended” can mean required for certain students. What about “not required”?

Now, I think comparing recommended and considered, or wording of "not disadvantage" are all silly in competitive college admission. If SAT Subject tests are only considered and you are not disadvantaged for not taking them, but your otherwise similar peers took them and are advantaged because it was "considered," then you will have a less chance to get accepted as a result of not doing all you could. It doesn't matter how they are called. It is a zero sum game. If someone is advantaged and you are not, then you are disadvantaged.

I believe that it is better to prep for an above average SAT General score and one Subject test than study for three tests receiving an average score.

You can prep for SAT Math & Math II together, while working on SAT Reading & Literature together, and you got two SAT Subject tests covered. And you can take a science SAT Subject test right after taking an AP Science test, or just completing a science course's final for that subject.

What if the student has taken college calculus classes? Is it still necessary to show colleges a score in math 2 when the student would have forgotten most of that early math?

Many kids today are taking the math level 2 test early for just this reason. I haven't seen statistics, but I know a number of kids who have taken math level 2 in elementary school, including my own.

since doing calculus means practicing the precalculus stuff.

Maybe yes, maybe no. It really depends on the kid and the precalculus class she took. A familiarity with basic functions and trigonometrics especially will of course be very useful for calculus, but some typical precalculus topics like matrices, conics, combinatorics and probability, complex numbers, and even vectors are either not encountered in most beginning single variable calculus classes or will have been treated so cursorily in precalc as to be useless.

The takeaway imo is that kids should take the math level 2 subject test as soon as possible after studying precalc; they shouldn't rely on the idea that AP Calc will have kept their aptitude for most of the precalc topics likely to be encountered on the subject test.

The takeaway imo is that kids should take the math level 2 subject test as soon as possible after studying precalc;

Agreed, There is nothing that says Subject Tests should not be taken earlier than junior year.

I know a number of kids who have taken math level 2 in elementary school, including my own

As did I, and none of my colleges had an issue with Subject Tests taken in 8th grade.

The other takeaway IMO is that there are few examples of "in lieu of;" if a college wants a Subject Test and does not offer an in lieu of, then is wants a Subject Test, not an A in Multivariable Calculus (which is still great, but not what they asked for.

it's safe to assume that most AO's know that the percentile for an 800 in Chinese is low, even if they don't remember the exact percentile

Yes, but... a huge percentage of those taking the Korean or Chinese test get an 800 because the majority of students taking those tests are native speakers or heritage speakers. The tests are not designed for native speakers, though; they are designed for non-natives who study the language in the US at high school. The CB actually breaks out separate scoring percentiles for natives vs non-natives.

For the non-native cohort (which probably includes a non-trivial percentage of natives and heritage speakers tbh), the percentiles are of course very different. Whether this distinction is appreciated by AOs is another matter. I tend to think that at the schools that care about STs, the AOs will have some appreciation for the student’s language background.

If you were able to actually look at non-natives who just studied the language at a US high school, I would wager that the percentage of 800 scores is among the lowest of all Subject Tests.

" We require either the SAT Reasoning test or the ACT. If you have done exceptionally well on a particular subject test and would like to show us, feel free to send us that score. However, SAT II’s are truly optional, and not sending us Subject Tests will not hurt your application."

I know someone who was admitted to UChicago with 800s in Math II and Eng Lit. I would guess that those scores (at least the English) *helped* this student. If submitting scores can help somebody’s application, then what does it mean if you say that not submitting scores will not hurt your application? I feel that these admissions offices are always speaking through their legal counsel: We won’t *subtract* points from your app if you don’t submit ST’s—that’s as far as they say. They neglect the qualification: but that doesn’t mean we won’t add points to somebody else’s app if they submit ST’s.

If you were able to actually look at non-natives who just studied the language at a US high school, I would wager that the percentage of 800 scores is among the lowest of all Subject Tests.

If you excluded Chinese and Korean, the percentiles for an 800 for non-heritage speakers is in the mid -to high 90's, so roughly on par with all other subjects except M2, chem, and physics. An 800 for non-heritage speakers in Chinese and Korean is in the high 80's, but Korean is statistically meaningless to use for comparison due to the low number of non-heritage test takers (70) and Chinese is not much better with 700 non-heritage test takers.

That said, I'm of the opinion that while AOs are aware of the percentiles directionally, they are not cross-referencing percentile charts.

Look, if you want a college that values critical thinking, you can't sleepwalk through any of this. You do need to discern what is absolute and what's "adcom speak."

Very few kids need strength in their family language for their proposed majors. And if you're a heritage speaker, they can wonder why you chose to submit that S2 test, especially if you haven't also shown scores in the usual humanities and math/sci. (The exception being schools that ask for specific tests.) It can look like you took an easy way out. You don't want adcoms stopping to wonder why? Or just how seriously you thought all this through.

Same goes for LoRs. Make them relevant. Make your whole app relevant. You are not qualified to second guess them, so don't assume.

Kids can easily figure their standing in theor own high schools. It's much more difficult to understand how much competition you face for a tippy top ot top college. Be wise.

If you’re upper middle to wealthy you’ll be expected to take them. For Ucla Engineering it’s listed as highly reccomended but it’s basically required. We just can’t list it as required due to state laws. I can’t think of any case where a freshman Engineering admit got in without it. Many of the majors have single digit admit rates and the engineering school is almost at a single digit rate

After previewing Physics test, dd regretted not taking it right after AP Physics 1, even though it covers only half the areas and she never took a lower level physics class that covers the rest. Knowledge from AP Physics 1 could have been enough to get a decent score due to overlapping areas and high curve of the test.

You are right of course. She scored a practice exam to preview it. Since she isn't taking Physics 2 or Physics C Electricity and Magnetism next year, she would never be in a better position than she was 3 months ago.

## Replies to: SAT subject tests are NOT truly optional for middle/upper middle class applicants at elite colleges!

5,266Senior MemberMy students that apply to MIT all have strong STEM involvement, but in this recent app cycle, it was actually my student who lacked a lot of advanced work and STEM-related activities that was selected over two others who had many more STEM achievements...but I can easily guess why this student got in, and I know this student will do an amazing job at MIT.

344MemberThanks!

3,674Senior Member461Member77,211Senior Member2,331Senior MemberBut not always automatically. Mine sort of skimmed through Algebra II and Geometry, while almost skipping probability. She did fine in her Trig and Calculus classes, but neither in SAT Math nor Math II, until this Summer when she took a Stat course and put a big effort in reviewing a Sat Math II prep book. This was part of my long term education plan. I focused most of her early math learning on deductive reasoning, and thought all standard math subjects will catch up as they are needed.

Now, I think comparing recommended and considered, or wording of "not disadvantage" are all silly in competitive college admission. If SAT Subject tests are only considered and you are not disadvantaged for not taking them, but your otherwise similar peers took them and are advantaged because it was "considered," then you will have a less chance to get accepted as a result of not doing all you could. It doesn't matter how they are called. It is a zero sum game. If someone is advantaged and you are not, then you are disadvantaged.

You can prep for SAT Math & Math II together, while working on SAT Reading & Literature together, and you got two SAT Subject tests covered. And you can take a science SAT Subject test right after taking an AP Science test, or just completing a science course's final for that subject.

1,385Senior MemberMaybe yes, maybe no. It really depends on the kid and the precalculus class she took. A familiarity with basic functions and trigonometrics especially will of course be very useful for calculus, but some typical precalculus topics like matrices, conics, combinatorics and probability, complex numbers, and even vectors are either not encountered in most beginning single variable calculus classes or will have been treated so cursorily in precalc as to be useless.

The takeaway imo is that kids should take the math level 2 subject test as soon as possible after studying precalc; they shouldn't rely on the idea that AP Calc will have kept their aptitude for most of the precalc topics likely to be encountered on the subject test.

44,494Super ModeratorThe other takeaway IMO is that there are few examples of "in lieu of;" if a college wants a Subject Test and does not offer an in lieu of, then is wants a Subject Test, not an A in Multivariable Calculus (which is still great, but not what they asked for.

134Junior MemberFor the non-native cohort (which probably includes a non-trivial percentage of natives and heritage speakers tbh), the percentiles are of course very different. Whether this distinction is appreciated by AOs is another matter. I tend to think that at the schools that care about STs, the AOs will have some appreciation for the student’s language background.

If you were able to actually look at non-natives who just studied the language at a US high school, I would wager that the percentage of 800 scores is among the lowest of all Subject Tests.

134Junior MemberWe won’t *subtract* points from your app if you don’t submit ST’s—that’s as far as they say. They neglect the qualification:but that doesn’t mean we won’t add points to somebody else’s app if they submit ST’s.231Junior Member44,494Super ModeratorThat said, I'm of the opinion that while AOs are aware of the percentiles directionally, they are not cross-referencing percentile charts.

33,063Senior MemberVery few kids need strength in their family language for their proposed majors. And if you're a heritage speaker, they can wonder why you chose to submit that S2 test, especially if you haven't also shown scores in the usual humanities and math/sci. (The exception being schools that ask for specific tests.) It can look like you took an easy way out. You don't want adcoms stopping to wonder

why?Or just how seriously you thought all this through.Same goes for LoRs. Make them relevant. Make your whole app relevant. You are not qualified to second guess them, so don't assume.

Kids can easily figure their standing in theor own high schools. It's much more difficult to understand how much competition you face for a tippy top ot top college. Be wise.

2,203Forum Champion5New Member2,331Senior Member44,494Super Moderator2,331Senior Member28Junior Member