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

MIT and Yale will also not even consider Subject Tests.

I am new to the blog so apologies if this is a silly question. How do you think about the subject tests if you are turning in AP tests in the same subject. For example, if you got a 5 on the AP test in chemistry is there any benefit in taking the SAT subject test in chemistry. If you are turning in say 4+ AP tests, are the SAT subject tests more optional.

This year is different since in almost all cases, subject tests are truly optional IMO. But in a normal year, for 99.999999% of the schools that ask for Subject Tests, that means they want Subject Tests. For the very few (NYU and Georgetown being examples) that allow substitution, they will say so. If the college does not explicitly allow AP in lieu of Subject Tests, assume they will not accept a substitution.

MIT is not considering Subject Tests going forward. This is not a change resulting from COVID.

Just came upon this thread. With Covid vaccines being rolled out globally, do you think elite colleges will revert to their pre-pandemic policies in the coming months and again expect subject tests to be taken by middle/upper middle class students?

It would be great if my D22 could skip it but if she’s expected to take them (as we are not socioeconomically disadvantaged), she’d prefer to do it this academic year rather than in the late-summer/fall.

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An update on this would be helpful for those applying in the next cycle. For example, we could not get a Subject Test date within a reasonable date of conclusion of APUSH and getting a 5 on the AP. We are thinking of doing Math Level II and Bio this summer after Calc AB and AP Bio, and maybe Spanish with listening after Honors conversational Spanish… but are these going to be required for next year? Maybe try to get one or two done ahead? Does it matter which?

I’d love to know but think we decided to focus on SAT’s first, AP’s second then if it’s possible the subject tests. I think Math II will be fairly easy for my kid to do. It’s the courses one has taken a while ago that could get tricky. This Spring my kids is going to start figuring out schools so if there are any which have required subject tests then it will happen. Otherwise, they’ll get dropped. I guess it also depends on scheduling. Even AP’s went haywire last year. Some were done online.

SAT 2 tests are much easier than AP tests.

@gablesdad You need to comb through the college websites themselves, particularly if the student will be applying to a specific program such as engineering or BS/MD.

Before last spring, a little more than a dozen top colleges still recommended subject tests.

Some specific schools will not even consider them any more (MIT, Caltech, Mudd, CMU). Subject tests were falling out of favor as a recommendation/requirement long before COVID test date cancellations led to test optional policies. Test optional policies will be the nail in the coffin, though like anything else, can’t hurt to take them and then submit if the score is good.

One school still recommends 3 subject tests (Georgetown), and requires all scores to be submitted, though Georgetown also accepts AP scores in lieu of subject test scores and I suspect that’s a popular option.

Subject Tests have been cancelled by College Board, making this now a moot point.

There will not be any future U.S. administrations of the Subject Tests. International students will have the opportunity to take Subject Tests in May and June 2021 before the program is sunset altogether.

(Essay has also been discontinued)

Great. Thanks for the update. Less money.

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College Board announcement:

That means that the title of this thread is now obsolete.

However, a generalization of the title, something like:

“Recommended” items for admission should be treated as “required” if doing them is reasonably accessible to you. (But “optional” really is optional.)

may still be applicable.

Subject tests no more!!!

I have good stats and come from a lower middle-class family. I applied to ivies and did not take subject tests. This is very discouraging.


Since you can still take the essay through June, how else would you indicate that you no longer want to take the essay other than logging in and changing it?

US Subject Tests are all cancelled, so they are automatically refunded. International Subject Tests are still offered, so anyone wishing to cancel also has to contact CB to cancel.

Ah, I missed that detail about the essay being available through June. Deleting my previous comment.

Since Subject Tests are no more, closing thread.