Taking SAT II tests waste of time?

I am a rising senior and I have yet to take any SAT II tests. I am not applying to a STEM major, it will either be Political Science or Business. However, I am applying to rather selective schools (UCB, UCLA, NYU, BU, Northeastern, UVA).

I still have to retake my SAT because my score is not high enough. With college apps and 5 APs, I don’t know if taking the SAT II is worth it. Do you think it is worth the time to take a subject test or two, or do you think I shouldn’t bother with it? Should I try to take math II or something? What do you guys think?

Check the schools application policies on the common data set (collegeboard.org, for ex). It will say if each school requires or recomends the tests. If they recomend, take them.

If UCB is Berkley, yes they want the subject tests.

None of the schools you mention requires Subject Tests. You should consider them as something that can improve your application if 1) you can do well (700 or better) on them and 2) they won’t get in the way of the rest of your testing and application plans. The UC’s do recommend Subject Tests, but #1 and #2 still apply. They are generally more important for STEM majors. You can find policies and links at http://www.compassprep.com/subject-test-requirements-and-recommendations/.

UCs now range from recommending them for certain applicants to not recommending them at all. UCB and UCLA recommend a math and science for STEM applicants but does not recommend subject tests for others, see http://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/freshman/requirements/examination-requirement/SAT-subject-tests/. For NYU, you would need three SAT subject tests to have any reason to submit them – it gives you the choice of submitting any one of the following: (a) SAT, (b) ACT c) three SAT’s, or (d) three AP’s, see https://www.nyu.edu/admissions/undergraduate-admissions/how-to-apply/all-freshmen-applicants/standardized-tests.html. If you submit a high enough SAT, you won’t need the three subject tests as an alternative.

BU, starting about 5 years ago, went from requiring subject tests to recommending them, to not recommending them but will consider them if submitted, to now no longer even stating it considers them if submitted. The exception is that subject tests are required for its special medical and dental combined undergrad and then grad programs that exceptional students can possbily get into.

UVa, starting this application season, has stopped recommending subject tests and now just states they are “optional,” meanig it will give some consideration to them if submitted. Northeastern neither recommends nor considers them.

It would thus appear that it is not necessary for you to take subject tests, and if the choice is between taking the tests or improving your SAT, the latter is preferred because you should not assume good subject tests scores will make up for a weak SAT.

If you have AP scores that can represent the same subject as an SAT II then that’s fine. The key is the school policy. If they require it then obviously you have to take them but the gray area is when they are recommended. For STEM majors I would say it’s more important to take them because a strong background in the field is important. For humanity majors as long as you have strong critical thinking and analysis you can get by. Specific subject knowledge is less important. If a school says it would count against you if you don’t submit them then I would make sure they are high scores if you do submit them. But in the end high SAT/ACT will always be better than low scores with subject tests.