• Mr. Jeff Neill

SAT Subject Tests

Updated: Feb 25


This time of year students and parents alike often bring up the question about the SAT Subject Tests. There was a time when these one-hour subject-specific tests were required by most selective institutions in the US; however, that has passed and at this stage, only five US-based institutions require Subject Tests from all applicants, a handful of schools that require Subject Tests for some majors, and maybe 20 schools that recommend Subject Tests for all or some. See the lists below.


The challenge of the situation is to balance the desire for our students NOT to take tests they do not need to with the fear that students will find that they missed the opportunity to sit for a test and consequently cannot apply to certain schools.

First, the challenge in the above balancing act is really one for the US as most places outside the US will allow the SAT Subject Tests to be used in lieu of AP or IB exams. However, students focusing on the US may need to take Subject Tests, particularly if they are interested in STEM fields, especially engineering.


See the lists below…


Requiring Subject Tests from All Applicants:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

University of Puerto Rico Bayamon

University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez

Northwestern University - Integrated Science and Engineering applicants only (but may substitute IB scores)


Requiring Subject Tests (or IB/AP exams) from US applicants:

University of Toronto (Canada)

L’ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne (Switzerland)

King’s College of London (United Kingdom)

McGill University (Canada) - only if the student applies with the SAT (not ACT or IB scores)


Recommending Subject Tests for All Applicants:

Brown University (RI)

Dartmouth College (NH)

Duke University (NC)

Georgetown University (DC)

Harvard University (MA)

Lehigh University (PA)

Princeton University (NJ)

Rice University (TX)

University of Pennsylvania

Webb Institute of Naval Architecture (NY)

Yale University (CT)


Recommending Subject Tests for Some Majors:

Carnegie Mellon University (PA) – engineering, humanities/social science, information systems, science, computer science and business applicants

Catholic University of America (DC) – arts/sciences and philosophy applicants

University of California, Berkeley – chemistry and engineering applicants (“Math 2 and a science exam closely related to the applicant’s intended major”)

University of California, Irvine – engineering (same as Berkeley above); pharmaceutical sciences (“Biology M, Chemistry and/or Math 2”); physical sciences (“Math 2”); public health sciences (“Biology E or M and/or Chemistry”); and public health policy applicants (“Biology E or M and/or World History”)

University of California, Los Angeles – engineering applicants (same as Berkeley above)

University of California, Riverside – engineering and natural/agricultural science applicants (“Math 2 and Chemistry or Physics”)

University of California, San Diego – engineering, biology and physical sciences applicants (same as Berkeley above)

University of California, Santa Barbara – engineering (“Math 2”); math (“Math 2”); biology (“Biology E or M”); physics (“Math 2 and physics”); chemistry and biochemistry (“Chemistry”); and computing (“Math 2”), all within College of Creative Studies

University of the Pacific (CA) – engineering, physical science, life sciences, engineering management, pre-medical, pre-dental and pre-pharmacy applicants


Updated: 25 February 2020

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