How to Decide Which SAT Subject Tests to Take?


When deciding which SAT Subject Test to take, the Princeton Review recommends you start by asking yourself this one question: “Which classes am I acing?”

While various colleges and programs have different requirements for which Subject Tests you should take, some colleges recommend taking the Subject Test without specifying their preference. In that case, give yourself one less thing to stress about and sign up for a Subject Test that you actually enjoy. Regardless of what you want to study. 

Below you’ll find a list of some of the top colleges that require SAT Subject Tests, along with advice for which tests to take based on the major you’re planning on pursuing. 


Every college and every program is different. Before you decide whether or not to take a Subject Test, be sure to double check with the schools and programs you are looking at. As an example, here are a few colleges that require or recommend taking a Subject Test: 

Boston University 

Some programs at BU require SAT Subject Tests. If you’re applying to the Liberal Arts/Medical Education program, for example, you’re required to take SAT Subject tests in Chemistry and Math 2. It’s also recommended that you take a foreign language SAT test for this program as well.  

California Institute of Technology (CalTech)

CalTech requires Mathematics Level 2 and one SAT science subject test out of the following: biology (ecological), biology (molecular), chemistry, or physics

Duke University 

Duke University recommends taking two subject tests. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 

MIT requires applicants to take one subject test in Math category and one science subject test

McGill University 

McGill University requires at least two SAT Subject tests, see full requirements here.

See full list at Compass Prep



SAT Subject Tests are best taken shortly after their corresponding course. If you’re taking AP Biology your sophomore year, you might consider taking the SAT Biology Subject Test later in your sophomore year or early junior year. 

In addition to checking a college’s requirements before deciding to take the SAT Subject Test, you’ll want to find out if the college prefers one Math test over the other (Math 1 vs. Math 2).

According to CollegeVine, if you want to study engineering, “You’ll probably want to take Physics, since most degree programs require several classes from higher-level Physics.” Meanwhile, if you’re interested in studying medicine or another health-related field, the SAT Subject Test might be the right fit for you. 

Because many STEM majors are interdisciplinary in nature, combining a variety of scientific fields to understand and solve problems, you might consider taking more than one SAT Subject Test in the science category. 



Do you have a favorite subject? There are a lot of SAT Subject Tests that would be considered relevant for Liberal Arts Majors. From History to English, Spanish to French, you can’t go wrong. As long as you choose a subject that you are interested in, or one of your stronger subjects, you’re on the right path.   

Even taking a Math or Science SAT Subject Test will support your application. Doing something out of the humanities or liberal arts box will tell a story to admissions about your strengths and variety of interests. 

Check with the individual program you’re interested in. Sometimes in order to be accepted for a certain major, you’ll need to take a specific subject test. 


Taking the SAT Subject Test adds just one more element to the many pieces in your application, helping supplement your essays, other test scores, and academic transcript.

“Let the classes you love be your guide when choosing Subject Tests.” - Princeton Review