Blog postings

Below are some thoughts on topics that students and parents often ask. Before making a decision you should consult various resources (teachers, tutors, guidance counselors, college counselors, college admissions offices, etc.) as appropriate. The topics and my opinions about them are generic, and may not apply very well to your specific situation.

SAT Subject Tests can strengthen your applications

On its web site, every college provides a list of credentials that applicants must supply in order to be considered for admission.  Many students and parents overlook a credential that is not required but can strengthen applications:  SAT Subject Tests.

Over time, fewer and fewer colleges have listed subject tests as required.  A colleague of mine counted just five colleges, but the number is always changing.  Other colleges list subject tests as “recommended” whereas most do not mention them at all.  Although subject tests are rarely required, make sure to check the web sites of the colleges that interest you to be certain.

Even the College Board (who write the SAT, subject tests, and AP tests) have been uncertain about the future of subject tests as fewer colleges require them.  On their web site they publish a long list of schools that “use” subject tests (see that list here). Although it is not clear what is meant by “use” them, I cannot imagine a college admissions office, especially an admissions office at a high end college, that would ignore them if submitted by an applicant. 

As long as subject tests continue to be offered, applicants should use them to their advantage.  In particular, colleges find the math subject tests to be helpful for certain majors (mostly STEM and business).  Subject tests are generally offered whenever the SAT is offered, except March.  The schedule can be found here. Students cannot take the SAT and a subject test on the same date.

The credentials listed on the college web site are the minimum set that students must supply.  What if you won a poetry contest in school, would you submit that credential?  What if you were chosen as captain of a sports team, would you submit that credential?  What if you are a soloist in your church choir, would you submit that credential?  Lastly, what if you had very good scores on one or more subject tests, would you submit them?  The answers are YES, YES, YES and YES!

Now that you understand how subject tests can be used to enhance your application, you may not be surprised to hear that the more competitive colleges often receive them.  That is because the quality of the applicants is higher than average and those applicants are more likely to have higher than average subject test scores to submit.  If you do not have high subject test scores you will not submit that particular credential, but you can submit other credentials that other applicants may not have, like winning the poetry contest.

Richard Corn