Colleges no longer require 3 SAT Subject Tests

College Admissions | SAT Prep

describe the imageGreat news for all you college hopefuls! No longer will you have to worry about taking three SAT Subject TestsNow only two will do, even for the most competitive U.S. colleges.

According to an article in Inside Higher Ed, things are changing:

For years, applicants to the most competitive colleges in the United States had to submit three scores on SAT Subject Tests (once known as "achievement tests" and sometimes called SAT II) in addition to the better-known main SAT, with its verbal, mathematics and (more recently) writing sections. But the last two colleges that required three -- Harvard and Georgetown Universities -- are this year changing their policies.

Harvard University's undergraduate admissions page already shows only two SAT Subject Tests required for admission, while Georgetown's still recommends three (but doesn't require three). The National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) recently did a survey of U.S. and Canadian universities, and found that only one (the University of Toronto) still requires a minimum of three SAT Subject Tests.

William R. Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard, said he remained "very much" a fan of the SAT subject tests, and that they were the single best predictor, followed by high school grades, of first-year grades of Harvard undergraduates.

But he said that the university decided to stop requiring three subject tests because the writing test on the main part of the SAT "has turned out to be a valid predictor of grades, just the way the subject tests are." (He stressed that his conclusion was based on the university's research on its own students, and was not a conclusion about college students generally.)

Upon seeing the SAT writing test "acting very much like a subject test," he said that it made sense to scale back the subject test requirement, since (counting the writing test as a subject test) applicants will be undergoing roughly the same amount of subject testing as they did before writing joined the main SAT.

While this is great news for students taking the SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests this summer and fall, they must also look at the underlying implications of these "diminishing" testing requirements--schools are now looking very carefully at the SAT I Writing section, and will also look much more carefully at the test results of two SAT Subject Tests submitted. Although students who do not submit any subject tests (when they are not required to), or who only submit the required number of tests will not be at a disadvantage, they will still need to ensure that the scores they do submit are the best reflection of their abilities, so that they only enhance their application, and not detract from it.