SAT Subject Tests in STEM: Are They Worth Taking for Engineering Majors?

In the competitive landscape of college admissions, engineering majors face a myriad of choices when it comes to standardized testing. Among these choices are the SAT Subject Tests, which offer students the opportunity to demonstrate their proficiency in specific subjects, including Math, Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. For aspiring engineers, the question arises: are SAT Subject Tests in STEM worth taking? This article explores the considerations engineering majors should weigh when deciding whether to take these exams.

The Role of SAT Subject Tests in College Admissions:

SAT Subject Tests, formerly known as SAT II tests, are hour-long exams that assess students' knowledge in specific subject areas. While many colleges and universities no longer require SAT Subject Tests for admission, some institutions recommend or consider them as part of the application process. For engineering majors, whose coursework heavily relies on STEM subjects, these tests can play a significant role in demonstrating academic preparedness and competency.

Demonstrating Strength in STEM:

Engineering programs place a strong emphasis on mathematics and science proficiency. Taking SAT Subject Tests in Math Level 2 and subjects like Physics or Chemistry can showcase a student's aptitude in these foundational areas. A high score on these tests not only reflects strong academic abilities but also signals to admissions committees that the student is well-prepared for the rigors of an engineering curriculum.

Differentiating Yourself in the Admissions Process:

In the competitive world of college admissions, setting oneself apart from other applicants is crucial. SAT Subject Tests provide an opportunity for engineering majors to distinguish themselves by showcasing their strengths in STEM subjects. Particularly for students with exceptional performance in math and science courses, achieving high scores on these exams can bolster their application and increase their chances of admission to top engineering programs.

Alignment with College Admission Requirements:

While some colleges and universities have moved away from requiring SAT Subject Tests, others still recommend or require them for certain programs or majors. Prospective engineering students should carefully review the admission requirements of the institutions they are interested in applying to. If a school recommends or requires SAT Subject Tests in STEM subjects, it is advisable for engineering majors to take these exams to meet the criteria for admission.

Course Placement and Credit Opportunities:

In addition to serving as an admissions credential, SAT Subject Tests can also offer practical benefits for engineering students. Some colleges use these scores for course placement purposes, allowing students to bypass introductory-level courses and enroll in more advanced classes. Moreover, achieving high scores on SAT Subject Tests may enable students to earn credit for prerequisite courses, allowing them to progress more quickly through their engineering curriculum.

Complementing Academic Credentials and Extracurricular Activities:

For engineering majors, academic performance in STEM subjects and participation in related extracurricular activities are crucial components of their college applications. SAT Subject Tests provide an additional opportunity for students to showcase their strengths in these areas. A strong performance on these exams can complement a student's transcript and highlight their dedication to STEM disciplines, enhancing their overall profile as an applicant.

Consideration of Cost and Time:

It is important for engineering majors to consider the practical aspects of taking SAT Subject Tests, including the associated costs and time commitment. Registration fees, test preparation materials, and tutoring services can add up, especially for students from low-income backgrounds. Additionally, preparing for these exams requires time and effort, which engineering students may need to balance with their coursework and other responsibilities.


In conclusion, SAT Subject Tests in STEM subjects can be valuable for engineering majors, offering them an opportunity to demonstrate their academic strengths and readiness for college-level coursework. These exams can play a significant role in the college admissions process, particularly for students applying to institutions that recommend or require them. By achieving high scores on SAT Subject Tests, engineering majors can differentiate themselves, gain course placement advantages, and complement their academic credentials and extracurricular activities. However, students should carefully weigh the benefits against the costs and consider their individual circumstances when deciding whether to take these exams. Ultimately, for many engineering majors, SAT Subject Tests in STEM subjects can be a worthwhile investment in their future academic and professional success.