Easiest and Hardest SAT Subject Tests

Do you know how to improve your profile for college applications?

See how your profile ranks among thousands of other students using CollegeVine. Calculate your chances at your dream schools and learn what areas you need to improve right now — it only takes 3 minutes and it's 100% free.

Show me what areas I need to improve

What’s Covered:

 

Wondering which SAT Subject Tests to take? With 20 options, the choices can feel overwhelming. There are many factors to consider, including your academic strengths — as well as which tests are relatively easy or difficult.

 

Which is the easiest SAT Subject Test? There’s no quick or clear answer to this question. But you can figure out which is the best choice for you.

 

Note: The College Board announced on January 19, 2021 that they would be eliminating Subject Tests. There will still be international administrations for May and June, but they will be phased out afterwards. Domestic students will no longer be able to take Subject Tests at all, and those who have already registered will receive a refund. Please watch this livestream by one of our co-founders to learn more about how this change will impact admissions.

 

SAT Subject Tests by Average Score

 

Below is a chart with the mean score (highest to lowest) and standard deviation of each SAT Subject Test. Keep in mind that a higher mean score doesn’t mean the test is easier than others, especially in the case of language exams — many native speakers take these tests, raising the mean score. 

 

The standard deviation helps you gauge the variability of scores for a given test. A low standard deviation indicates that scores are less variable, while a high standard deviation indicates that scores are more variable.

 

Subject Test

Mean Score

Standard Deviation

Chinese (Listening)

760

67

Korean (Listening)

759

67

Math Level II

703

96

Japanese (Listening)

703

102

French (Listening)

679

114

Physics

675

106

Chemistry

672

104

Italian (Reading)

670

120

Spanish (Listening)

662

108

Molecular Biology

659

107

U.S. History

647

99

Spanish (Reading)

645

113

World History

634

111

Latin (Reading)

629

112

Ecological Biology

627

108

German (Reading)

625

133

German (Listening)

622

124

French (Reading)

622

125

Literature

616

108

Modern Hebrew (Reading)

616

147

Math Level I

614

109

Data from the College Board

Discover your chances at hundreds of schools

Our free chancing engine takes into account your history, background, test scores, and extracurricular activities to show you your real chances of admission—and how to improve them.

How Many Subject Tests Should You Take?

 

If you’re applying to a top school, we recommend taking 2-3 Subject Tests. However, during COVID-19, most colleges are test-optional, and Subject Tests aren’t usually necessary.

 

In fact, many schools are moving away from requiring Subject Tests for admission. Some, like Yale University and Amherst College, won’t even consider them for the 2020–2021 admissions cycle.

 

As mentioned above, Subject Tests are eliminated as of January 2021, and you will no longer be able to take them (unless you’re international, in which case, there are still May and June 2021 administrations). Please watch this livestream by one of our co-founders to learn more about how this change will impact admissions.

 

Which Subject Tests Should You Take?

 

First things first: check the Subject Test requirements at the schools on your list. There may also be requirements for admission to particular majors.

 

If there are no specific requirements, we recommended the following tests for certain majors and tracks:

 

Political science/pre-law: Literature, World or U.S. History, and Math I or II

 

International relations: World History, a language exam, and Literature, U.S. History, or Math I or II

 

Humanities: Literature, U.S. History, World History, and/or a foreign language and Math I or II

 

Business: Math I or II and a science or humanities exam

 

STEM/engineering: Math II, a science test, and a humanities test

 

Pre-med: Biology, Math I or II, and a humanities test

 

Check out our Subject Test guides for more information.

 

You may be wondering why we recommend that prospective STEM majors take a humanities test and why humanities majors should take a math test. Students should not only show expertise in their chosen field; they should also display skills in a range of topics. Furthermore, humanities majors benefit from the analytical and logical thinking that is tested in STEM subjects, and STEM majors benefit from the critical reading and analysis that are tested in humanities subjects.

 

Note also that we generally do not recommend that students take foreign lanuage exams, unless it’s relevant to their major, such as the case for International Relations. This is because native speakers take these exams, so it’s difficult to perform well relative to them.

How do SAT Subject Tests Impact Your College Chances?

 

Now that Subject Tests are no longer available, they likely won’t factor into your admissions decision. While colleges have yet to provide a clear stance, they would unlikely weigh Subject Tests if not all students have had the opportunity to take them before this major change. 

 

This means that your SAT or ACT score will be even more important. The most selective schools use the Academic Index (AI) to filter out candidates based on their GPA and test scores. If your academic stats are too low, they may not even read the rest of your application.

 

We’ve made it easy to understand the impact of your SAT score by creating a free Admissions Chances Calculator. This calculator will let you know how your score stacks up against other applicants’, and give you tips on improving the rest of your profile, including grades and extracurriculars.

 

Want more college admissions tips?

We'll send you information to help you throughout the college admissions process.

Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.

Don't miss out on the best high school & college admissions resources!

Join thousands of students and parents getting exclusive high school, test prep, and college admissions information.