Easiest and Hardest SAT Subject Tests

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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)



Korean (Listening)



Math Level II



Japanese (Listening)



French (Listening)









Italian (Reading)



Spanish (Listening)



Molecular Biology



U.S. History



Spanish (Reading)



World History



Latin (Reading)



Ecological Biology



German (Reading)



German (Listening)



French (Reading)






Modern Hebrew (Reading)



Math Level I



Data from the College Board

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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.


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.

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