Damian SAT/ACT Prep Guides and Tips: Ivey League requires SAT Subject Tests Part 1


Besides the GPA, the regular ACT or SAT score, extra-curricular activities and records, you need SAT Subject Test scores. We will cover the Subject Tests requirements for the Ivey League schools. How to prepare? How to approach them? What is a good score?

At Damian SAT ACT Prep we advise our students looking to land a spot in an Ivey League that SAT Subject Tests are a must.

If we take a look at the websites of the 8 Ivey League schools in the U.S: Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, UPenn and Yale and few top notch colleges like Duke, Georgetown, MIT, Stanford and University of Chicago, we learn a lot.

All of these schools generally recommend or require two SAT Subject Tests,with the exception of Georgetown, which asks for three. Lately, though, there’s been an increase in schools, including top-ranked ones, making SAT Subject Tests completely optional.


For example, although Harvard typically requires two Subject Tests, it now says that they do not require the Subject Tests for students falling into a specific category: the cost of taking them is representing a hardship for the family, or if simply the applicant is not willing to take the Subject Tests and specifying that in the application.


Stanford is also recommending not requiring the SAT Subject Tests.

Even though you can opt out, both Harvard and Stanford strongly recommend taking Subject Tests and sending in your scores. If these tests present a financial barrier to you, definitely speak with admissions officers and get their advice.

We at Damian SAT ACT Prep we advise our students that there are several ways one can get a free waiver and take the test for free!! Just call the companies and ask directly for the info.

University of Chicago and Columbia

The only schools on this list that don’t emphasize on SAT Subject Tests are the University of Chicago and Columbia.

Columbia used to require Subject Tests but made them optional starting with the admission session in 2016. There is a lot of doubt when making the decision on taking or not taking the Subject Tests. However, we strongly recommend our Damian SAT ACT Prep students to talk directly to the colleges, find out more details, and consult with accepted students.

SAT Subject Test Requirements at Top Schools


School # of Subject Tests Recommended/Required ACT Replace Subject Tests? Notes From School
Brown 2 recommended “If you are applying to the Program in Liberal Medical Education, we strongly recommend one subject test in either Biology, Chemistry or Physics.”
Columbia None “SAT Subject Test and other proficiency exam scores are not required by Columbia, but we will accept your results if you choose to submit them … You will not be at a disadvantage should you choose not to take these optional tests or submit the scores to Columbia.”
Cornell Varies by program Applicants must submit either 0 or 2Subject Tests, depending on the college.
Dartmouth 2 recommended “We recommend that you submit 2 SAT Subject Test scores to help us better understand your academic strengths…We encourage you take tests in the two subjects you like the most.”
Duke 2 recommended Yes “Applicants to the Pratt School of Engineering who take the SAT are strongly recommended to take one SAT Subject Test in Mathematics (level 1 or level 2). Applicants to the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences who take the SAT may take any two SAT Subject Tests.”
Georgetown 3 recommended  — “It is strongly recommended that all candidates, whether they have taken the SAT Reasoning Test or the ACT, submit three SAT Subject Tests scores.”
Harward 2 recommended “While we recommend that you submit two SAT Subject Tests, you may apply without them if the cost of the tests represents a financial hardship or if you prefer to have your application considered without them. … International students generally benefit from submitting Subject Tests and should take them if possible.”
MIT 2 required All applicants must take one Subject Test in math (level 1 or 2) and one in science (biology e/m, chemistry, or physics).
Princeton 2 recommended Engineering candidates are advised to take a math (level 1 or 2) Subject Test and the chemistry or physics test.
Stanford 2 recommended “SAT Subject Tests are optional. Because SAT Subject Test scores can highlight your areas of strength, we welcome the self-reporting of these results in your application.”
University of Chicago None  “Subject Tests are truly optional, and not sending us Subject Test scores will not hurt your application.”
UPenn 2 recommended
  • Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences: Any two Subject Tests
  • Nursing: Science, preferably Chemistry
  • STEM: Math Level 2 and a science test (preferably Physics for Engineering Applicants)
  • Business: Math Level 2
Yale Recommended (no # specified) “SAT Subject Tests are recommended but not required. Applicants who do not take SAT Subject Tests will not be disadvantaged in the application process. We will consider your application on the basis of the other testing, and all the other information, that we receive with your application.”

Note: The column “ACT Replace Subject Tests?” means that this school accepts the ACT and Writing Essay in lieu of the SAT + two Subject Tests. In other words, you can submit the ACT + Writing and not have to worry about taking any SAT Subject Tests. If this space has a dash in it, you’ll need to send in the number of Subject Tests required, regardless of whether you take the SAT or ACT.

Until recently, most of these schools required three Subject Tests. Now, Georgetown is the last one with this rather high-stakes expectation.

If you’re taking the ACT instead of the SAT, you might not have to send Subject Test scores at all. This is the case at Duke, where you can submit your ACT with Writing Essay score instead of your SAT and SAT Subject Test scores.

But if you do have to send two or three Subject Test scores, which tests should you take?

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