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How many SAT Subject Tests should I take? What score is good enough?

QUESTION: I am a high school junior trying to get into an Ivy league school, preferably Harvard or Yale. Columbia is my safety school. First, I would like to know if a 710 on the chemistry SAT Subject Test is good enough or if I should take the test over. Second, how many SAT Subject Tests should I take? Would taking four and getting 700s on all of them give me an advantage? Lastly, if I get a 1500 or higher on the critical reading and math sections of the SAT Reasoning Test, should I take the test over again just to prove that it was not a fluke? Signed, High Scorer

Dear High Scorer: It sounds like you've been struck with a case of SAT tunnel vision. One of the misconceptions about college admission is that it is based entirely on test scores. While test scores are important, they certainly are not the only factor considered by colleges.

With that said, as you've pointed out your scores on the SAT Subject Tests are important in demonstrating your knowledge of specific subject areas. Most colleges require three SAT Subject Test scores. However, this does not limit you to taking only three exams. Taking additional exams and doing well on them will show the breadth of your knowledge.

A 710 on the chemistry exam is anything but shabby. If you are considering majoring in the sciences and are confident that you can score higher, then you may want to take the test again. Otherwise, it's not necessary. Your time may be better spent on writing your admission essays and applications.

For the SAT Reasoning Test, if you score above 1500, you probably don't need to take the exam again. Spend your time instead working on your college applications. It sounds like you are on the right track to being admitted to a selective school, but remember that standardized tests are only one portion of the college application. And while you do seem to have a strong academic record, it is still difficult to be admitted to the most selective colleges. We recommend that you consider safety schools that are less selective to insure that you have college options. And make sure that you're strong in the non-test areas as well such as extracurricular activities, community service, leadership, classes and the essay.

The bottom line is that scores alone won't get you into a highly selective college.

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Gen & Kelly Tanabe

Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.