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Submitting SAT Subject Tests

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. Keep in mind that if you were eligible for a fee waiver from the SAT or ACT, you are eligible for unlimited free score reports to be sent to institutions to which you are applying. We recommend you use your free score reports to share your scores with Harvard. Standardized testing is only one component of our admissions process and your application will be evaluated on the basis of all submitted information.

Standardized tests are best viewed as rough yardsticks of academic progress which are greatly affected by academic opportunity.

How subject tests are considered

Subject Tests can be helpful both for admissions and course placement purposes. Students whose first language is not English and those less familiar with standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT can often demonstrate their academic progress more effectively by also submitting Subject Tests. International students generally benefit from submitting Subject Tests and should take them if possible as they are unlikely to be admitted on the basis of SAT or ACT alone. 

The decision whether to take Subject Tests is entirely up to you. You should ask yourself whether other academic credentials including, but not limited to, AP results, IB marks, A Levels grades, etc., adequately represent your suitability for studying at Harvard. If there is any doubt, you should take two Subject Tests. Beginning with the 2018-2019 application cycle (students applying for Fall 2019 admission), applicants may provide self-reported SAT and ACT test scores (including Subject Tests, Advanced Placement, etc.). Admitted students who decide to enroll at Harvard College will be required to submit official test scores.

Role at Harvard

Subject Test results can be used to help assess which course levels are appropriate to take at Harvard and can enable you to pass our language requirement (700 or better on a language Subject Test) and take advanced courses from among 80+ foreign languages. Other standardized tests can also be used to meet the language requirement, for example, with a 7 in a Higher Level IB language exam or a 5 in an AP language exam or by successfully passing a placement test upon arriving at Harvard.

Standardized tests can also be used to apply for Advanced Standing, which offers the possibility of graduating in three years and/or receiving a Masters degree in the fourth year. Students scoring 5 on four or more of certain Advancement Placement Tests or 7 on three International Baccalaureate Higher Level Tests may be eligible for Advanced Standing if they meet certain other criteria during their first year of study at Harvard. However, very few students choose to graduate in three years and instead use the full four years to take advantage of Harvard’s many academic, extracurricular and other opportunities. Students who seek admission to Harvard College are advised that the current Advanced Standing program will change beginning in Fall 2020. Admitted students who enter the College as first-year in Fall 2020 (the Class of 2024), and all subsequent classes, will not be eligible to receive Harvard College degree credit for pre-matriculation credentials earned in secondary school. Learn more on the Office of Undergraduate Education’s website.


Facts About Financial Aid


Amount that parents making less than $65,000 are expected to contribute.

Ninety percent of American families would pay the same or less to send their children to Harvard as they would a state school.


Get step-by-step tips for completing your application.