Preparing for College

Is Spanish Subject Test Required for Ivy League Applicant?

Question: My son is about to start 12th grade and wants to apply to Ivy league schools. He has finished four years of Spanish and has decided not to continue because of a heavy load of AP classes. Will he have to take an SAT subject test in a language if he applies to University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Princeton, Yale and Brown?

Your son does not need to take the Spanish Subject Test (or any foreign language SAT II). However, he will need two Subject Tests for the schools you've named. Thus, with four years of Spanish under his belt, he might want to give it a shot anyway, even if he's not currently enrolled in a Spanish class. Of course, if he has other areas in which he feels more confident (e.g., science, history) then there's no need for him to take a shot at the Spanish.

Do, however, check college Web sites carefully to see if there are specific Subject Tests that your son will need to take. For example, if he is applying to engineering programs, he is likely to need math and at least one science. Cornell's School of Human Ecology requires a math Subject Test for all applicants to any of its majors, and Cornell's School of Agriculture and Life Sciences recommends both math and science.

But Spanish isn't mandatory anywhere that I can think of. Obviously, if a student is listing Spanish (or something related like Latin American Studies) as a prospective major, then a strong Subject Test score would be a plus at admissions-decision time. But if your son is ready to say "Adios" entirely to the Spanish language--at least for now--then he doesn't have to take a Subject Test in that field.

However, it's possible that your son could end up at a college with a foreign language requirement. If so--and if he decides he wants to continue with Spanish rather than start a new language--he will need to find out how class placement is determined. He may discover that it's advantageous to take the SAT II test because it might enable him to get into a higher class ... or even to place out of the requirement altogether. So that's something he may want to investigate now, rather than waiting to see where he will land next September.