Target These 5 Best Places to Find College Scholarships, Grants


With time at a premium, focus on these reliable scholarship sources.


​It is much faster and easier to search for college scholarships and grants than it was 20 years ago, before the Internet​ changed the process for finding information forever. Now you just need an Internet​ connection and a phone, tablet or computer to find multiple resources for free money for college.

The following five ways to search are all viable and every one of them is a potential gold mine.

1. School: It makes sense, doesn’t it? Since school is the primary place for formal education of teenage students who are about to potentially go on to a postsecondary education, you can expect to find fliers, posters and planned financial aid information nights at your high school or possibly even middle school.

Look in the school’s lobby or rotunda and check your guidance counselor’s bulletin board. Ask your teachers and counselors about any potential financial aid for which you might be eligible. It doesn’t hurt to ask. There is nothing to lose and who knows – you might find a way to pay for a portion of your college costs.

2. Local library: The next most education-centered local source for most students is likely to be the public library. If you have one, even if you have not been a regular visitor, nothing is keeping you from going and asking the librarian or another employee what they know about local scholarship availability. Often you will find it is just a matter of asking the right person the right question when it comes to unlocking a wealth of valuable information.

3. Community organizations: If you or your parents belong to an organization such as the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, 4-H Club, Elks National Foundation or similar community organizations, you should find out if they offer any scholarships or grants. There are so many opportunities for students and parents who belong to these organizations, it is just a matter of performing a little bit of research.

The Scholarships for Scouts website lists many scholarship opportunities for students involved in scouting, so the parameters and deadlines will vary. The Elks National Foundation offers more than one scholarship so parameters and requirements will vary. However, they will require membership, so find out if your parent, uncle, aunt or a grandparent is a member and, if so, look into this great opportunity. Awards from the 4-H club will vary, but if you are a member, you should look up your local chapter and see what they offer. In Illinois, for example, 4-H Club has many youth development programs as well as a variety of scholarships.

4. Your employer: This could be a company for which a parent or possibly other relative has worked for years, or even your part-time employer when you are in high school. Any corporation with which you are connected might be a scholarship resource. Be sure to find out if any of the employers of anyone in your family offers scholarships or grants.

The McDonald’s Educates Scholarship Program offers one $1,000 award each year to a high-achieving student employee from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. One of those winners is eligible for a $5,000 prize. The United Technologies Employee Scholar Program covers tuition, academic fees and book costs for students attending of the company’s approved colleges, and there is no restriction on the type of degree. And the  CVS Health Scholarships are available to students of full-time CVS employees. The application process will reopen in early 2016.

5. Free online scholarship searches: This one, naturally, is my favorite. Ever since the late 1990s, students and parents have been able to easily get information about scholarships online, and even get matched to them by creating a profile. Rather than searching for each type of scholarship for which you feel qualified, specialized websites allow you to  just answer a few questions and find hundreds of potential sources for free college money.

Not only that, but you can save, organize and update your profile and search results, tracking which ones you plan to apply for, those you don’t, those you have applied for, etc.

While I recommend using all of the above mentioned methods, we all know time can be a major factor when pursuing such an endeavor. This is why I am constantly preaching the “early and often” method of researching and applying for scholarships. Start now and don’t stop until there are no reasonable matches left. If you want to win scholarships, you are going to have to find them first.

Kevin Ladd is the vice president of, one of the most widely used free college scholarship search and financial aid information resources online. The organization also formed RightStudent about five years ago, a company that has built relationships with colleges and universities across the U.S. to provide students with the opportunity to not only interact with prospective colleges, but to also be recruited by them. Follow on Twitter and Facebook.

Scholarship Search Insider features weekly expert advice and information on how prospective college students can find scholarships and pay for college. was founded in 1998 and has become one of the most widely used free college scholarship search and financial aid information resources. College Greenlight is a leading college and scholarship platform for first-generation and underrepresented students. Its parent company,, is a free resource that helps students find their best-fit colleges. Got a question? Email


3 Law School Admissions Trends to Expect This Cycle

University student looking up during exam

Competition remains fierce at top-ranked schools, but other programs will likely have more spots and financial aid available to students.

Falling application volume should have applicants rethinking their strategies.

​The relationship between supply and demand is one of the most basic principles of market economics. As the supply of a certain good decreases and demand stays the same, the good becomes more valuable.

This concept of supply and demand can be applied to the law school admissions process. From a law school admissions committee’s perspective, the good it is selling is admission to its incoming class, the supply is the number of applicants and the demand is the number of seats in the incoming class.

The vast majority of schools have a target class size that stays the same from year to year, thus keeping their demand fixed. The supply of law school applicants, however, has been decreasing steadily for several years, with last year having the fewest applicants in many years. This means that schools in general value law school applicants more highly than they have in past years. This week, I’ll discuss three major effects of this recent trend and how to adjust your application strategy accordingly.

1. Gaining admission to many law schools is more attainable. Since law schools are clamoring for qualified applicants, schools across the board have lowered their admissions standards. The LSAT and GPA ranges for accepted students at most schools have dropped, with LSAT scores in particular dropping several points in many cases.

Despite this general trend, competition for admission at the top schools remains fierce. The drop in overall applicants tends to affect lower-ranked schools much more than it does higher-ranked schools, because admission to higher-ranked schools remains coveted by all applicants.

This trend enables applicants to expand their list of reach schools, and to some degree, recalibrate which schools they should consider target and safety schools. In other words, now is a great time to apply.

2. Submitting applications early has become less important. One of the most commonly repeated pieces of advice regarding law school admissions is that the earlier an application is submitted, the more likely one is to gain admission.

Because of the rolling nature of law school admissions, this advice is generally correct, but the importance of applying early is often exaggerated. You should not rush to submit applications simply in order to gain the advantage of applying earlier in the cycle.

The diminishing importance of applying early in the cycle is especially true this year as the number of applicants continues to decrease. This is especially important for applicants who have not yet taken the LSAT or are planning to retake the LSAT.

If you are planning on taking the October LSAT but do not feel adequately prepared, you should likely postpone until December as the disadvantage of postponing the submission of your applications is now significantly outweighed by even a few more points on your LSAT score.

Because of the decreasing number of applicants, schools find themselves with more and more spots to fill later in the admissions cycle, enabling applicants to apply successfully very late in the cycle. In fact, my admissions counselors worked with a client who began working on his applications in late spring this year, past the deadline for many schools.

His dream school was Fordham University, and although the deadline for submitting applications had passed, he contacted the admissions office requesting to submit an application. The admissions office agreed to consider his application and he was admitted with an LSAT and GPA that in previous years would have made Fordham a reach school.

3. Merit-based scholarship money is more readily available. In addition to relaxing admissions standards, law schools attract candidates by offering merit-based scholarship money. As a result of the decrease in applicants, schools have begun to more aggressively offer merit-based scholarship money to admitted applicants.

One significant advantage this creates for applicants is the ability to negotiate for higher merit-based scholarship awards after acceptance.

For example, I worked with a student last year who was admitted to both the University of Southern California and the University of California—Los Angeles and was offered merit-based scholarships from both schools. By tactfully informing each school of the other’s offer, she increased her offer at USC by $30,000, a significant portion of the total cost of attending. We expect that such increases will be easier to negotiate this year.

How are you seeing these trends come to life? Email me or tweet me.

Shawn P. O’Connor, Esq. is the founder and CEO of Stratus Prep, a New York City-based test preparation and admissions counseling firm. For nearly a decade, he has counseled thousands of law school applicants, many of whom have been admitted to the nation’s top law schools including Yale, Harvard, and Stanford. O’Connor is an honors graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School and is an attorney admitted to the bar in New York and Massachusetts. E-mail him with questions.


Campus Resources for International Students

Zhang Bo/iStockphoto

Life at a U.S. College


Beginning your college life in the United States can be a big adjustment. But chances are, your school has a variety of resources available to help ease your transition— academically, culturally, and socially. Here are some to check out.

International Student Office

Kenneth C. Zirkel/iStockphoto

Your school’s international student office (ISO) should be one of your first stops as you get acclimated to campus. Advisers there will be able to help you with visa and immigration issues, and can connect you with other school resources, too.

Your Professors


In the United States, professors often encourage interaction with their students. Don’t be afraid to participate in class and take advantage of your professors’ office hours. The one-on-one setting will allow you to ask questions or simply get to know your instructors.

Your Academic Adviser

Vyacheslav Shramko/iStockphoto

Many U.S. colleges allow students to register for elective courses to broaden their education, regardless of their majors. Meet with your academic adviser to ensure you stay on track to complete your major while pursuing your other academic interests.

The Counseling Center


It’s normal to experience feelings of stress, culture shock, and isolation as a new college student in the United States. But you don’t have to handle them alone. Take advantage of counseling services, a common resource used by American students.

The Writing Center

Arthur Carlo Franco/iStockphoto

Sure, you took the TOEFL, but writing in English still might seem tricky. Utilize your school’s writing center, where other students can help you perfect your grasp of English grammar, research paper structure, and more.

The Career Services Center


International students don’t typically have the same employment options as their domestic peers, but the career services center at your school should be able to help you determine what jobs or internships you are eligible for.

The Legal Services Center


Whether you run into legal trouble or are simply curious about U.S. laws, stop by your school’s legal services center. Officials there may be able to help you understand anything from immigration issues to underage drinking restrictions in the United States.

The Student Union

Josef Philipp/iStockphoto

One of the fastest ways to feel at home in a college community is to make new friends. Surround yourself with peers at the student union, a universal gathering spot for college kids. Try to branch out from students from your home country to get a feel for all that your new community has to offer.

Find On-Campus Support for International Students

An ombudsman is just one type of campus support often underutilized by international students.

Most U.S. colleges and universities offer academic and social support services to promote college success among international students.

An appealing and distinctive feature of U.S. higher education is student affairs. While universities abroad might offer housing and some administrative support, many, if not most, U.S. colleges and universities offer a broad range of academic and social support services to promote college success.

International students tend to underutilize such services, even though they don’t typically cost anything, as they are often already included in student tuition and fees. International students may not be aware that such services exist because they are not known or provided at institutions in their home countries.

Check with your university to see which of the following are offered on your campus.

1. Tutoring and writing help: There are a range of academic support services and workshops that students are welcome to attend, often at no cost. These might include individual or group tutoring and writing support.

A common challenge for international students is adapting to new academic expectations and standards, especially for those whose first language is not English.

As a professor, I’ve noticed that while many international students have thoughtful and interesting ideas, what they want to communicate might not translate well in a second language. In other cases, international students who are accustomed to being evaluated on rote memory might struggle with creative writing assignments.

Campus resources to help students might be found within offices called the writing center, student tutoring, academic success or another related term. Your institution may also offer ongoing workshops on time management, note-taking and other study skills and strategies, which also tend to be free unless noted otherwise.

2. Student activities: In addition to academic engagement, social engagement is also critical for college success. There are countless events and activities that provide opportunities to meet and develop relationships with domestic and other international students.

Activities might include cultural events or weeks, performances, sporting events and clubs and organizations that meet regularly. Most are free to join, while sporting events can be attended for low student pricing. Check your university calendar and student affairs websites for upcoming events and more detailed information.

3. Counseling services: Some international students may experience difficulties in their adjustment to a new country and different cultural environment. Others might feel isolated without access to family and friends back home.

Universities offer counseling for all students, including international students, in which challenges can be shared and kept confidential as long as there is no criminal activity involved.

4. Ombudsman: Universities also tend to have an ombudsman, to whom students can go to in order to resolve conflicts and report university incidents while maintaining confidentiality.

If you experience unfair treatment, such as discrimination, sexual harassment or other unfair practices, knowing there are advocates for your rights ensures safety and peace of mind.

5. Faculty members and teaching assistants: The best way to get to know professors is by asking questions in class and attending office hours. International students may feel intimidated or insecure, particularly if English is not their first language, but they play a central role for universities seeking to internationalize.

Most instructors tend to be understanding and sympathetic to the concerns of international students. During office hours, come prepared with specific questions, whether it be about the class material or clarification about the U.S. context. Students may also seek advice on how to succeed in class or college in general.

In my own experience as a professor, I have found that many international students tend to be quite shy and quiet in class but have much to offer in a friendlier environment where they don’t have to compete with other students for attention.

I have truly enjoyed getting to know them during class but especially during my office hours and after class. In many cases, roles reversed whereby my international students were my teachers, enlightening me about their respective cultures and how the class material might relate to their home countries.

The preceding are just a few of the many ways that universities can work for you, the student. Knowing there are abundant resources, staff, programs and activities to promote student engagement will help international students make the most out of the U.S. college experience.

Sometimes the countless options might feel daunting, but noting what you need to feel secure and succeed is the place to start so you can identify where to go for support. It’s out there, and there are people to help.

Jenny J. Lee is an associate professor at the Center for the Study of Higher Education at University of Arizona. Her research includes international student mobility and experiences.

Leaving home to attend college or graduate school is a big step—and leaving your home country can be even scarier. Want to study in the United States? Find out how to succeed from undergraduate and graduate international students, who offer advice based on their experiences pursuing business, engineering, computer science, math, and other majors at U.S. schools. Admissions officials and experts also weigh in with tips so you don’t get lost in translation. Got a question? E-mail



10 Ways U.S. Colleges Work to Support International Students

pic3Befriending teaching assistants is a good strategy for international students who want to better understand class material and professor expectations.

Studying in a new country can be stressful, so ask if U.S. colleges you’re considering have these ways to make the transition easier.

​Going to college is already a big transition in life, not to mention when it includes attending a college in a different country. While international students may be worrying about their new life in the States, most colleges have already got that covered, from academic to physical needs. There’s no need to panic.

Here are some of the types of aid and support that most U.S. colleges provide to international students, so ask the schools you’re considering which they offer.

1. International student advisers: Reporting to the international student service office is the first thing you should do when you arrive on campus. Every international student is assigned to an adviser.

They help you to maintain lawful immigration status and handle all your visa-related issues such as off-campus employment, changing major, financial deposit, traveling documents and more. Contact the international student service office at colleges you’re considering or where you’ve been admitted to learn more about how your advisers can help you.

2. college or major adviser: College and major advisers assist students on mapping out an academic plan. They can help you declare your major, register for classes and plan for your graduation. They also give valuable advice to help you reach your potentials. Visit them at least once a semester to ensure you are on track.

3. Student mentors: In many colleges, incoming freshmen are assigned to a student mentor from upper classes, and at some schools, international students are paired with an international student mentor. They have been in your shoes. They can help with things like learning English, arranging study groups, buying groceries and meeting new friends.

4. Academic support center: Not sure about your major? Your college’s academic center can help you find one. You can also get study tips and learn how to improve your study habits here. Schedule an appointment with your academic center to start your college life right.

5. International student clubs or council: There are various clubs at colleges for all interests. Colleges typically have at least one club especially dedicated to international students. Students share their cultures and celebrate different cultural festivals. There may also be a club for students from your home country. Check out a college’s student activity boards to learn more.

6. Gym access: Have you heard of the freshman 15, the weight many students gain during their first year of college​? I didn’t believe I would gain weight when people warned me at the beginning, but I have learned that lesson. The school gym is there for a reason. Go there regularly every week and you will thank me later. Getting good grades is important, but so is staying healthy. Students have free admission to the gym.

7. Meal plans: Grocery shopping is hard when you don’t have a car, and that happens to many international students. Meal plans are available in most colleges, and they are a good option if you don’t want to worry about grocery shopping or cooking. Check with your college’s dining service to learn more about the available on-campus dining options.

8. Teaching assistants: Teaching assistants, also referred to as TAs, should become your best friends in your classes, if your university has them. They know your professors very well. They know how the professors write the exams, and they may even be the ones who grade your exams.

Talk to the TAs if you struggle in class – they are there to help you. I had some really nice TAs who would help with my grammar and let me know where I should focus my study on.

9. International student classes: Some colleges offer classes or class sessions especially for international students to help them adapt to the U.S. college life. These classes teach about American cultures and college writing style, often by professors who are also from a different country or are really familiar with different cultures. At my college, there’s an American Heritage class session that is especially for international students.

10. On-campus employment: For international students who wish to earn some extra money to support themselves without worrying too much about visa restrictions, the on-campus career center would be a good place to visit. I have worked at several on-campus jobs and earned enough to pay my bills.

Going to college is exciting yet worrying. We have been there. I worried a lot before coming to the States, but I quickly adapted to the U.S. college life with different help from the school. It will be a wonderful learning and growing experience.



Infographic: International Students at U.S. Colleges

f1studentsSee how colleges and universities compare when it comes to admitting and funding international students.

Students from around the world who are looking to study in the U.S. can explore data on nearly 1,800 colleges and universities using the 2016 U.S. News Best Colleges rankings, released this month.

Traveling to the U.S. for college is becoming more popular, and at a few schools, international students make up around a third of the student body. At Soka University of America, 38 percent of students are international students, the most among National Liberal Arts Colleges. The Florida Institute of Technology topped the National Universities category with 33 percent of students hailing from outside the U.S.

The data also show that some colleges give generous financial aid awards to international students. Skidmore College, located in New York state, led the pack with an average award of $56,600 – an amount that exceeds the school’s reported 2015-2016 tuition and fees, which total $48,970.

Students interested in studying in the United States can view the graphic below for more information and follow the International Student Counsel blog for tips on everything from the application process to life after graduation.


Study: U.S. Sees Increase in Number of Students From Latin America

pic1The growth of targeted exchange programs, such as the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program, for STEM students, has helped many more students from the region come to the U.S. to study.
More than 86,000 students from Latin America and the Caribbean came to the U.S. to study in 2014-2015.

A record number of students from around the world came to the U.S. to study last year. In all, the U.S. hosted 974,926 international students in the 2014-2015 school year – a 10 percent increase from the previous year, according to a report released today.

As in previous years, Asian nations were the top three countries of origin for U.S. international students.​ Chinese students alone made up 31 percent of all international students in the U.S.,​ according to the 2015 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, ​an annual survey from the Institute of International Education​ in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. India and South Korea rounded out the top three countries sending students to the U.S.

But the flow of international students from another region of the world stood out: Latin America​ and the Caribbean.

This region, which encompasses countries such as Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela, was the fastest-growing region of origin for international students in the U.S. in 2014-2015, according to the report.​

The number of students from Latin America and the Caribbean increased more than 19 percent​ from last year, to reach 86,378, nearly 9 percent of international students in the U.S.​ This growth was in part fueled by exchange initiatives spearheaded by both the U.S. and several Latin American governments, says Rajika Bhandari, IIE’s deputy vice president for research and evaluation.​

With these programs in place​, the number of students from Latin America and the Caribbean coming to the U.S. to study for shorter periods is rapidly increasing. There were 18,173 nondegree students from the region in 2014-2015, a 116.5 percent jump from 2013-2014.

One such initiative is 100,000 Strong in the Americas, a public-private partnership​. Backed by the U.S. Department of State, the grant program’s goal is to bring​ 100,000 students from elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere to the U.S. – and vice versa – by 2020.​

One grant awarded through this initiative supported a short-term study abroad program run by North Carolina State University—Raleigh​ ‘s crop science department.​ A dozen undergraduates traveled to Costa Rica for 10 days in March as part of a course on agriculture and food security, which allowed students to see firsthand how connected the U.S. and Latin American countries are.

“​When you travel to Central America and you spend time with local farmers there, you see that our fruit choices in the grocery store here are impacting their environment and their way of life there,” says Amber Beseli, a Ph.D. student​ in the crop science department at NC State who helped organize the Costa Rica program.

The Brazilian government also provides scholarships for science, technology, engineering and math students to study for a year at a U.S. college.​​ The Brazil Scientific Mobility Program has grown from 615 participating students to nearly 13,000 over the past four school years.

Brazil was the No. 6 country of origin​ overall for international students in the U.S. in 2014-2015. The number of Brazilian students increased 78 percent from last year, to a total of 23,675.

The University of Nebraska—Lincoln is a popular destination for students participating in the Brazil Scientific Mobility Program. They include students ​such as Edwin Duarte, an engineering​ student at ​Universidade Tuiuti do Paraná in Brazil, ​ who arrived at UNL in August. He lives on campus with a roommate from Omaha,​ and says he’s learned a lot about American culture in just a few months. “Everything is new,” he says. “Every single day you’ll learn something new.”

David Wilson, senior international officer and associate vice chancellor at the University of Nebraska—Lincoln,​ ​says the presence of such “engaged and engaging” Brazilian students on campus over the past several years spurred the university to offer​ a Portuguese language program, increase study abroad opportunities to Latin America and create more partnerships with universities in the region.

“To make it more likely that the world can solve the problems that challenge us, we need kids who understand all corners of the world,” and not just Europe, he says.

This fall, the University of Nebraska—Lincoln welcomed 116 Brazilian students to campus, he says.

The Open Doors report also shows that Latin American and Caribbean countries are increasingly popular destinations for U.S. students seeking a global education experience. Second only to Europe, which hosted 53 percent of U.S. students who went abroad, the region welcomed more than ​16 percent of all U.S. students studying abroad during the 2013-2014 school year, the most recent year for which data are available.​ ​Nearly 40 percent of the 22,181 students participating in non-credit work, internships and volunteering abroad did so in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Sydney Doe, a senior from Chicago studying biology with a minor in global health at Northwestern University, spent eight weeks over the summer studying public health in Cuba as part of a program supported by 100,000 Strong in the Americas.

“I think that Europe is pretty similar to the United States culturally and economically,” she says, so studying somewhere with more differences​ gives students more of an opportunity to grow. “They can expand their perspectives. I definitely did.”



What Is a Good SAT Subject Test Score?


| Posted by Rebecca Safier

Simple question; complicated answer.

This sounds like a straightforward question, but actually it’s a little more complicated than it looks. What makes a good score varies by subject test, since populations and number of test-takers differ from test to test. Last year, for instance, over 140,000 students took the Math Level II Test, 67,000 students took the Literature Subject Test, and only 635 took the Subject Test in Italian.

As you’ll see below, most good scores for Subject Tests are in the 700s, but there are some other factors to consider as you set your target scores. Let’s take a look at the average scores and score percentiles for each SAT Subject Test, so you can know what’s a good score for each individual Subject Test.

While we’ll be looking at statistics and college requirements to answer this question, it’s also important for you to define what “good” means to you – with effort and preparation, you should be proud of the scores you ultimately achieve!

What Are the Average Scores?

Good SAT Subject Test scores tend to be a good deal higher than good scores on the general SAT, since highly academically achieving students tend to take the Subject Tests. This chart shows the average scores for each Subject Test. For a full breakdown of what these average scores mean, check out this article.

Subject Test Mean Score
Korean with Listening 767
Chinese with Listening 759
Japanese with Listening 688
Math Level 2 686
Italian 684
Spanish with Listening 668
Physics 667
Chemistry 666
Spanish 656
Biology M 655
French with Listening 654
U.S. History 651
French 635
Biology E 626
World History 624
German with Listening 624
German 622
Math Level 1 621
Modern Hebrew 620
Latin 615
Literature 613

See how the average score for the Korean with Listening is an incredibly high 767? The average for Literature looks like a more reasonable 613.

So a “good” score would be higher than average, maybe even in the top 25% of test-takers, or top 5% if you’re shooting for the Ivy League.

Based on these averages, a score of 700 could mean completely different things depending on the test. It would be a strong score on the Literature test, but only slightly above average on the Math Level 2. And on the Korean with Listening test? A 700 would be way below average.

Now that you have a sense of the average scores for each test, and why they matter for your percentile, let’s look at the score percentiles for the Class of 2014.

What Are the Score Percentiles?

Along with getting a score somewhere between 200 and 800, you also get a score percentile, which compares you to other students who took the test. Scoring in the 80th percentile, for example, means that you scored higher than 80% of other students.

This chart shows how scores became percentiles for last year’s test-takers.

Literature, History, Math, and Science Subject Tests

Score Literature U.S. History World History Math Level I Math Level II Biology E Biology M Chemistry Physics Score
800 98 97 85 99 81 98 95 90 89 800
790 97 95 93 98 78 96 93 87 86 790
780 95 93 91 98 74 95 90 83 83 780
770 94 91 89 96 70 93 87 80 80 770
760 92 88 87 94 66 91 83 76 76 760
750 91 84 84 92 62 88 80 72 73 750
740 87 81 81 89 59 85 76 68 70 740
730 83 77 79 86 55 82 72 65 66 730
720 80 73 75 82 52 78 68 62 63 720
710 76 69 72 78 49 76 63 57 59 710
700 73 64 70 74 46 71 60 54 56 700
690 70 61 67 71 43 68 56 50 52 690
680 66 57 63 67 41 64 52 47 48 680
670 62 53 61 63 38 60 48 43 45 670
660 58 49 57 58 35 57 45 40 42 660
650 53 45 54 55 31 52 42 37 39 650
640 50 42 51 51 28 49 38 35 36 640

Language Subject Tests

Score Chinese* French* German* Japanese* Korean* Spanish* French German Modern Hebrew Italian Latin Spanish Score
800 64 82 95 88 64 94 87 87 84 81 94 92 800
790 50 80 93 76 45 90 85 82 80 71 93 90 790
780 40 78 91 71 34 86 83 81 77 68 91 87 780
770 32 76 88 68 26 80 80 78 76 63 89 85 770
760 27 73 85 60 22 76 78 76 74 59 87 80 760
750 24 70 83 57 19 69 76 73 71 54 83 76 750
740 21 67 78 50 15 67 73 70 71 51 81 73 740
730 17 66 75 47 14 61 71 67 69 47 78 69 730
720 15 62 72 43 12 58 68 65 66 43 74 66 720
710 14 59 68 39 10 56 65 63 66 41 72 63 710
700 12 57 66 35 9 53 64 59 65 38 68 58 700
690 11 53 60 33 8 50 61 58 63 36 66 55 690
680 10 51 59 31 7 47 58 55 60 33 64 52 680
670 9 46 57 29 6 46 56 53 60 30 59 49 670
660 8 43 55 28 5 42 53 50 58 28 58 46 660
650 7 40 52 25 5 39 51 46 56 25 53 43 650
640 6 38 50 24 4 38 49 43 54 24 51 39 640

*with Listening

As you can see, there’s a lot of variation among the Subject Tests. That’s what makes answering the question, “What’s a good SAT Subject Test score?” a bit more complicated. Some tests are considered easier than others – check out the Easiest SAT Subject Tests here – and the grading curve can be more competitive depending on the population of test-takers.

Based on this data, here are my suggestions for good and excellent scores for each test. These are the scores you should aim for if you want to achieve in the 70th percentile or above, the 80th percentile or above, or the 90th percentile or above.


Good and Excellent SAT Subject Test Scores

Finally, the last way to identify a great SAT subject test score is to find which score you need to score at a certain percentile. We’ve compiled all of the scores you need to reach 70th, 80th, and 90th percentiles below:

Subject Test 70th %ile+ 80th %ile+ 90th %ile+
Literature 690 720 750
Biology E 700 720-730 760
Biology M 720-730 750 780
Chemistry 740-750 770 800
Physics 740 770 800
U.S. History 710-720 740 770
World History 700 740 770-780
Math Level 1 690 710-720 740-750
Math Level 2 770 790-800 800
French 720-730 770 800
German 740 780 800
Spanish 730-740 760 790
Modern Hebrew 730-740 790 800
Italian 780-790 790-800 800
Latin 700-710 740 780
French with Listening 750 790 800
German with Listening 710-720 740-750 780
Spanish with Listening 750-760 770 790
Chinese with Listening 800 800 800
Japanese with Listening 770-780 790-800 800
Korean with Listening 800 800 800

Some tests, like Math Level II, Physics, Chemistry, Chinese with Listening, Korean with Listening, and Italian, require almost perfect scores to get a high percentile! Don’t feel overwhelmed by this, however. A lot of these tests have high averages and low standard deviations, meaning most well-prepared students are able to get a high score near or above the average. So if these subjects are your strong suit, then you are statistically likely to be able to achieve a very high score.

On the flip side, if you’re not so strong in math, physics, or these other subjects, keep in mind that the grading curve is very competitive – you’ll be competing with students likely bound for top engineering and technical schools like CalTech and MIT. Reflect on your academic strengths and subject mastery to determine if one of these tests is right for you.

As mentioned earlier, good SAT Subject Test scores are higher than good scores on the general SAT. As you can see, to score in the 70th percentile or higher, you have to get in the 700s for almost all of the subject tests. The two exceptions are Literature and Math Level I, which are still pretty high around 690.

There is one more consideration when determining good scores on the SAT Subject Tests: the colleges you’re applying to. Your percentiles are comparing you to all students who took the test. But not all of these students are applying to the same colleges as you.

It’s helpful to get a sense of what the average Subject Test scores are for your colleges. What do they expect to see? Do admitted students usually score in the low 700s or high 700s? Will the college overlook a low percentile on a Subject Test if they know the grading curve for that test was particularly competitive?

Let’s consider these questions a little more in depth.

Uncovering your college’s requirements might take a bit of detective work.

Investigate Your Colleges

As with all the other parts of your application, you want to know what your colleges are looking for. What SAT scores do you need? What do they consider a strong GPA? Unfortunately, colleges can be pretty evasive when it comes to giving you an exact answer to what you want to know. Instead, they stress that it’s a holistic process, that admissions officers are looking at all elements of your application to get a sense of you as a person.

While this is all well and good, and you wouldn’t want your candidacy to be boiled down only to facts and figures, it still leaves you a bit stuck when it comes to the SAT and SAT Subject Tests.

The first step you can take is researching the admissions websites of your colleges. Simply Google the name of the college, along with SAT Subject Tests or average SAT Subject Test scores, and you may find exactly what you’re looking for. If this is a dead end, you might try calling the admissions officers and asking if they will share this data, or at least their recommendations.

If you’re concerned about bothering them, don’t be! Lots of admissions officers have tons of valuable information and are happy to share – plus demonstrating that you have a vested interest in the college – by speaking to people on campus, going on visits, even just putting your name on email lists – will further strengthen your application. With the college process, there’s nothing helpful about playing hard to get. Put yourself out there!

Here is some information I’ve found on Subject Test scores for specific colleges. Based on this, you can assume that schools with similar selectivity and rankings will have similar expectations. Let me know in the comments if you know of any more schools I can add.

  • MIT – admitted students score between 720 and 800 on their science Subject Test.
  • Middlebury – students tend to score in the low to mid 700s on the Subject Tests.
  • Princeton – average Subject Test scores are between 710 and 790.
  • UCLA – the average best Subject Test score for students was 734.
  • Williams – the top third of students scored between 750 and 800.

If your sights are set on the Ivy League, check out this article on the Subject Test scores and requirements for the Ivy League (coming soon).

Finally, let’s step outside the statistics and requirements and consider your own personal goals.


Did you celebrate 3/14 this year? Show off your affinity for math by scoring high on the Math Subject Test.

Customize Your Target Scores For You

What are your personal goals for the Subject Tests? Have you memorized the first hundred digits of pi, or are you always the one who calculates the tip at dinner? If you consider yourself a math whiz, then it might be very important for you to score highly on the Math Subject Test, not only to demonstrate your abilities to college, but because you know you can.

When I was in high school, I absolutely loved English class. Reading and analyzing books revealed new ways of thinking about the world and human relationships. Even when it was hard work, it was work I wanted to do.

This doesn’t mean I naturally was able to score a perfect score on the Subject Test. The Subject Test was a much different way to demonstrate subject mastery than my normal classwork, considering its strict time limits. But I felt driven to score well in this particular subject, so I studied practice questions and trained myself to read passages and answer questions under strict time limits.

By reflecting on your strengths and interests, as well as by taking practice tests and scoring them yourself, you can develop your own sense of what’s a good score for you. Once you’ve set your target scores, tape them to your wall so you see them everyday. Sharing your goals with friends, study buddies, or family is another good way to stay accountable.

Once you’ve set your goals based on this information and your colleges’ expectations, you can start preparing for the SAT Subject Tests you’ve chosen. College Board has a helpful breakdown of each Subject Test, as well as practice questions, here. Check out our other resources below to answer any other questions you have about the Subject Tests or the SAT.

About the Author

Rebecca Safier graduated with her Master’s in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.



The Complete List of SAT Subject Tests

Home_Illustration_2 | Posted by Rebecca Safier


The SAT Subject Tests are a chance for you to show where you have specialized knowledge. With these tests, you can show which subjects interest you and which you’ve taken the time to get to know well.

With that being said, how can you decide which SAT Subject Test to take? First, let’s take a look at all the SAT Subject Tests from which you can choose.

List of SAT Subject Tests

There are 21 SAT Subject Tests (we’re counting Biology E and Biology M as two separate tests). They cover four core subject areas – English literature, history, math, and science – with 9 variations within these domains: Literature, U.S. History, World History, Math Level 1, Math Level 2, Biology Ecological, Biology Molecular, Chemistry, and Physics.

There are an additional 12 Subject Tests that cover 9 different languages: French, French with Listening, German, German with Listening, Spanish, Spanish with Listening, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Latin, Chinese with Listening, Japanese with Listening, and Korean with Listening.

To put it another way, there are 21 different variations of tests to choose from. All SAT Subject tests cover 13 subject areas – 4 core courses and 9 languages.

Let’s take a look at how many students take each SAT Subject Test, from most to least. We’ll also show you the average scores these students achieve.

Subject Test Mean Score # of Test-takers
Math Level 2 686 140,690
U.S. History 651 84,455
Biology E/M E – 626
M – 655
74,157 (32, 662 – E and 41,495 – M)
Math Level 1 621 72,828
Chemistry 666 72,250
Literature 613 67,132
Physics 667 52,323
Spanish 656 22,453
World History 624 18,172
French 635 8,635
Chinese with Listening 759 6,167
Spanish with Listening 668 3,868
Korean with Listening 767 2,986
Latin 615 2,960
French with Listening 654 1,972
Japanese with Listening 688 1,521
German 622 758
German with Listening 624 675
Italian 684 635
Modern Hebrew 620 412

As you can see, the core courses, like literature, math, history, and science, attract the largest number of students. When it comes to tests that have Listening and non-Listening options, more students tend to opt for the non-Listening option.

You’ll notice a large variation in average scores of tests. A higher mean score does not necessarily mean that a Subject Test is easier – instead, it likely means that people who opt for that test know that subject really, really well. Check out our further analysis of which SAT Subject Tests are the easiest based on their mean scores and other factors. (coming soon)

Now that you know all the options, how can you decide which Subject Test to take?


How to Decide Which Subject Tests To Take

What Do the Colleges Want?

First off, you need to know the requirements of your college. How many Subject Tests does the college want you to take? Is the college a technology school that will take a close look at your knowledge in math and science? Or is it a liberal arts school that wants you to demonstrate a range of abilities, like one test in English literature and another in math?

Some colleges have adopted a test optional or test flexible policy, which may give you the option of sending SAT Subject Tests in place of the general SAT or ACT. Check out our article for the full list of colleges with these policies. These approaches could be really helpful for you to know, as they let you shape your application in the way that’s best for you.

Another consideration is placement in college classes. Some colleges may prefer Listening language tests to non-Listening language tests, for example, because they demonstrate that extra dimension of fluency. If you’re a native speaker, the Listening language test is likely to be easy for you to achieve a great score on. If you’re not, you want to make sure your language skills have reached a very high level before taking a Language Subject Test.

College requirements and expectations play the biggest role in which ones out of all the Subject Tests you decide to take, but within those requirements, you may still have several options. Now you have to consider where you can best demonstrate subject mastery.

What Do You Know?

The Subject Tests are testing your knowledge of a particular subject, rather than your reasoning skills. In this way, they’re closely aligned with your academic classes and the finals or AP exams you take to demonstrate your content and conceptual knowledge.

Since people often devote more time to learning about things that actually interest them, the Subject Tests also tell a story about you – what you’re interested in and have dedicated time to understanding. So if you love reading and understanding books, you should probably take the Literature test. Not only will you be likely to get a high score, but you’ll also be indicating your personal interests to admissions officers. The Subject Tests offer one more way you can individualize your college applications and tell a story about your personality and identity.

Did you know that you can take the Subject Test whenever you feel ready? You don’t have to wait until junior year to take one. You may be ready to take the biology or chemistry tests, for example, at the end of freshman or sophomore year. The math tests, on the other hand, tend to require several years of high school level math.

The best time to take the Subject Tests is near the end of the school year when you’ve been studying the relevant subject and the content is fresh in your mind. Click here to learn about the best test dates and how to schedule your Subject Tests alongside the SAT or ACT and your other assignments.

Besides choosing your subject, you also might have more decisions to make. As you saw above, there are some variations within each subject which are important for you to know.


Which Format Is Best For You?

Language Tests

As you saw above, the French, Spanish, and German language tests offer Listening and non-Listening options. If you have strong listening skills, then the Listening tests are a great way to demonstrate fluency. They may also place you in a higher level once you get to college. Check with the individual college on this policy, as some have their own placement tests.

If you don’t feel confident in your listening skills, then your best bet would be to take the non-Listening option, or another Subject Test altogether. The language tests tend to be difficult to score high on if your language skills are limited to a classroom environment.


Are you intrigued by populations and energy flow within systems? Or do you prefer to know how cells work and the ins and outs of photosynthesis?

There are two options within the Biology Subject Test – the Ecological Subject Test and the Molecular Subject Test. Both share a core 60 questions, and then have 20 additional questions with an ecological or molecular focus. You can further explore the differences between the two tests and try practice questions here.


If you’re taking a math Subject Test, you have to decide between Math Level 1 and Math Level 2. For Level 1, you will need to have taken at least 2 years of algebra and 1 year of geometry. For Level 2, you should have taken these plus some trigonometry and pre-calculus. Both tests require you to use a graphing calculator, but Level 2 requires more complex use of the calculator.

You can learn more about the Math Level 1 test here and Math Level 2 test here. Like with the Listening language tests, Math Level 2 has a higher mean score and lower standard deviation, meaning most students who take it score near the relatively high mean score of 686. If you’re not super confident in math, it may be harder to score in a high percentile in comparison amidst all those other high scorers.

To Sum Up…

Ultimately, you’re the expert in your own learning. You know what captivates you, or makes you fall asleep. You know if you learn best by seeing, listening, doing, or a combination of lots of different things. You’ve probably already been drawn to and chosen the classes in high school that will determine which of this list of SAT Subject Tests you’re in the best position to take.

You know yourself better than anyone else – so as long as you research the Subject Tests and have a strong sense of what will be on them, along with your colleges’ requirements, you’ll make the right decision about the SAT Subject Tests.

About the Author

Rebecca Safier graduated with her Master’s in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.


NCAA ACT Scores: What You Need to Qualify


| Posted by Rebecca Safier


If you’re a student athlete who wants to play in NCAA Division I or Division II sports in college, then this article is for you! We’ll review NCAA’s eligibility criteria for your GPA and ACT score, which NCAA compares using a sliding scale. Most importantly, we’ll give you the tips and strategies you need to achieve the NCAA ACT scores you need to pass the clearinghouse.

First, let’s quickly review how your grade point average, or GPA, is determined.

Review Of How Your GPA Is Calculated

NCAA considers the grade point average of your core courses. These include 4 years of English, 3 years of math at Algebra I level or higher, 2 years of natural or physical science (one lab if offered at any high school attended), 1 year of additional English, math or natural/physical science, 2 years of social science, and 4 years of foreign language, philosophy or comparative religion. Check out your own high school to see which of its courses qualify as NCAA core courses.

This means your core course GPA might be a little different than the one reported on your transcript, which is an average of all the courses you have taken at high school. GPAs are calculated on a 4.0 scale. The chart below shows how letter and percentage grades translate to this 4.0 scale.

Letter Grade Grade Point Percentage
A 4 94-100%
A- 3.7 90-93%
B+ 3.3 87-89%
B 3 83-86%
B- 2.7 80-82%
C+ 2.3 77-79%
C 2 73-76%
C- 1.7 70-72%
D+ 1.3 67-69%
D 1 60-66%
F 0 0-59%

Since NCAA compares your GPA and ACT score, let’s review how the ACT is scored. With this understanding, you’ll be able to determine exactly what ACT scores you need and how to achieve them.

Review Of How the ACT Is Scored

For a detailed explanation of how the ACT is scored, check out our article here. The gist is that the ACT has four sections: math, science, English, and reading. Each of these sections is scored on a scale from 1 to 36, and these four section scores are averaged together to get your composite score, also out of 36. However, your composite score doesn’t really matter for NCAA.

Instead, NCAA adds your section scores together into a “sum score.” So your sum score must be at least 4 and at most 144 (36 x 4).

Before you get a scaled score from 1 to 36, each section receives a “raw score.” Your raw score is simply the number of questions you answer correctly in each section. The chart below shows how raw scores are converted into scaled scores.

Why is this important? Because once you know your target score, you can figure out what raw score you need. In other words, you can determine how many correct answers you need and how many questions you can essentially ignore. Note that the ACT does not deduct any points for wrong answers, so you should still fill in answers to those questions you’ve skipped. You might get lucky and add a point or more to your raw score!


How NCAA Considers Your ACT Scores

As we said above, NCAA adds your section scores from math, science, English, and reading into a sum score. For example, if you got a scaled score of 20 in all four sections, then your sum score would be 80 (20 + 20 + 20 + 20 = 80).

If you take the ACT more than once, NCAA will take your best section scores from any dates. NCAA will mix and match your highest section scores so you get your highest possible sum score.

Now let’s move on to the really important part – how NCAA compares your GPA with your ACT score.

NCAA Eligibility – The Sliding Scale

NCAA uses a sliding scale that compares your GPA and ACT scores. If you have a higher GPA, you can meet the eligibility requirements with lower ACT scores. Conversely, if you have a lower GPA, you have to make up the difference with higher ACT scores.

With a 2.8 GPA, for example, you need an NCAA ACT requirements score of 57. If you scored around the same in each section, this might be around 15 (out of 36) in each section. You could score a little higher in some and lower in others.

These charts show the sliding scale to qualify for Division I and Division II teams. While you can qualify with a 2.0 GPA currently, you will need at least a 2.3 GPA starting August 1, 2016. After that date, students with a GPA between 2.0 and 2.3 may qualify for “Academic Redshirt” – they will get athletic aid and practice but cannot compete.

Division I Division II
Core Course GPA ACT Sum Core Course GPA ACT Sum
3.550 & above 37 3.300 & above 37
3.525 38 3.275 38
3.5 39 3.25 39
3.475 40 3.225 40
3.45 41 3.2 41
3.425 41 3.175 41
3.4 42 3.15 42
3.375 42 3.125 42
3.35 43 3.1 43
3.325 44 3.075 44
3.3 44 3.05 44
3.275 45 3.025 45
3.25 46 3 46
3.225 46 2.975 46
3.2 47 2.95 47
3.175 47 2.925 47
3.15 48 2.9 48
3.125 49 2.875 49
3.1 49 2.85 49
3.075 50 2.825 50
3.05 50 2.8 50
3.025 51 2.775 51
3 52 2.75 52
2.975 52 2.725 52
2.95 53 2.7 53
2.925 53 2.675 53
2.9 54 2.65 54
2.875 55 2.625 55
2.85 56 2.6 56
2.825 56 2.575 56
2.8 57 2.55 57
2.775 58 2.525 58
2.75 59 2.5 59
2.725 59 2.475 60
2.7 60 2.45 61
2.675 61 2.425 61
2.65 62 2.4 62
2.625 63 2.375 63
2.6 64 2.35 64
2.575 65 2.325 65
2.55 66 2.3 66
2.525 67 2.275 67
2.5 68 2.25 68
2.475 69 2.225 69
2.45 70 2.2 70 & above
2.425 70
2.4 71
2.375 72
2.35 73
2.325 74
2.3 75
2.275 76
2.25 77
2.225 78
2.2 79
2.175 80
2.15 80
2.125 81
2.1 82
2.075 83
2.05 84
2.025 85
2 86

Once you know your GPA and what you need to qualify, how can you get these scores? Read on for our important tips and strategies.

How To Hit Your Target ACT Scores

Play To Your Strengths

Since NCAA adds together all your section scores, all sections of the ACT are important and require test prep. However, since there is no minimum per section, you can achieve your target sum score with any combination of section scores. Put it another way, you can play to your strengths. What subjects are you stronger in? Which subjects are not your forte? If you love English but feel like math messes with your head, to give one example, you can aim for a higher target score in the English and reading sections than in the math sections.

While you definitely need to prep for all sections, you can define different target scores for English, reading, math, and science depending on your strengths and what you can realistically achieve with the time you have to prep.

Devise a Strategy

Once you have your target scores defined, take a look at the raw score chart we presented above. How many questions do you need to get right? If you need an 18 in English, for example, you need to answer 17 – 19 questions correct (aim for at least 19). This is less than ⅓ of all the English questions!

As you’re taking the test, don’t waste time on the really hard questions. Seek out questions you can confidently answer. At the same time, don’t leave any questions blank. As we mentioned above, there is no point penalty for wrong answers, so you might as well guess. If you skip any questions, leave a little time at the end of each section to fill in the rest on your bubble sheet.

You may also be able to improve your scores by taking the ACT more than once. Check out the ACT test dates here – start early to make sure you have enough test dates.

Get Training

As with the rigorous hours you put in for your sport, you need to step up to some serious training for the ACT. Doing well on the ACT is not about just showing up and being smart – it’s all about how prepared you are. Studying will help you get better, just as practices allow you to improve as an athlete. This isn’t a metaphor – it’s how any skill is developed. And believing that you can grow and get better is a big part of clearing the way for growth to happen. As you know during exhausting practices and games, a huge part of performing is winning this mental game.

These values of dedication, effort, discipline, and internal motivation will help you on the ACT and carry you through your career as a student-athlete in college. Figure out your strengths, drill your weaknesses, and keep up your drive and hunger to achieve your goals.


Find Time

Finding time for test prep is easier said than done, especially with your packed schedule of school, homework, practices, games, and social life. Create a schedule and set aside specific time for ACT studying to ensure that you make time.

As you take practice tests, time yourself the way the real test will be timed. This will help you get used to the pacing of the questions in a short amount of time, as well as understand your own stamina and what you need to do to keep up your focus and energy levels.

Use the Right Materials

You wouldn’t train for baseball with a wiffle ball, just as you shouldn’t train for the ACT with sub-par materials. High quality test prep questions are a must for preparing you for the test and breaking down the skills and content you need to master within each section. Check out our free E-Book for important tips about the ACT.

ACT Questions of the Day are also an easy and convenient way to add some extra test prep to your day. They can be accessed online or on your phone. By starting months ahead of your test, ACT QOTD will get you familiar with a variety of questions and help you figure out which kinds of question need extra attention.

To Sum Up…

By being aware of NCAA ACT and GPA requirements well ahead of your application deadlines, you will have enough time to train for the ACT, take the test several times, and ensure that you meet the NCAA eligibility criteria.

As an athlete, you know well that training and practice makes all the difference. By applying those same skills of self-discipline and internal motivation to your ACT prep, you will be able to take your career as a student-athlete to the next level at the college of your choice!

About the Author

Rebecca Safier graduated with her Master’s in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.