27 great schools that don't require SAT or ACT scores

  • The SAT and ACT are two of the most common metrics schools use to determine who they allow in.
  • But many students suffer from crippling test anxiety, which can impact scores and lower their chances of attending their college of choice.
  • Recent studies suggest that standardised tests disproportionately favour white and wealthy students.
  • Here are 30 universities that don’t require SAT or ACT scores.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.

For many prospective college students, taking the SATs and ACTs is a nerve-wracking, anxiety-producing experience. While the SAT can certainly help some students by potentially acting as a type of equaliser for those with lower high school grades, a growing body of research shows that placing so much weight in these types of exams can cause crippling anxiety.

In 2018, Jennifer Heissel, an associate professor at the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy at the Naval Postgraduate School, studied stress levels from a group of New Orleans elementary school students before and after they took a standardised test. The findings did not bode well for the exams. The test increased the children’s cortisol (a stress hormone) levels, which in turn led to poor results.

“We found that the kids who had large responses in changes in their cortisol performed worse on high-stakes test,” Heissel told INSIDER.

While Heissel notes that these are early findings and encouraged more testing to be done, the results appear to confirm something many high school students preparing for college intuitively understand: high-stakes tests can send some people over the edge.

Test scores were originally meant to create a level playing field, but a strict reliance on them may be having the opposite effect. A report released this week from Georgetown University found that if students were admitted only on the basis of their test scores at 200 of the nation’s most selective colleges, only 53% of the incoming students would gain admission. The report also concluded that if colleges were to admit only those students with the highest scores, the student body would be noticeably wealthier and less diverse.

Even though most universities place some degree of importance on standardised exams, there are still plenty of great schools that do not require students to take either the SAT or ACT. Here are 27 great universities that don’t require SAT or ACT scores.


27. Colorado College does not require SAT or ACT scores.

Facebook/Colorado CollegeA student working on a project at Colorado College.

Located in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the school has just over 2,000 undergraduates. Colorado College is unique in that it utilises what they call a block plan. Under this, students take one class every three and a half weeks and class weeks are only three days long.

Students interested in applying to Colorado College should fill out the Common App, where they will need to include a personal statement, pay a $US60 application fee, send their high school transcript, and try to get multiple letters of recommendation.

Apply Here:

Source:Colorado College


26. Ithaca College lets you choose whether or not to send test scores.

Ithaca CollegeIthaca College.

Ithaca college began as a small conservatory in 1892 in Ithaca, New York. Since then, it’s grown to an enrollment of 6,200 undergraduates studying across five schools and 120 majors.

Ithaca College doesn’t require standardised tests scores for admission consideration. Interested students will need to submit the Common App and submit supporting documentation.

Apply Here

Source:Ithaca College


25. St. John’s University allows you to send an essay instead of test scores.

St. John’s UniversityThe Peter J. Tobin School of Business at St. John’s University.

St. John’s University is located in Queens, New York and has 21,346 undergraduate students.

Students can apply to St. John’s University using either the Common App or the St. John’s Application. For those who want to avoid submitting SAT and ACT scores, St. John’s requires an additional personal essay and encourages letters of recommendation.

Apply Here

Source: St. John’s University


24. University of Puget Sound will let your write essays in lieu of test scores.

Joe Mabel/WikimediaUniversity of Puget Sound’s campus.

Puget Sound was founded in 1888 by the United Methodist Church.Today, about 2,400 undergraduates attend the small liberal arts college in Tacoma, Washington. Puget Sound says they are one of only two independent colleges in Washington State.

Interested students will need to fill out the Common App, pay a $US60 application fee, and send their transcript, a letter of recommendation and an additional essay. Students who choose not to submit standardised test scores are instead asked to answer two short essay questions.

Apply Here

Source:University of Puget Sound


23. Smith College does not require applicants to submit test scores.

GettySmith College’s campus.

Smith College was founded in 1871, and is one of the nation’s most prestigious women’s colleges.

Smith College’ admissions website emphasises the importance of factors outside test scores.

“Smith doesn’t rely solely on grades and test scores to select new students; we choose people, not statistical profiles,” the school’s website says.Standardised testing is optional, but the school heavily encourages hopeful students to schedule an interview with the admissions department.

Apply Here

Source: Smith College


22. College of the Holy Cross values grades over tests.

College of the Holy CrossThe College of the Holy Cross library.

College of the Holy Cross was founded in 1843 in Worcester, Massachusetts, and has a student body of just over 3,000 people. The most popular majors there are economics, psychology, and political science.

The college’s website encourages students to take rigorous classes and claims to analyse each applicant individually, to see how their performance matches up with the school. College of the Holy Cross says they do not disadvantage any applicants that chose not to submit test scores.

Apply Here

Source:College of the Holy Cross


21. Bowdoin College does not require test scores for most students.

Bowdoin College/FacebookBowdoin College’s campus.

Bowdoin is one of the top ranked liberal arts colleges in the country. Located in the small town of Brunswick, Maine, Bowdoin comes out at number five on US News and World Report’s ranking of liberal arts colleges. Founded in 1794, Bowdoin was a men’s-only college until 1971. Now, the college has an enrollment nearing 2,000 students.

Bowdoin College does not require the SAT or ACT results from most of its incoming students. Students interested in applying to the university should send an application, a supplemental essay, a counselor recommendation, teacher recommendation, and a high school transcript.

Apply Here

Source: Bowdoin College, U.S. News and World Report


20. Marist College cares more about high school performance than test scores.

GettyMarist College’s campus.

Marist College boasts an undergraduate population of 6,474 and is located in Dutchess County, New York. Marist offers 47 bachelor’s programs, Division I sports, and more than 80 clubs and organisations.

Marist makes a point on their website to say that it places the greatest amount of weight on high school transcripts when considering applicants. Students are not required to send test scores

Apply Here

Source: Marist College


19. Connecticut College does not require tests to apply.

https://www.conncoll.edu/media/header-images/campus-and-community/beautiful-campus-photos-nature-architecture-studen/campus-aerial.jpgConnecticut College’s campus.

Connecticut College is located in New London, Connecticut, and has an undergraduate enrollment of 1,865 students. According to the school’s website, 92% of Connecticut College’s undergraduates ranked in the top 20% of their high school class.

The submission of standardised test scores is optional, but the university says you should send test scores, “if you feel they are representative of your achievement and will enhance your application.”

Apply Here:

Source: Connecticut College


18. The University of Evansville does not require most students to submit SAT or ACT scores.

Avontbone/WikimediaThe University of Evansville’s campus.

Founded in 1854, the University of Evansville is located on 75 acres of land in Evansville, Illinois. The university says it, “values academic achievement, character, and initiative,” and does not require most students to submit standardised test scores.


Apply Here

Souce: University of Evansville


17. The University of South Dakota does not require SAT or ACT scores.

University of South DakotaThe University of South Dakota’s campus.

The university refers to itself as its state’s “flagship” university. The school is located in Vermillion and has around 10,000 students. The school’s website says its top fields of study are nursing, business, health sciences, and elementary education.

While you’re welcome to submit test scores, you can also gain admittance by having at least a 2.6 GPA, a score of three or higher on the English Language Arts and Mathematics Smarter Balanced Assessments, or by finishing in the top 50% of your graduating class.

Apply Here

Source: University of South Dakota


16. California State University Fullerton does not require test scores from high performing students.

GettyCalifornia State-Fullerton’s mascot poses with students.

Located in Fullerton, California, the university has nearly 40,000 undergraduate students. Diversity is valued at CSF: Students from nearly 80 nations attend.

California State-Fullerton normally requires SAT and ACT scores, but California residents can avoid this if they have a minimum 3.0 GPA. Out of state students interested in avoiding standardised test will need a GPA of at least 3.6.

Apply Here

Source: California State University Fullerton


15. Texas Tech University will automatically admit you if you’re in the top 10% of your class.

Flickr / Kimberly VardemanThe Texas Tech campus at sunset.

Located in the town of Lubbock, Texas Tech is a large research university known for its campus life and sports programs. According to the school’s website, 40 of its faculty members have received Fulbright Scholar recognition in the past 10 years.

Texas residents who finish in the top 10% of their graduating school can avoid submitting standardised tests altogether. These students will need to send in an application and pay a $US75 application fee.

Apply Here

Source: Texas Tech University


14. James Madison University no longer requires standardised test scores.

taberandrew via http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewbain/535171926/in/photolist-PhTYb-2bmrwh-2DGV2m-2Jswc3-36nJCn-3Wsbzw-3Y6PJW-48YFKZ-4g1n84-4HZFfy-4KH5Si-4MpGor-4U4K6U-4VQ9L9-52a86E-5infaN-5zm1Pu-5Ak9C8-5MjggP-5RNNVT-624iae-67aTsX-6ndQYp-6ndUpM-6ne4Mv-6pgWz8-6JT7uX-6UmjrP-6UqmKu-72ETR3-75tsaF-bBbpTB-auAmYf-8dcyPZ-aahSNy-aaf4uB-aahS3w-aaf4wR-9qTy99-7Tipq6-8SUpiM-cjuCiw-ckTokC-cjuLqG-cjuKEs-cjuLL3-cjuE75-cjuL1N-cjuEUu-cjuEvu-cjuDAb/ creative commonsStudents on the green at James Madison University.

James Madison University has a total undergraduate population of 19,974 and is located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, only a few hours from Washington, D.C. Some of the most popular majors at the university include community health services and counseling, communication, and liberal arts and humanities, according to Niche.

James Madison University does not require standardised test scores from applicants, and instead focuses primarily on high school grades. It encourages interested students to take rigorous, college level and AP courses.

Apply Here

Source: James Madison University


13. Loyola University Maryland has a test-optional policy.

GettyLoyola Maryland fans cheering on lacrosse team

Loyola University is a private Catholic university located in Chicago, Illinois. The school has 17,007 enrolled students and is passionate about their Division I sports. According to the school’s website, the school ranks seventh in female STEM graduates.

Applicants who opt in for the university’s test-optional policy do not have to submit SAT or ACT but are required to submit an additional essay or a letter or recommendation.

Apply Here

Source: Loyola University Maryland


12. George Mason University offers a ‘score optional’ program for select students.

GettyGeorge Mason University campus

Founded in 1972, this relatively new university is located in Fairfax, Virginia and has a total enrollment of 37,316. George Mason offers 211 academic programs. Some of the most popular majors offered include, psychology, criminal justice, and political science.

Students can apply to George Mason using either the Common App or Mason’s Exclusive Online Application.George Mason says students applying for its Score Optional program, “should demonstrate evidence of consistent, strong performance in a challenging academic curriculum by having taken a robust selection of college preparatory, honours, advanced placement and International Baccalaureate courses.”

Apply Here

Source: George Mason University


11. University of Arizona lets you decide whether or not to submit test scores.

GettyThe University of Arizona mascot with fans.

The University of Arizona is located in the heart of Tucson and has an undergraduate enrollment of 35,123. The school is known for its competitive Division I sports team and some of the most popular majors include, business, management, marketing biological and biomedical sciences.

While SAT and ACT scores are not required for admittance, students will need them in order to be considered for merit scholarships or for admission to the honours program. Home schoolers are also required to submit scores.

Apply Here

Source: University of Arizona


10. American University has a test-optional plan.

Via FlickrAmerican University’s campus.

American University is minutes away from the nation’s capital and as such, tends to attract some of the most politically active students. The schools has over 12,000 students from all 50 US states and 124 international countries.

Students interested in American University will need to submit an application on the Common App or Coalition App. Pay a $US75 application fee, and provide a high school transcript and letter of recommendation. Students can opt for the “test-optional” policy if they want to avoid the SAT and ACT. American University says that, “While tests help to predict your potential for success in college, your academic performance in the classroom is the most important factor in our review of your application.”

Apply Here

Source: American University


9. University of Texas Austin has a top 6% rule.

According to World Atlas, the University of Texas ranks as the seventh largest student body in the United States. Over 51,000 students are enrolled at the school which is spread across the center of Austin, Texas. UT is known for strong academics, great nightlife, and passionate sports scene.

Students interested in the University of Texas can apply using either Apply Texas or The Coalition for College Application. While the university typically requires SAT and ACT scores, Texas residents who are among the top 6% of their school’s graduating class are guaranteed automatic admission by state law, and are not required to submit test scores.

Apply Here

Source: University of TexasWorld Atlas


8. Wesleyan University has a ‘test optional’ option.

Wikimedia CommonsWesleyan University.

Wesleyan was founded in 1831 in Middletown, Connecticut, and is one of the top liberal arts schools in the country. Just about 3,00 students attend Wesleyan, with some of the most popular majors being economics, area studies, general English literature, and political science and government.

Wesleyan does not require standardised test scores and says: “We believe that students should have the power to decide how best to present themselves to the admissions committee and whether-or not-their standardised test results accurately reflect their academic ability and potential.” The University also allows you to suppress test scores or only submit your highest critical reading, writing and maths scores from each test you take.

Apply Here

Source: Wesleyan UniversityCollege Factual


7. University of Delaware does not require test scores for in-state applicants.

GettyStudents cheering on University of Delaware football team.

The University of Delaware was founded in 1743 in Newark, Delaware and currently enrolls 24,120 students. According to the university’s website, Delaware’s first graduating class included, “three signers of the Declaration of Independence and a signer of the Constitution.”

While most students will still have to submit an SAT or ACT score to gain admittance to U of D, in-state high school students do not. To apply, you will need to send a transcript, pay a $US75 application fee, and submit an additional essay.

Apply Here

Source: University of Delaware


6. Rollins College has a ‘test score waived’ option.

GettyKnowles Memorial Chapel at Rollins College.

Rollins college is located in Winter Park, Florida, just minutes away from the coast. The school was established in 1885 and now has just over 3,000 students enrolled.

Rollins says about 10 per cent of their application pool each year chooses not to submit standardised test scores. The university recommends the Test Score Waived Option for students, “who perform well in the classroom but whose academic strength is not reflected in their standardised test scores.”

Apply Here

Source: Rollins College


5. Wake Forest University says ‘numbers rarely tell the whole story.’

Shutterstock/ Bryan PollardWake Forest University’s campus.

Located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Wake Forest is a renowned private university with just over 8,000 students. The school offers 45 majors, with some of the most popular including social sciences; business, management, marketing, and journalism.

Wake Forest University stopped requiring SAT and ACT submissions in 2008 and they say the following year undergraduate ethnic diversity increased by 90 per cent. Prospective students will need to complete an application and send their high school transcripts. Interested students are strongly encouraged to schedule an interview with Wake Forest Admissions.

Apply Here

Source: Wake Forest University, U.S. News and World Report


4. George Washington University is test-optional.

Instagram/George Washington University

George Washington is the second school on this list located in the US capital city. Over 26,000 students attend GW, which is known for its strong academics, Division I sports, and access to DC internships. George Washington University’s test optional policy went into place in 2015, and since then, they have places a greater emphasis on what a student does in class versus the results of a single test.

“The best indication of whether a student will be successful at GW is their performance in high school-the grades they earn and the rigour of their coursework,” the university says on its website. “This has always been the most important part of the application process at GW and this will not change, regardless of whether you choose to submit scores.”

Apply Here

Source: George Washington University


3. Brandeis University has a ‘test-optional’ policy.

Brandeis UniversityBrandeis University in the snow

Brandies University is located in Waltham, Massachusetts, and has 3,639 students. Some of the most popular majors at Brandeis include, economics, general, biology, and business and communications.

Brandeis says they have a, “holistic, student-centered review, that “takes into account your academic performance and potential and your out-of-class activities.” Prospective students will need to complete the Common App, pay a $US80 application fee, a mid-year senior report, and furnish a letter of recommendation. Students who do not want to submit SAT or ACT scores can submit three of these approved documents or they can provide “a graded analytical writing sample,” from 11th or 12th grade.

Apply Here

Sources: Brandeis UniversityU.S. News and World Report


2. New York University has “one of the most flexible testing policies of any college or university.”

Flickr/Doc SearlsWashington Square, near New York University’s campus.

Located in the dense heart of downtown Manhattan, New York University is an ultra-urban campus with over 50,000 students. While many of these students are based in the New York campus, NYU also has numerous study abroad locations in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America.

NYU requires all incoming first-year students complete the Common App and pay an $US80 application fee. The university claims it has “one of the most flexible testing policies of any college or university.” While you can submit SAT or ACT scores, you can also show them an International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, thee SAT subject test scores, three AP exam scores, three IB higher-level exam scores, or a variety of international examinations.

Apply Here

Source: New York University


1. The University of Chicago does not require SAT or ACT scores.

GettyFormer president Barack Obama at the University of Chicago.

The University of Chicago was founded in 1890 by John D. Rockefeller and is considered one of the most academically rigorous universities in the country. The school currently has 6,286 undergraduates studying across 52 majors.

University of Chicago says they use a “holistic review” process and that no one piece of information alone determines whether or not a student will gain admittance. The university accepts both the Common App and the Coalition Application and requires a personal statement and supplemental essays. Students are encouraged to discuss their extracurricular activities.

Apply Here

Source: The University of Chicago

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