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Allen Grove

850 Colleges Don't Require SAT or ACT Scores

By September 8, 2012

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FairTest keeps an up-to-date list of the colleges and universities that do not require SAT or ACT scores. The current number stands around 850 institutions, and every year more schools join the test-optional movement. This is good news for students who feel that standardized test scores fail to measure accurately their preparedness for college. The flurry of test cheating scandals in recent years gives even more energy to the push towards test-optional admissions, as do abuses such as the score inflation found at Emory University (see story) and Claremont McKenna College (see story).

SAT Book Burning
SAT Book Burning
-Marlith- / Flickr

While the majority of the country's top-ranked colleges and universities don't appear on the list, more and more selective colleges are making the move to test-optional admissions (for example, Wake Forest, Pitzer, Bowdoin, DePaul, and Mount Holyoke are all test-optional).

To learn more, check out this article on test-optional colleges, and visit the FairTest website to see the complete list of test-optional colleges.

Related Reading:


August 1, 2011 at 7:09 am
(1) Jon W. says:

815 sounds like a very big number. However, I wonder what percent of the nations top 100 colleges/universities subscribe to this ‘no SAT/ACT’ policy. That statistic would also be interesting for the top 200 and top 300 schools.

October 14, 2011 at 2:18 pm
(2) Community College says:

LOL! Sounds like “850 colleges are super desperate for students” and are going to get hit hard by the decreasing amount of college applicants for the next 10 years!

Go to community college and transfer to top universities.

October 14, 2011 at 4:10 pm
(3) Bob Schaeffer, FairTest says:

In fact, more than 120 colleges and universities ranked in the “top tier” of their categories by U.S. News & World Report have test-optional or test-flexible admissions policies. That list includes 36 of the nation’s top 100 liberal arts colleges

February 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm
(4) Michelle Kretzschmar says:

I think it’s interesting that Wake Forest doesn’t require the scores for admissions but does require you to submit them if you are accepted and enrolled. The good scores get reported to US News?

February 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm
(5) collegeapps says:

They would report all the qualifying scores they receive to U.S. News (for all schools, students who are admitted through opportunity programs, special talent, and other special designations are often not reported). But there are many reasons a school might want the scores: academic advisers have additional information related to their advisees; scores are often used for course placement; some programs (such as NCAA athletics) require scores; and so on.

September 9, 2012 at 7:47 pm
(6) Karri says:

Last time I checked COLLEGES are pretty much just BUSINESSES. You are the customer. I don’t see the validity of requiring SAT or ACT in most cases. If the student (an ADULT) wants to spend there money learning, they should be allowed. If they fail… it’s their own fault. A SAT or ACT shouldn’t be a deciding factor. How many people just cram for the test, take it and never remember a stitch of it later. What a waste of time!!

September 18, 2012 at 8:06 am
(7) Ronald says:

100% right Mr.Karri. I like your comment. Anyway now easy to get the college admissions without SAT or ACT. Thanks for the information..

September 23, 2012 at 8:13 pm
(8) Anne says:

I am willing to bet that the top tier colleges and universities that have test-optional or test-flexible admissions policies also have extremely stringent admissions qualifiers that would most likely preclude the acceptance of individuals who would not attain competitive SAT/ACT scores. What do you think?

September 23, 2012 at 8:38 pm
(9) collegeapps says:

Hi Anne — That will be largely true, but there will be exceptions. You’re correct that the admissions bar is high at the top test-optional colleges. You’re going to need an “A” average with lots of rigorous courses. You’ll need meaningful involvement in extracurricular activities. That said, a few students out there simply don’t perform well on high pressure tests, but they do have lots of “A” grades in Honors, IB, or AP courses, and they have a lot to offer a college on the non-academic front. By having a test-optional policy, a college makes sure that these smart, talented students aren’t precluded because of a number on a four-hour test. Studies have shown that a high GPA in a rigorous curriculum is a better indicator of college success than standardized test scores.

May 23, 2013 at 7:10 pm
(10) Columbia Alumni says:

FWIW, I attended Teachers College, Columbia University’s graduate school of education. No test scores were required or even asked for as an option.

What I *did* have to do, however, was a lot of writing and discussion of my goals, my experiences, etc.

Research keeps showing that test scores are meaningless, and yet some folks seem to still want to cling to the idea that it is a useful measurement. All it is a measurement of is, well, how well you take tests.

March 12, 2014 at 5:40 pm
(11) Oregonn8v says:

Thank you college apps. My daughter is one such student. She has a 3.8 GPA and is taking primarily honors and IB courses. She is a varsity runner in Cross Country and Track, is the Junior Editor of the yearbook and participates in a number of leadership activities at her school and church.

She is a horrible test taker.

This has been a huge fear of her’s that schools will simply look at there SAT/ACT score and toss her application aside rather than look at the comprehensive application. She has a couple of schools where she would be quite successful but does not know how to bridge the standardized test score gap.

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