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20 Great Colleges for Students with Low SAT Scores

Low SAT Scores Don't Need to Ruin the Hopes of Otherwise Strong Students


Sewanee, The University of the South

Sewanee, University of the South
wharman / Flickr
Sewanee can boast of a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, small classes, and an 11 to 1 student / faculty ratio. The university has a particularly strong English program that is home to The Sewanee Review and Sewanee Writers Conference.
  • Location: Sewanee, Tennessee
  • SAT Reading (Middle 50%): 570 / 680
  • SAT Math (Middle 50%): 580 / 670
  • Test-Optional? Yes

Smith College

Smith College Student Center
redjar / Flickr
Smith is one of the top women's colleges in the country, and it also features test-optional admissions. Smith is a member of the five college consortium along with Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, and UMass Amherst. Students at any of these five colleges can easily take classes at the other member institutions. Smith has a beautiful and historic campus that includes the 12,000 square foot Lyman Conservatory and the Botanic Garden.
  • Location: Northampton, Massachusetts
  • SAT Reading (Middle 50%): 590 / 710
  • SAT Math (Middle 50%): 560 / 670
  • Test-Optional? Yes

Texas A&M at College Station

Texas A&M
Blue Ag09 / Flickr
If you are a Texas resident in the top 10% of your high school class, you will be assured admission without SAT or ACT scores. The university has many strengths in engineering and agriculture, but the liberal arts and sciences are also extremely popular among undergraduates. In athletics, the Texas A&M Aggies compete in the Division I SEC Conference.
  • Location: College Station, Texas
  • SAT Reading (Middle 50%): 520 / 630
  • SAT Math (Middle 50%): 560 / 670
  • Test-Optional? See Above

University of Hawaii at Manoa

University of Hawaii at Manoa
hellochris / Flickr
Manoa's strengths are many, including highly ranked programs in astronomy, oceanography, cancer research, and Pacific Island and Asian studies. The university has a diverse student body representing all 50 states and 103 countries. UH at Manoa is the only college in Hawaii to have a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society.
  • Location: Manoa, Hawaii
  • SAT Reading (Middle 50%): 480 / 580
  • SAT Math (Middle 50%): 510 / 610
  • Test-Optional? No

University of Iowa at Iowa City

University of Iowa Old Capitol
Cbenning / Wikimedia Commons
Iowa has strong programs in nursing, creative writing and art, to name just a few. Some of the University of Iowa's graduate programs are consistently ranked among the top in the country. The Iowa Hawkeyes compete in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference, and historically the football, basketball and wrestling teams have enjoyed great success.
  • Location: Iowa City, Iowa
  • SAT Reading (Middle 50%): 520 / 650
  • SAT Math (Middle 50%): 550 / 670
  • Test-Optional? Yes

University of Montevallo

University of Montevallo Reynolds Hall
Courtesy of Matt Orton
Most students submit ACT scores, not SAT, but applicants with average scores won't find the admissions standards beyond their reach. As a public liberal arts college, Montevallo is a true value. The campus is charming, and students can expect strong student-faculty interaction.
  • ACT Composite (middle 50%): 19 / 24
  • ACT English (middle 50%): 19 / 25
  • ACT Math (middle 50%): 17 / 23
  • Test Optional? No

University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas, Austin, Tower
Silly Jilly / Flickr
UT Austin requires SAT or ACT scores all applicants, but students who are Texas residents in the top 7% of their high school class will be guaranteed admission (note that scores are used to place students in majors). The university is one of the top public universities in the country. It has numerous selling points including a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, a top business school, and membership in the Division I Big 12 Athletic Conference.
  • Location: Austin, Texas
  • SAT Reading (Middle 50%): 530 / 660
  • SAT Math (Middle 50%): 560 / 690
  • Test-Optional? See Above

Ursinus College

Ursinus College Bomberger Hall
PennaBoy / Wikimedia Commons
Ursinus is a highly selective college, but they do not require SAT scores if an applicant has a strong enough GPA and high class rank. Ursinus is a top-rate liberal arts college with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, a 12 to 1 student / faculty ratio, generous financial aid, an excellent observatory and art museum, and a new performing arts building. In 2009, the college was ranked #2 for "up-and-coming" colleges by US News & World Report.
  • Location: Collegeville, Pennsylvania
  • SAT Reading (Middle 50%): 550 / 660
  • SAT Math (Middle 50%): 560 / 660
  • Test-Optional? Yes

Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University
Jijithecat / Wikimedia Commons
Wake Forest is one of the most selective colleges to move to test-optional admissions. The university combines the small classes and low student/faculty ratio of a private liberal arts college with the excitement of Division I athletics as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
  • Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • SAT Reading (Middle 50%): 610 / 700
  • SAT Math (Middle 50%): 630 / 710
  • Test-Optional? Yes

Washington College

Washington College Casey Academic Center
Courtesy of Washington College
Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College has a long and rich history. The college was recently awarded a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa for its many strengths in the liberal arts and sciences. The college's scenic location provides students with opportunities to explore the Chesapeake Bay watershed and the Chester River.
  • Location: Chestertown, Maryland
  • SAT Reading (Middle 50%): 520 / 630
  • SAT Math (Middle 50%): 520 / 610
  • Test-Optional? Yes

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