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Low SAT or ACT Scores? Check Out These Test-Optional Colleges

Low SAT or ACT Scores? Check Out These Test-Optional Colleges

If you got low SAT scores or low ACT scores, or if you simply didn't take the exam in time for application deadlines, realize that hundreds of test-optional colleges do not require entrance exams as part of their admissions applications.

The list below is just a sampling of the roughly 850 four-year colleges that do not require the SAT or ACT. I have, however, included most of the highly selective schools that don't require scores. To see a complete list, visit the FairTest website. Also be sure to check out my list of 20 Great Colleges for Students with Low SAT Scores.

Colleges don't use test scores for many reasons. Some technical schools, music schools and art schools don't see the ACT and SAT as good measures of the types of skills they require. Other schools recognize that the SAT and ACT limit their applicant pools and give an unfair advantage to students from schools or families that can afford test prep courses. You will also find on the FairTest list that many schools with strong religious affiliations do not require standardized tests.

Admissions policies change frequently, so check with each school for the latest testing guidelines. Also, realize that some of the schools below are test-optional only for students who meet certain GPA or class rank requirements.

Schools that don't require the ACT or SAT for some or all applicants

  • American University
  • Arizona State University at Tempe
  • Arkansas State University
  • Austin Peay State University
  • Bard College
  • Bates College
  • Bennington College
  • Bowdoin College
  • California State University at Bakersfield, Chico, Dominguez Hills, East Bay, Fresno, Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Monterey Bay, Northridge, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Marcos, and Stanislaus
  • Brandeis University
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Clark University
  • College of the Atlantic
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Connecticut College
  • Denison University
  • DePaul University
  • Dickinson College
  • Drew University
  • East Tennessee State University
  • Eastern Kentucky University
  • Fairfield University
  • Franklin and Marshall College
  • Furman University
  • George Mason University
  • Gettysburg College
  • Goddard College
  • Goucher College
  • Guilford College
  • Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Hampshire College
  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Hofstra University
  • Illinois College
  • Indiana State University
  • Ithaca College
  • Juniata College
  • Kansas State University (scores required for out-of-state applicants)
  • King's College
  • Knox College
  • Lake Forest College
  • Lawrence University
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • Loyola College in Maryland
  • Marist College
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Middlebury College (SAT2 required if SAT1 is not used)
  • Minnesota State University
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • Muhlenberg College
  • Nazareth College
  • New School (scores required for some programs)
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Ohio State University at ATI Wooster, Mansfield, Marion, Newark (scores required for out-of-state applicants)
  • Oklahoma State University, Stillwater
  • Old Dominion University
  • Pitzer College
  • Presbyterian College
  • Providence College
  • Robert Morris University
  • Roger Williams University
  • Rollins College
  • St. John's College (Annapolis and Sante Fe)
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • Sewanee: The University of the South
  • Smith College
  • South Dakota State University
  • State University of New York at Potsdam
  • Stetson University
  • Stonehill College
  • Susquehanna University
  • Temple University
  • Union College
  • University of Alaska at Anchorage, Fairbanks and Southeast
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Arkansas at Fortsmith, Little Rock, Monticello and Pine Bluff
  • University of Idaho at Moscow
  • University of Kansas at Lawrence
  • University of Maine at Augusta, Farmington, Ft. Kent and Presque Isle
  • University of Minnesota at Crookston, Duluth and Morris
  • University of Mississippi
  • University of Montana at Missoula and Western
  • University of Nebraska at Kearney and Lincoln
  • University of Nevada at Las Vegas and Reno
  • University of Texas at Arlington, Brownsville, Dallas, El Paso, Pan American, San Antonio and Tyler
  • Ursinus College
  • Wake Forest University
  • Washington College
  • Washington and Jefferson College
  • Wesleyan University
  • Western Kentucky University
  • Wheaton College (MA)
  • Wittenberg University
  • Whitworth University
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)

When applying to schools, be sure to read their policies carefully. Some state schools on the list do require scores from out-of-state applicants. Other schools don't require scores for admissions, but they do use the scores for awarding academic scholarships.