Not all admissions processes are created equal. One major point of difference among colleges these days is how admissions officers consider your SAT scores. More and more schools are de-emphasizing SAT scores as part of your application with “test optional” and “test flexible” policies. One college has even eliminated SAT scores completely!
There are now over 900 accredited, bachelor-degree granting institutions that have changed their approach to standardized test scores. Keep in mind that the majority of colleges, especially the more prestigious schools, do still require and strongly consider your SAT scores.
Let’s take a look at the different policies and the schools that no longer require applicants to submit their SAT scores for admission.
What Is Test Optional?
A “test optional” policy leaves the decision up to you of whether or not you want to send your SAT scores. SAT optional colleges do not require you to send your scores. Instead, you must decide whether or not your test results are an accurate representation of your academic ability and potential.
Just as with the rest of your application, you can be purposeful in crafting your candidacy to a test optional college. This leaves you with more choice and control over how you best present your strengths to admissions officers.
Some highly ranked SAT optional schools include Bates, Bowdoin, Bryn Mawr, Hofstra, Pitzer, Sarah Lawrence, Smith, University of Iowa, University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest, George Washington University, and Wesleyan. Scroll down to see the full list of colleges that do not require SAT scores.
What Is Test Flexible?
A “test flexible” policy does require you to send test scores, but it may allow for different options in place of the SAT. Some schools may waive the test requirement if you meet a minimum GPA or are applying to a specific program. Other schools will allow you to send AP test scores or SAT Subject Test scores in lieu of the general SAT. Their rationale is that these scores may demonstrate subject mastery and thus reveal your own particular academic interests and motivations.
NYU’s test flexible policy, for example, states the following:
“To be eligible for admission, applicants are expected to submit results from one of the following testing options:
- The SAT Reasoning Test; or
- The ACT with Writing Test; or
- Three SAT Subject Test scores; or
- Three AP exam scores; or
- International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma; or
- Three IB higher-level exam scores if not an IB Diploma candidate; or
- Nationally accredited exam that shows you completed your secondary education.”
Since the specifics of test flexible policies may vary from school to school, you should check with your colleges of interest to make sure you are fulfilling the application requirements. This information should be available on each school’s admission website, but if it’s not, definitely call up an admissions officer and speak to them directly.
You’ll not only get the information you need, but you will also be demonstrating interest and a proactive approach to the college, which could help you stand out among all the other applicants.
Some highly ranked test flexible schools include Colby College, Colorado College, Hamilton College, Middlebury College, and NYU. You'll find more test flexible schools on the full list below.
What Is Test Blind?
Currently, there is only one college that has a “test blind” policy, or does not want you to send any test scores at all. This school is Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Their policy states that they will reject any sent score reports: “Unlike ‘test-optional’ institutions, we will not consider SAT/ACT scores regardless of the score. Even if it’s a perfect score, it will not weigh into our assessment of an applicant.”
As you can see, schools have different approaches to SAT scores and how much they weigh into your application (if at all). Below we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of all the schools not requiring the SAT, as well as a list of top tier test optional and test flexible colleges.
When applying to college, make sure to explore all the different policies for standardized tests.
Top Tier Schools That De-emphasize the SAT
We've listed over 280 of the top colleges and universities that de-emphasize the SAT as of Fall 2017. Some of these are Test Flexible, some are Test Optional, and others have guaranteed admission based on GPA or class rank.
The schools are numbered according to their ranking and region on the US News list of best colleges.
Take a look and see if any schools you're interested in are on this list! Since it's a long list, you can also search directly for a school of interest with the "ctrl + f" function on your keyboard.
National Liberal Arts College
4. Middlebury College (VT) "Test Flexible"
6. Bowdoin College (ME)
12. Colby College (ME) “Test Flexible”
12. Hamilton College (NY) “Test Flexible”
12. Smith College (MA)
21. Wesleyan University (CT)
24. Colorado College (CO) “Test Flexible”
27. Bates College (ME)
31. Bryn Mawr (PA)
32. College of the Holy Cross (MA)
32. Pitzer College (CA)
36. Mount Holyoke College (MA)
38. Skidmore College (NY)
38. Trinity College (CT)
38. Union College (NY)
41. Dickinson College (PA)
41. Whitman College (WA)
47. Franklin and Marshall College (PA)
47. Sewanee -- University of the South (TN)
49. Bard College (NY)
50. Connecticut College (CT)
51. Denison University (OH)
51. Gettysburg College (PA)
53. Furman University (SC)
53. St. John's College (MD)
53. St. Lawrence University (NY)
59. Sarah Lawrence College (NY)
60. Lawrence University (WI)
62. Beloit College (WI)
65. Hobart and William Smith Colleges (NY)
65. Muhlenberg College (PA)
68. Earlham College (IN)
68. Kalamazoo College (MI)
70. Agnes Scott College (GA)
70. University of Puget Sound (WA)
72. Willamette University (OR)
77. Allegheny College (PA)
77. Gustavus Adolphus (MN)
77. Knox College (IL)
77. Wheaton College (MA)
77. Wofford College (SC)
83. College of the Atlantic (ME)
83. St. John's College (NM)
83. Transylvania University (KY)
87. Lewis and Clark (OR)
90. Bennington College (VT)
90. Cornell College (IA)
95. Ohio Wesleyan University (OH)
95. Ursinus College (PA)
99. Augustana College (IL)
99. St. Michael's College (VT)
99. Washington College (MD)
99. Washington & Jefferson College (PA)
105. Austin College (TX)
108. Drew University (NJ)
108. Juniata College (PA)
108. Lake Forest College (IL)
108. Stonehill College (MA)
113. Goucher College (MD)
113. Ripon College (WI)
115. Elizabethtown College (PA)
115. St. Anselm College (NH)
119. Presbyterian College (SC)
122. Siena College (NY)
128. Illinois College (IL)
128. Marlboro College (VT)
128. McDaniel College (MD)
132. Birmingham-Southern College (AL)
132. Susquehanna University (PA)
132. Whittier College (CA)
140. Roanoke College (VA)
144. Bard College at Simon's Rock (MA)
144. Houghton College
146. Guilford College (NC)
149. Doane University (NB)
149. Hiram College (OH)
154. Carthage College (WI)
154. Lycoming College (PA)
154. William Jewell College (MO)
154. Wittenberg University (OH)
159. Hartwick College (NY)
159. Warren Wilson College (NC)
168. College of Idaho (ID)
174. Elmira College (NY)
174. Northland College (WI)
174. Wells College (NY)
27. Wake Forest University (NC)
32. University of Rochester (NY) “Test Flexible”
34. Brandeis University (MA)
36. New York University (NY) “Test Flexible”
56. Univ. of Texas – Austin (TX) “Top 8%”
56. George Washington University (DC)
60. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA)
74. Texas A&M University (TX) "Top 10%"
74. American University (DC)
74. Clark University (MA)
79. University of Delaware (DE)
96. Drexel University (PA) "Test Flexible"
118. Temple University (PA)
124. DePaul University (IL)
124. Duquesne University (PA)
124. The Catholic University of America (DC)
124. University of Arizona (AZ)
129. Arizona State University (AZ)
129. New School (NY)
133. Hofstra University (NY)
135. Kansas State University (KS)
135. University of Mississippi (MS)
143. George Mason University (VA)
143. Washington State University (WA) "Top 10%"
146. Univ. Texas--Dallas (TX) "Top 10%"
152. Immaculata University (PA)
152. University of Massachusetts--Lowell (MA)
164. Maryville University of St. Louis (MO)
164. St. John's University (NY)
164. Virginia Commonwealth University (VA)
176. Mississippi State University (MS)
176. Montclair State University (NJ)
197. University of Nevada – Reno (NV)
202. California State. University - Fullerton (CA)
202. University of Alaska - Fairbanks (AK)
202. University of South Dakota (SD)
210. Old Dominion University (VA)
220. California State University - Fresno (CA)
220. University of Southern Mississippi (MS)
Regional Universities – North
1. Providence College (RI)
2. Fairfield University (CT)
3. Loyola University (MD)
6. Ithaca College (NY)
6. University of Scranton (PA)
8. Emerson College (MA)
9. Marist College (NY)
9. Bryant College (RI)
11. Quinnipiac University (CT)
11. Saint Joseph's University (PA)
16. Le Moyne College (NY)
20. Rowan University (NJ)
23. Assumption College (MA)
23. Lebanon Valley College (PA)
32. Salve Regina University (RI)
35. Roger Williams University (RI)
35. Wagner College (NY)
38. Hood College (MD)
38. Nazareth College (NY)
44. Sacred Heart University (CT)
51. Endicott College (MA)
57. King's College (PA)
57. Merrimack College (MA)
61. DeSales University (PA)
61. Mercyhurst University (PA)
67. College of Saint Rose (NY)
67. Johnson and Wales University (RI)
67. Salisbury University (MD)
72. Chatham University (PA)
80. Norwich University (VT)
85. Eastern Connecticut State University (CT)
85. The Sage Colleges (NY)
85. Wheelock College (MA)
91. University of Saint Joseph (CT)
95. Millersville University of Pennsylvania (PA)
95. SUNY Potsdam (NY)
99. Saint Peter's University (NJ)
101. Southern New Hampshire University (NH)
104. Plymouth State University (NH)
110. Point Park University (PA)
114. Western Connecticut State University (CT)
122. Bay Path University (MA)
122. Utica College (NY)
131. Cabrini University (PA)
131. East Stroudsburg University (PA)
131. Keuka College (NY)
137. Rhode Island College (RI)
137. St. Joseph's College (ME)
Regional Universities - Midwest
3. Drake University (IA)
8. University of Evansville (IN)
15. Baldwin-Wallace College (OH)
28. Saint Joseph's College (IN)
49. Walsh University (OH)
74. Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OK)
94. Northwest Missouri State University (MO)
94. Robert Morris University (IL)
94. Wayne State College (NE)
108. Emporia State University (KS)
115. Lake Erie College (OH)
115. MidAmerica Nazarene University (KS)
Regional Universities -- South
2. Rollins College (FL)
5. Stetson University (FL)
12. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (FL)
14. Christopher Newport University (VA)
16. University of Mary Washington (VA)
18. Hampton University (VA)
43. Marymount University (VA)
43. Mississippi University for Women (MS)
47. Radford University (VA)
52. Brenau University (GA)
58. St. Thomas University (FL)
62. Jacksonville University (FL)
62. St. Leo University (FL)
84. Pfeiffer University (NC)
91. King University (TN)
91. Lynn University (FL)
Regional Universities - West
5. Mills College (CA)
11. Whitworth University (WA)
31. California State Polytechnic - Pomona (CA)
33. San Jose State University (CA)
35. California State Univ. - Long Beach (CA)
37. California State Univ. - Chico (CA)
41. Sonoma State University (CA)
44. Northwest Nazarene University (ID)
50. La Sierra University (CA)
52. Humboldt State University (CA)
52. Walla Walla University (WA)
58. California State Univ. - Monterey Bay (CA)
58. Woodbury University (CA)
61. California State Univ. - Los Angeles (CA)
61. California State Univ. - San Bernardino (CA)
61. California State Univ. Stanislaus (CA)
61. Eastern Washington University (WA)
61. Hawaii Pacific University (HI)
67. Western Oregon University (OR)
68. California State Univ.--Northridge (CA)
73. University of Alaska - Anchorage (AK)
76. Weber State University (UT)
82. California State Univ. - Channel Islands (CA)
82. California State Univ. - Sacramento (CA)
82. Midwestern State University (TX)
88. California State Univ. - San Marcos (CA)
88. University of Texas--Tyler (TX)
91. West Texas A&M University (TX)
93. University of Texas - Permian Basin (TX)
Regional Colleges - North
7. University of Maine - Farmington (ME)
8. Cazenovia College (NY)
13. Pennsylvania College of Technology (PA)
13. Wilson College (PA)
15. Vermont Technical College (VT)
15. Unity College (ME)
19. SUNY College of Technology - Delhi (NY)
22. Concordia College (NY)
23. University of Maine - Fort Kent (ME)
26. Monroe College (NY)
27. Mount Ida College (MA)
27. University of Maine - Presque Isle (ME)
29. Keystone College (PA)
31. Paul Smith's College (NY)
33. University of Valley Forge (PA)
Regional Colleges - Midwest
43. Dickinson State University (ND)
46. Olivet College (MI)
47. Ottawa University (KS)
48. Midland University (NB)
50. Dunwoody College of Technology (MN).
56. Bismarck State College (ND)
Regional Colleges - South
1. High Point University (SC)
3. University of the Ozarks (AR)
4. Catawba College (NC)
9. Bennett College (NC)
10. Belmont Abbey College (NC)
22. Brevard College (NC)
23. Florida Memorial University (FL)
23. Keiser University (FL)
23. Lees-McRae College (NC)
42. Warner University (FL)
45. Point University (GA)
52. Chipola College (FL)
52. Georgia Gwinnett College (GA)
56. University of Holy Cross (LA)
Regional Colleges - West
3. Oregon Institute of Technology (OR)
10. California Maritime Academy (CA)
10. East Texas Baptist University (TX)
17. St. Gregory's University (OK)
18. Marymount California University (CA)
22. Southwestern Christian University (OK)
23. Lewis-Clark State University (ID)
31. University of Houston - Downtown (TX)
You might notice that liberal arts schools are more likely to have a test optional policy than a national university. Liberal arts schools have increasingly taken the position that your test scores are only one component of your application and don't represent the sum of your entire education.
However, most prestigious universities (the top 50 national universities) still require the SAT. This includes Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton; University of California system schools like Berkeley and UCLA; and many other top private schools.
It’s important to know the SAT policies of schools long before you actually apply, since taking and prepping for the SAT can begin over a year in advance of your deadlines. Now that you’re aware of these different policies, your first course of action is to start exploring.
Comprehensive List of Schools That De-Emphasize the SAT
Beyond the top schools above, we've also prepared a comprehensive document listing all schools that de-emphasize the SAT. Click the icon below to see the complete list.
What You Should Do With This Information
Now that you have a sense of all the schools with test optional or text flexible admissions policies, what should you do next? Consider these four tips for moving forward in the college application process.
#1: Do Your Own Fact Checking
Because admissions processes are complex and unique to each school, it falls on you to thoroughly explore the policies of all the colleges you are interested in. As mentioned above, if you can’t find a detailed explanation on the college’s website, don’t hesitate to call an admissions officer and ask them directly. This is also a question you could bring to your college visits, as long as you answer it early enough to have time for test prep.
#2: Take the SAT or ACT to Keep Your Options Open
Your college list is almost certainly going to change throughout junior and even senior year. Don’t limit yourself prematurely by ruling out the SAT, since you want to keep your options open. You wouldn’t want to fall in love with a college only to discover you don’t have time to take the SAT or prep for it effectively, and thus can’t meet the college’s admission requirements.
Planning and prepping should begin at least by early junior year, and it’s very unlikely that you’ll have your college list finalized by then. As you plan out your schedule, visit our resources on when you should start prepping for the SAT and what the best test dates are for you.
#3: Consider Applying Broadly to Many Schools
On a similar note, it wouldn’t be wise to limit yourself to certain schools just to avoid taking the SAT. The fit of the college, in terms of its academics, extracurricular opportunities, campus, and culture, are much more important factors in determining where you will be spending the four years of your life after high school.
Even if you feel anxious about the SAT, the skills of applied discipline and personal growth that you develop preparing will be useful to you throughout your academic and professional career.
#4: Analyze the Strength of Your Application
If you are applying to colleges that do not require the SAT or have test flexible options, it will help you to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Have you achieved (or will you be able to achieve) a strong SAT score, or is your academic ability better represented through AP and Subject Tests? Will the scores strengthen your overall application, or do they not truly represent your skills and abilities? Where do you shine the brightest?
While SAT optional policies gives you yet another thing to think about as you apply, ultimately having that increased choice can only work in your benefit. By making an informed and intentional decision, you have the power to shape the story you tell to admissions officers.
Even among universities that do require SAT scores, there’s some variation in exactly how they look at your scores. Check out the full list of colleges who superscore the SAT and learn how this information may completely transform your approach to test prep.
Exploring your standardized testing options? Many colleges also superscore the ACT. Click here for the full list and for strategies on how to get your best scores.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points? We've written a guide about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
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