Applying to college is a nerve-wracking process, but have no fear, if you want to go to college even with a low SAT score, there is most likely a school for you!
In this article, I'll list the colleges with the lowest 25th percentile SAT scores for their admitted students. The 25th percentile SAT score means that 25% of admitted students to that university scored at or below that number; the 75th percentile SAT score means that 75% of admitted students scored at or below that score (25% scored higher). I'll also explain why their low SAT criterion doesn’t necessarily mean the university is bad.
Schools Listed in Ascending Order of 25th/75th Percentile with Admission Rate
I compiled this comprehensive list through online research. I chose to list it in ascending order by 25th percentile score (rather than the 75th percentile score) so that you could see the lowest scores allowed for admission to these universities. These scores are from data for the old SAT, however, they are all out of 1600 as many schools did not report the Writing Section. I converted the ones that did report Writing section to the 1600 scale so that I could compare all schools on a level playing field:
Why Do These Colleges Have Low SAT Scores for Admits? Is It a Bad Thing?
There are many reasons these schools may have lower SAT score requirements. Many of the schools on this list are specialty schools, such as religious or art schools. These specialty schools often prioritize other admission criteria, such as artistic talent or religious faith, over the SAT.
For example, Trinity College Florida says, "We seek applications from students who are personally committed to Jesus Christ and express a desire to study in a Christian college environment. Prospective students should show potential for academic success and evidence of outstanding Christian character."
In a particularly unique example, Gallaudet University prioritizes the education of deaf and hard-of-hearing students, although select hearing students who know ASL may be admitted.
You may notice that a lot of these schools have a large gap between the 25th to 75th percentile (some nearly as wide as 400 points). Students with scores near the 25th percentile may be admitted for special reasons such as being the child of a significant donor, a legacy, an athlete, or an exceptional talent (such as a world class pianist).
Another possible explanation for the wide range of scores is that since most of these schools have such high admissions rate, they need to accept a wider range of students to fill up their classes. Some of these schools take almost every student who applies and, thus, have wider ranges of scores.
It's not necessarily a bad thing that these schools have lower SAT requirements. It may simply mean that the school is prioritizing other admissions criteria or that the school is opening their school to a wider range of students.
A lot of other colleges, including prestigious schools like Bryn Mawr, Bard, and George Washington University, are no longer requiring the SAT for admission. This decision doesn't mean that these aren't excellent colleges; they just no longer think the SAT is the best criteria for admission to their university.
However, some of the schools on the list above are not very academically rigorous. If you're looking for an intellectually challenging school, you may want to look elsewhere.
Even worse, there are schools out there that simply exist to make money, and innocent students end up stuck with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. While for-profit schools are usually the worst offenders, some non-profits also have lower education quality and leave students with few job prospects after graduation.
Be wary and do your research when considering where to apply to college. When selecting colleges to apply to, you should instead consider whether the college is your best fit, asking questions such as:
- Does it have the major you want to pursue? Have students in your major ended up with careers in their chosen field?
- Is it in a big or small town?
- What is the student body size?
- What percentage of students are working or attending graduate school after graduation? How many are unemployed?
To figure out what school is right for you, check out our guide to choosing a college.
Trying to raise your SAT score? Check out our ultimate study guide.
Not sure where you want to go to college? Check out our guide to finding your target school.
Thinking about getting a job while in high school? Check out our guide to the 8 best jobs for teens and learn how to find yours!
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As an SAT/ACT tutor, Dora has guided many students to test prep success. She loves watching students succeed and is committed to helping you get there. Dora received a full-tuition merit based scholarship to University of Southern California. She graduated magna cum laude and scored in the 99th percentile on the ACT. She is also passionate about acting, writing, and photography.