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 800 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, 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 230 of the top colleges and universities that de-emphasize the SAT as of fall 2016. 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||National Universities||Regional Universities -- South|
|4. Middlebury College (VT) "Test Flexible"||27. Wake Forest University (NC)||2. Rollins College (FL)|
|6. Bowdoin College (ME)||32. University of Rochester (NY) “Test Flexible”||5. Stetson University (FL)|
|12. Colby College (ME) “Test Flexible”||34. Brandeis University (MA)||12. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (FL)|
|12. Hamilton College (NY) “Test Flexible”||36. New York University (NY) “Test Flexible”||14. Christopher Newport University (VA)|
|12. Smith College (MA)||56. Univ. of Texas – Austin (TX) “Top 8%”||16. University of Mary Washington (VA)|
|21. Wesleyan University (CT)||56. George Washington University (DC)||18. Hampton University (VA)|
|24. Colorado College (CO) “Test Flexible”||60. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA)||43. Marymount University (VA)|
|27. Bates College (ME)||74. Texas A&M University (TX)||43. Mississippi University for Women (MS)|
|31. Bryn Mawr (PA)||74. American University (DC)||47. Radford University (VA)|
|32. College of the Holy Cross (MA)||79. University of Delaware (DE)||52. Brenau University (GA)|
|32. Pitzer College (CA)||96. Drexel University (PA) "Test Flexible"||58. St. Thomas University (FL)|
|36. Mount Holyoke College (MA)||118. Temple University (PA)||62. Jacksonville University (FL)|
|38. Skidmore College (NY)||124. DePaul University (IL)||62. St. Leo University (FL)|
|38. Trinity College (CT)||124. Duquesne University (PA)||91. King University (TN)|
|38. Union College (NY)||124. The Catholic University of America (DC)||91. Lynn University (FL)|
|41. Dickinson College (PA)||124. University of Arizona (AZ)||Regional Universities - West|
|41. Whitman College (WA)||129. Arizona State University (AZ)||5. Mills College (CA)|
|47. Franklin and Marshall College (PA)||129. New School (NY)||11. Whitworth University (WA)|
|47. Sewanee -- Univeristy of the South (TN)||133. Hofstra University (NY)||31. California State Polytechnic - Pomona (CA)|
|49. Bard College (NY)||135. Kansas State University (KS)||33. San Jose State University (CA)|
|50. Connecticut College (CT)||135. University of Mississippi (MS)||35. California State Univ. - Long Beach (CA)|
|51. Denison University (OH)||194. University of Nevada – Reno (NV||37. California State Univ. - Chico (CA)|
|51. Gettysburg College (PA)||202. California State. University - Fullerton (CA)||41. Sonoma State University (CA)|
|53. Furman University (SC)||202. University of Alaska - Fairbanks (AK)||44. Northwest Nazarene University (ID)|
|53. St. John's College (MD)||210. Old Dominion University (VA)||50. La Sierra University (CA)|
|53. St. Lawrence University (NY)||220. California State University - Fresno (CA)||52. Humboldt State University (CA)|
|53. Sarah Lawrence College (NY)||Regional Universities – North||52. Walla Walla University (WA)|
|60. Lawrence University (WI)||1. Providence College (RI)||58. California State Univ. - Monterey Bay (CA)|
|62. Beloit College (WI)||2. Fairfield University (CT)||61. California State Univ. - Los Angeles (CA)|
|65. Hobart and William Smith Colleges (NY)||3. Loyola University (MD)||61. California State Univ. - San Bernadino (CA)|
|65. Muhlenberg College (PA)||6. Ithaca College (NY)||61. California State Univ. Stanislaus (CA)|
|68. Earlham College (IN)||9. Marist College (NY)||61. Eastern Washington University (WA)|
|68. Kalamazoo College (MI)||11. Quinnipiac University (CT)||61. Hawaii Pacifici University (WA)|
|70. Agnes Scott College (GA)||16. Le Moyne College (NY)||67. Western Oregon University (OR)|
|70. University of Puget Sound (WA)||20. Rowan University (NJ)||73. University of Alaska - Anchorage (AK)|
|72. Willamette University (OR)||23. Assumption College (MA)||76. Weber State University (UT)|
|77. Allegheny College (PA)||23. Lebanon Valley College (PA)||82. California State Univ. - Channel Islands (CA)|
|77. Gustavus Adolphus (MN)||32. Salve Regina University (RI)||82. California State Univ. - Sacrmaneto (CA)|
|77. Knox College (IL)||35. Roger Williams University (RI)||82. Midwestern State University (TX)|
|77. Wheaton College (MA)||35. Wagner College (NY)||88. California State Univ. - San Marcos (CA)|
|83. College of the Atlantic (ME)||38. Hood College (MD)||91. West Texas A&M University (TX)|
|83. St. John's College (NM)||38. Nazareth College (NY)||93. University of Texas - Permian Basin (TX)|
|83. Transylvania University (KY)||44. Sacred Heart University (CT)||Regional Colleges - North|
|87. Lewis and Clark (OR)||51. Endicott College (MA)||7. University of Maine - Farmington (ME)|
|90. Bennington College (VT)||57. King's College (PA)||8. Cazanovia College (NY)|
|90. Cornell College (IA)||57. Merrimack College (MA)||13. Pennsylvania College of Technology (PA)|
|95. Ohio Wesleyan University (OH)||61. DeSales University (PA)||13. Wilson College (PA)|
|95. Ursinus College (PA)||61. Mercyhurst University (PA)||15. Vermont Technical College (VT)|
|99. Augustana College (IL)||67. College of Saint Rose (NY)||19. SUNY College of Technology - Delhi (NY)|
|99. St. Michael's College (VT)||67. Johnson and Wales University (RI)||22. Concorida College (NY)|
|99. Washington College (MD)||67. Salisbury University (MD)||23. University of Maine - Fort Kent (ME)|
|99. Washington & Jefferson College (PA)||72. Chatham University (PA)||26. Monroe College (NY)|
|108. Drew University (NJ)||80. Norwich University (VT)||27. Mount Ida College (MA)|
|108. Juniata College (PA)||85. Eastern Connecticut State University (CT)||27. University of Maine - Presque Isle (ME)|
|108. Lake Forest College (IL)||85. The Sage Colleges (NY)||29. Keystone College (PA)|
|108. Stonehill College (MA)||85. Wheelock College (MA)||31. Paul Smith's College (NY)|
|113. Goucher College (MD)||91. University of Saint Joseph (CT)||Regional Colleges - Midwest|
|113. Ripon College (WI)||95. SUNY Potsdam (NY)||43. Dickinson State University (ND)|
|115. Elizabethtown College (PA)||99. Saint Peter's University (NJ)||46. Olivet College (MI)|
|115. St. Anselm College (NH)||101. Southern New Hampshire University (NH)||47. Ottawa University (KS)|
|119. Presbyterian College (SC)||104. Plymouth State University (NH)||48. Midland University (NB)|
|122. Siena College (NY)||110. Point Park University (PA)||50. Dunwoody College of Technology (MN).|
|128. Illinois College (IL)||114. Western Connecticut State University (CT)||Regional Colleges - South|
|128. Marlboro College (VT)||122. Bay Path University (MA)||4. Catawba College (NC)|
|128. McDaniel College (MD)||122. Utica College (NY)||9. Bennett College (NC)|
|132. Birmingham-Southern College (AL)||131. Cabrini University (PA)||10. Belmont Abbey College (NC)|
|132. Whittier College (CA)||131. East Stroudsburg University (PA)||22. Brevard College (NC)|
|140. Roanoke College (VA)||131. Keuka College (NY)||23. Florida Memorial University (FL)|
|144. Bard College at Simon's Rock (MA)||137. Rhode Island College (RI)||23. Keiser University (FL)|
|146. Guilford College (NC)||137. St. Joseph's College (ME)||32. Everglades University (FL)|
|149. Hiram College (OH)||Regional Universities - Midwest||52. Chipola College (FL)|
|154. Carthage College (WI)||3. Drake University (IA)||52. Georgia Gwinnett College (GA)|
|154. William Jewell College (MO)||15. Baldwin-Wallace College (OH)||56. University of Holy Cross (LA)|
|154. Wittenberg University (OH)||28. Saint Joseph's College (IN)||Regional Colleges - West|
|159. Hartwick College (NY)||49. Walsh University (OH)||3. Oregon Institute of Technology (OR)|
|168. College of Idaho (ID)||74. Oklahoma Wesleyan University (OK)||10. East Texas Baptist University (TX)|
|174. Elmira College (NY)||94. Northwest Missouri State University (MO)||17. St. Gregory's University (OK)|
|174. Northland College (WI)||94. Robert Morris University (IL)||18. Marymount California University (CA)|
|174. Wells College (NY)||94. Wayne State College (NE)||22. Southwestern Christian University (OK)|
|108. Emporia State University (KS)||31. University of Houston - Downtown (TX)|
|115. Lake Erie College (OH)|
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 requires 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:
Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.