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Full List of 1,000+ Colleges That Don't Require ACT Scores

Posted by Hannah Muniz | Oct 12, 2020 6:00:00 PM

ACT General Info, College Admissions

 

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Applying to college usually means writing some essays, asking for letters of recommendation, and submitting your transcripts. But what about the ACT and SAT? Is the ACT required for college? The answer is, not necessarily!

In this guide, we explain what test-optional colleges are and give you the complete list of 1,000+ colleges that don't require ACT scores from applicants. We also offer a few tips for what to do with these ACT-optional college lists.

Note: for a list of schools temporarily not requiring test scores due to COVID-19, read this article instead. Otherwise, read on to see which schools are always test-optional, test-flexible, and test-blind.

 

Is the ACT Required for College? Not Necessarily

First off, is the ACT required for college in the United States? Or not?

Though most four-year colleges and universities in the United States require ACT or SAT scores for admission, many do not. Colleges that don't require ACT scores are known as "test-optional" schools. This means that you do not have to send in any ACT/SAT scores with your application but may if you want to. In the end, it's your choice whether you submit test scores or not.

A test-optional policy gives you more control over how you present yourself in your college applications. For example, if you didn't do particularly well on the ACT, then you could choose not to submit your scores, thereby preventing them from negatively impacting your chances of getting in.

But not all colleges have the same exact test-optional policy. Below, we look at the various policies schools have regarding optional ACT scores.

 

Test Optional

With this policy, ACT and SAT scores are entirely optional, meaning you can choose whether to send them in. In other words, you get to decide how you want to present yourself to colleges.

For instance, if your ACT scores are on the lower end, you might withhold them and instead focus on strengthening other parts of your application, such as your personal statement. This way your low scores won't count against you in the admissions process.

Here are some examples of popular ACT-optional colleges:

 

Test Flexible

A test-flexible school is a little different from a purely test-optional school. At these schools, you still need to send in test scores; however, you can submit scores from other tests in place of the ACT/SAT. Usually these can be scores from SAT Subject Tests, AP tests, IB tests, and other school-administered exams.

Popular test-flexible schools include the following:

 

Class Rank/GPA Substitution

Some schools, primarily large state universities, will waive the ACT/SAT score requirement only if you meet a certain class rank and/or GPA minimum. You'll also be automatically admitted to that school! But if you do not meet these requirements, you'll have to send in your ACT/SAT scores like everyone else.

Requirements vary depending on the university, but typically you'll need a class rank in at least the top 10% and/or at least a 3.5 unweighted GPA.

Here are some popular schools that offer this substitution policy:

 

Test Blind

The last type of test-optional policy is test blind. With this policy, you are not supposed to submit any ACT/SAT scores. So if you decided to include ACT scores in your application, they would not be considered in the admissions process—even if you got a perfect score!

The only school that has a test-blind policy is Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Here's what Hampshire says about its policy on its official website:

"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. … We are test-blind because we found through our own internal research that in addition to being biased, these standardized tests are poor predictors of success at Hampshire."

As you can see, this is one of the strictest test-optional policies out there—this school really, really doesn't want to see your ACT scores!

 

Now that we've gone over the four different kinds of test-optional policies, let's take a look at some of the best colleges and universities that don't require ACT scores.

 

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350+ Top-Tier Colleges That Don't Require ACT Scores

Below are 350+ top-tier colleges that don't require ACT scores for admission. Some schools are purely test optional, whereas others are test flexible or offer applicants guaranteed admission if they meet a certain minimum class rank and/or GPA requirement.

For these lists, we're defining "top-tier" as any school ranked within the top 250 spots on its respective US News 2020 ranking list. US News sorts schools into several categories, such as National Liberal Arts Colleges, National Universities, Regional Universities North, etc. We kept these categorizations and sorted the schools alphabetically within them.

Skim these lists to see whether there are any ACT-optional colleges that interest you. If you're looking for a particular school, use ctrl + f on your keyboard to search for it.

 

National Liberal Arts Colleges

School Name State
Agnes Scott College GA
Allegheny College PA
Augustana College IL
Austin College TX
Bard College NY
Bates College ME
Beloit College WI
Bennington College VT
Birmingham-Southern College AL
Bowdoin College ME
Bryn Mawr College PA
Bucknell University PA
Colby College ME
College of the Atlantic ME
College of Idaho ID
College of the Holy Cross MA
Colorado College CO
Connecticut College CT
Cornell College IA
Denison University OH
DePauw University IN
Dickinson College PA
Drew University NJ
Earlham College IN
Elizabethtown College PA
Franklin and Marshall College PA
Furman University SC
Gettysburg College PA
Goucher College MD
Guilford College NC
Gustavus Adolphus College MN
Hamilton College "Test Flexible" NY
Hanover College IN
Hartwick College NY
Hendrix College AR
Hobart and William Smith Colleges NY
Hollins University VA
Houghton College NY
Illinois College IL
Juniata College PA
Kalamazoo College MI
Knox College IL
Lake Forest College IL
Lawrence University WI
Lewis & Clark College OR
Linfield College OR
Lycoming College PA
Marlboro College VT
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts MA
Middlebury College "Test Flexible" VT
Monmouth College IL
Moravian College PA
Mount Holyoke College MA
Muhlenberg College PA
Ohio Wesleyan University OH
Pitzer College CA
Presbyterian College SC
Randolph-Macon College VA
Ripon College WI
Roanoke College VA
Sarah Lawrence College NY
Sewanee – University of the South TN
Simpson College IA
Skidmore College NY
Smith College MA
Southwestern University TX
St. Anselm College NH
St. Lawrence University NY
St. John's College MD
St. John's College NM
St. Mary's College IN
St. Michael's College VT
Stonehill College MA
Susquehanna University PA
Sweet Briar College VA
Transylvania University KY
Trinity College CT
Union College NY
University of Puget Sound WA
Ursinus College PA
Warren Wilson College NC
Washington College MD
Washington & Jefferson College PA
Wells College NY
Wesleyan University CT
Wheaton College MA
Whitman College WA
Whittier College CA
Willamette University OR
Wittenberg University OH
Wofford College SC

 

National Universities

School Name State
American University DC
Arizona State University AZ
Azusa Pacific University CA
Ball State University IN
Brandeis University MA
California State University, Fresno CA
Chatham University PA
Clark University MA
Creighton University NE
DePaul University IL
Drake University IA
Drexel University "Test Flexible" PA
Duquesne University PA
George Mason University VA
George Washington University DC
Hampton University VA
Hofstra University NY
Immaculata University PA
Indiana University Bloomington IN
Kansas State University KS
Lesley University MA
Maryville University of St. Louis MO
Marquette University WI
Mississippi State University MS
Montclair State University NJ
New School NY
New York University "Test Flexible" NY
Pace University NY
Quinnipiac University CT
Rowan University NJ
Sacred Heart University CT
Seattle Pacific University WA
Seattle University WA
Simmons University MA
St. John's University NY
Temple University PA
Texas A&M University "Top 10%" TX
Texas Tech University "Top 10%" TX
The Catholic University of America DC
The Sage Colleges NY
University of Arizona AZ
University of Chicago IL
University of Delaware DE
University of Denver CO
University of Hartford CT
University of Houston "Top 10%" TX
University of LaVerne CA
University of Massachusetts Boston MA
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth MA
University of Massachusetts Lowell MA
University of Mississippi MS
University of Nevada, Reno NV
University of New England MA
University of New Hampshire NH
University of Rochester NY
University of San Francisco CA
University of St. Joseph CT
University of Texas at Austin "Top 6%" TX
University of Texas at Dallas "Top 10%" TX
Virginia Commonwealth University VA
Wake Forest University NC
Washington State University "Top 10%" WA
Western New England University MA
Worcester Polytechnic Institute MA

 

Regional Universities North

School Name State
Albertus Magnus College CT
Assumption College MA
Bay Path University MA
Bridgewater State University MA
Bryant University RI
Cabrini University PA
Champlain College VT
College of Saint Rose NY
Daemen College NY
Delaware Valley University PA
DeSales University PA
Eastern Connecticut State University CT
Eastern University PA
Elms College MA
Emerson College MA
Endicott College MA
Fairfield University CT
Fairleigh Dickinson University NJ
Fitchburg State University MA
Framingham State University MA
Hood College MD
Iona College NY
Ithaca College NY
Johnson & Wales University RI
King's College PA
Keuka College NY
La Salle University PA
Lasell College MA
Lebanon Valley College PA
Le Moyne College NY
Loyola University Maryland MD
Manhattanville College NY
Marist College NY
McDaniel College MD
Mercyhurst University PA
Merrimack College MA
Millersville University of Pennsylvania PA
Monroe College NY
Mount St. Mary's University MD
Nazareth College NY
Niagara University NY
Notre Dame of Maryland University MD
Norwich University VT
Point Park University PA
Providence College RI
Plymouth State University NH
Rider University NJ
Roberts Wesleyan College NY
Roger Williams University RI
Saint Joseph's University PA
Saint Peter's University NJ
Salem State University MA
Salisbury University MD
Salve Regina University RI
Seton Hill University PA
Siena College NY
Southern New Hampshire University NH
Springfield College MA
Stockton University NJ
SUNY Potsdam NY
University of Scranton PA
University of New Haven CT
Utica College NY
Vermont Technical College VT
Wagner College NY
Wentworth Institute of Technology MA
William Paterson University NJ
Worcester State University MA

 

Regional Universities South

School Name State
Arkansas Tech University AR
Asbury University KY
Brenau University GA
Christopher Newport University VA
Columbia College SC
Converse College SC
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University FL
Jacksonville University FL
James Madison University VA
King University TN
Lynn University FL
Marymount University VA
Mississippi University for Women MS
Pfeiffer University NC
Queens University of Charlotte NC
Radford University VA
Rollins College FL
Saint Leo University FL
Stetson University FL
St. Thomas University FL
University of Holy Cross LA
University of Mary Washington VA
Virginia State University VA

 

Regional Universities Midwest

School Name State
Augsburg University MN
Augustana University SD
Baldwin-Wallace College OH
Columbia College Chicago IL
Concordia University MN
Dakota State University SD
Drury University MO
Emporia State University KS
Hamline University MN
Lake Erie College OH
McKendree University IL
MidAmerica Nazarene University KS
Nebraska Wesleyan University NE
Northern State University SD
Northwest Missouri State University MO
Ohio Dominican University OH
Robert Morris University IL
Rockhurst University MO
Siena Heights University MI
Southeast Missouri State University MO
St. Mary-of-the-Woods College IN
Tiffin University OH
University of Evansville IN
University of Northwestern--St. Paul MN
Walsh University OH
Wayne State College NE
Western Illinois University IL
William Jewell College MO
Xavier University OH

 

Regional Universities West

School Name State
Alaska Pacific University AK
Cal Poly Pomona CA
California State University, Bakersfield CA
California State University, Channel Islands CA
California State University, Chico CA
California State University, Dominguez Hills CA
California State University, Fullerton CA
California State University, Long Beach CA
California State University, Los Angeles CA
California State University, Monterey Bay CA
California State University, Northridge CA
California State University, Sacramento CA
California State University, San Bernardino CA
California State University, San Marcos CA
California State University, Stanislaus CA
Dominican University of California CA
Eastern Washington University WA
Evergreen State College WA
Hardin-Simmons University TX
Hawaii Pacific University HI
Humboldt State University CA
La Sierra University CA
Midwestern State University TX
Mills College CA
Northwest Nazarene University ID
Oklahoma Wesleyan University OK
Pacific Lutheran University WA
San Jose State University CA
Sonoma State University CA
St. Edward's University TX
St. Martin's University WA
Tarleton State University TX
Texas A&M International University "Top 10%" TX
Texas A&M University – Texarkana TX
University of Alaska Anchorage AK
University of North Texas at Dallas TX
University of St. Thomas TX
University of Texas of the Permian Basin TX
Walla Walla University WA
Weber State University UT
Western Oregon University OR
West Texas A&M University TX
Whitworth University WA
Woodbury University CA

 

Regional Colleges North

School Name State
Bard College at Simon's Rock MA
Cazenovia College NY
Colby-Sawyer College NH
CUNY New York City College of Tech NY
Dean College MA
Elmira College NY
Keene State College NH
Keystone College PA
Landmark College VT
Mount Aloysius College PA
Paul Smith's College NY
Pennsylvania College of Technology PA
St. Francis College NY
SUNY Delhi NY
Unity College ME
University of Maine at Farmington ME
University of Maine at Fort Kent ME
University of Maine at Presque Isle ME
University of Valley Forge PA
Vermont Technical College VT

 

Regional Colleges South

School Name State
Atlanta Metropolitan State College GA
Averett University VA
Belmont Abbey College NC
Brevard College NC
Catawba College NC
Flagler College FL
Florida Memorial University FL
Georgia Gwinnett College GA
High Point University NC
Lees-McRae College NC
Pensacola State College FL
Point University GA
South Florida State College FL
University of the Ozarks AR
Voorhees College SC
Warner University FL
Welch College TN

 

Regional Colleges Midwest

School Name State
Alma College MI
Dickinson State University ND
Dunwoody College of Technology MN
Hiram College OH
Northland College WI
Olivet College MI
Ottawa University KS
University of Minnesota Crookston MN
William Jewell College MO

 

Regional Colleges West

School Name State
Cal Maritime CA
Carroll College MT
Dixie State University UT
East Texas Baptist University TX
Oregon Institute of Technology OR
Southwestern Christian University OK
University of Hawai'i – West O'ahu HI

 

You might have noticed that more liberal arts colleges are test optional compared with national research universities. In recent years, liberal arts colleges have begun to support the idea that test scores are only a single part of your application and therefore do not accurately represent the entirety of your academic potential and skills.

Nevertheless, the majority of prestigious colleges and universities still require ACT or SAT scores. Some examples include all Ivy League colleges, MIT, Stanford, Duke, and the entire University of California system. However, many of these schools are test-optional for students applying for fall 2021 admission, due to COVID-19.

As you research colleges, make sure to look up their ACT/SAT testing policies to see whether you'll need to submit any scores.

 

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Full List of 1,000+ Schools That Don't Require ACT Scores

In total, there are more than 1,000 US-based schools that don't require ACT scores. Click the icon below to download the complete list!

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What to Do With These Test-Optional Lists: 4 Tips

Now that you've seen a complete list of colleges that don't require ACT scores, what can you do with this knowledge? Here are four essential tips.

 

#1: Research Schools' Policies

Every college is different in terms of its standardized testing policies, so it's your responsibility to check the policy of each school you're applying to.

Although these lists can help, you should always make an effort to check college websites directly or call them and ask (if their websites are unclear about whether they require the ACT/SAT or not).

Remember that a college could change its testing policy for the new school year, so don't rely on out-of-date information to tell you what you need and don't need to submit with your application!

 

#2: Take the ACT/SAT to Keep Your Options Open

Even though you might prefer not to take the ACT, it's still a good idea to take it anyway—this will allow you to keep your college options open so that in case you fall in love with a school that requires ACT scores, you'll be good to go. After all, what if you absolutely adored a certain college only to realize it required ACT/SAT scores and now you have barely any time to study for the test?

We generally recommend taking your first ACT at the beginning of your junior year; this way you'll still have plenty of test dates left the rest of your junior year, that coming summer, and the fall of your senior year.

For more test-taking tips, read our guide on how to build an ACT study plan and check out all the most important resources you'll need in our ultimate free ACT study guide.

 

#3: Apply to Several Schools

In addition to taking the ACT, try not to limit yourself to colleges that don't require ACT scores just so you can avoid having to take the test.

The college as a whole—from the quality of its academics and faculty to its location and student life—will be far more important factors to consider as you try to figure out whether that school will be a good fit for you for the next four years of your life.

If you limit yourself to only ACT-optional schools, you're cutting out tons of high-quality private and public institutions that could very well be ideal matches for your educational goals.

 

#4: Put Together a Strong Application

Finally, make sure you're putting together your strongest college application possible, especially if you're applying to schools that don't require ACT scores. This means that you should have a great college essay, glowing letters of recommendation, and a solid GPA.

If you took the ACT anyway and got a high score on it, submitting that score would be a great idea. Only submit scores from other tests, such as SAT Subject Tests, AP exams, and/or IB tests, if you managed to get particularly impressive scores on them. (If you didn't and the tests aren't required for admission, it's totally fine not to submit your scores!)

Ultimately, the choice of submitting your ACT scores can work to your benefit, as long as you know what to include in your application to make you shine as brightly as possible.

 

What's Next?

Thinking of taking the SAT instead of the ACT? Then check out this full list of colleges that don't require the SAT. We've also got a list of 101 colleges and their average SAT scores.

What's a good ACT score for your colleges? Our expert step-by-step guide explains how you can set a personalized ACT goal score based on the schools you're applying to.

Is there a minimum ACT score you need to get into college? The truth is, it all depends on what colleges you're considering. Learn how to figure out what ACT score to aim for and what to do if all your schools are reaches.

 

Want to improve your ACT score by 4+ points? Download our free guide to the top 5 strategies you need in your prep to improve your ACT score dramatically.

Raise Your ACT Score by 4 Points (Free Download)

 

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Hannah Muniz
About the Author

Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.



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