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The 44 Colleges With the Lowest SAT Scores, Ranked


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 current version of the SAT, which is out of 1600.

School Name

25th Percentile SAT Score

75th Percentile SAT Score

Admission Rate
Grambling State University 410 490 43%
University of West Georgia 430 510 59%
Fort Valley State University 430 700 44%
Idaho State University 450 570 99%
Mount Mercy University 500 590 63%
Arkansas Tech University 500 620 90%
Wiley College 640 1020 40%
Central State University 710 880 57%
Bethune-Cookman University 710 880 54%
Lane College 720 860 60%
Jarvis Christian University 720 880 54%
Rust College 730 890 52%
Medgar Evers College (City University of New York) 730 910 100%
Paul Quinn College 730 950 54%
Paine College 740 930 32%
Albany State University 750 900 91%
Wesley College 750 1050 61%
Livingstone College 755 920 37%
Langston University 760 1040 54%
Nebraska Christian College 760 1060 34%
Shaw University 760 935 53%
Pine Manor College 770 970 41%
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania 770 1030 46%
Virginia Union University 780 970 57%
Wilberforce University 780 980 48%
Claflin University 780 1130 41%
Harris-Stowe State University 790 960 56%
Edward Waters University 790 970 61%
Universidad del Este 790 1030 66%
Finlandia University 790 1040 38%
Carolina University 790 1070 36%
Gallaudet University 790 1080 57%
University of Louisiana at Monroe 800 880 72%
LeMoyne-Owen College 800 930 100%
CSU Dominguez Hills 800 990 77%
Bennett College 800 1000 96%
Silver Lake College of the Holy Family 800 1210 50%
Sul Ross State University 805 1020 100%
Johnson C. Smith University 810 980 46%
Kentucky State University 810 990 45%
Chowan University 810 1000 55%
Calumet College of St. Joseph 810 1010 34%
Albertus Magnus College 810 1050 58%
Pontifical College Josephinum 810 1290 92%



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, Pontifical College Josephinum says, "Application for admission to the Pontifical College Josephinum is made only after the individual obtains sponsorship from his diocese or religious community."

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 500 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.

Many other colleges, including prestigious schools like Bryn Mawr, Wake Forest, 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-profit universities 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.


What’s Next?

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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Dora Seigel
About the Author

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.

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