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Colleges With the Lowest SAT Scores, Ranked

Posted by Dora Seigel | Nov 1, 2018 4:30:00 PM

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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
Wiley College 600 1020 40%
Jarvis Christian 720 890 54%
Shaw University 730 900 60%
Rust College 740 870 16%
Livingstone College 750 930 72%
Central State University 760 900 39%
Edward Waters College 760 920 23%
Voorhees 770 (average)   50%
Paine College 770 950 44%
Huston-Tillotson University 770 960 46%
Chowan University 780 940  62%
CUNY-Medgar Evers 780 960 91%
Pine Manor College 780 970 69%
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania 780 1020 85%
Virginia Union 800 920 83%
Bethune-Cookman 800 960 54%
Gallaudet University 800 990 62%
College of St Elizabeth 800 1000 63%
Trinity Baptist College 800 1090 Unknown
Texas Southern University 810 980  51%
Kentucky State University 810 1000 38%
Wesley College 810 1030 63%
Clark Atlanta University 820 1010 52%
Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College 820 1030 45%
Sul Ross State University 830 1010 80%
Paul Quinn College 830 1020  89%
Alabama State University 840 1030 48%
SUNY Cobleskill 840 1070 89%
Calumet College of St Joseph 850 1100 35%
Virginia State University 850  1020 77%
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 860 1070 46%
Post University 860 1110 47%
Trinity College of Florida 870 1050 74%
Northern State University 870 1180 83%
Texas A&M - Kingsville 910 1110 82%
Kentucky Christian University 910 1140 48%
Albertus Magnus 950 1050 67%
North Park University 1020 1220 52%
Marietta College 1030 1270 72%
University of Louisiana at Monroe 1030 1310 94%



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, 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-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


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!


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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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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