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Colleges With the Lowest SAT Scores, Ranked

Posted by Dora Seigel | Sep 20, 2015 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 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:

School Name 25th Percentile SAT Score 75th Percentile SAT Score Admission Rate
Wiley College 480 970 40%
Gallaudet University 593 930 65%
Rust College 630 800 16%
Edward Waters College 640 850  23%
Jarvis Christian 643 858 100%
Shaw University 650 820 61%
Livingstone College 660 850 72%
Pine Manor College 660 860 64%
Cheyney University of Pennsylvania 670 850 88%
Virginia Union 670 820 83%
Kentucky State University 673 926 38%
Paine College 680 870 44%
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff 680 930 30%
Voorhees 680 (average)   51%
CUNY-Medgar Evers 690 860 100%
Huston-Tillotson University 700 870 46%
Trinity Baptist College 700 1000 Unknown
Chowan University 710 890  58%
Trinity College of Florida 710 900 95%
Paul Quinn College 720 890  89%
Wesley College 720 945 63%
Bethune-Cookman 720 900 67%
Central State University 730 920 33%
Post University 730 940 13%
Virginia State University 740   900 80%
Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College 745 975  45%
College of St Elizabeth 748 960 48%
Texas Southern University 750 920  45%
Sul Ross State University 750 930  54%
Alabama State University 750 978 54%
SUNY Cobbleskill 760 1010 73%
Clark Atlanta University 770 940 57%
Kentucky Christian University 780 1105  51%
Calumet College of St Joseph 780 940 36%
Northern State University 790 1120 93%
Texas A&M - Kingsville 790 1110 88%
Albertus Magnus 810 970 68%
North Park University 935 1168 52%
University of Louisiana at Monroe 940 1220 77%
Marietta College 970 1220 64%



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


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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