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Do You Need SAT Scores to Transfer Colleges?


Determining all the different requirements for transferring colleges can be a huge hassle. One of the most common questions students have is whether they need to submit SAT scores to apply as transfer students.

There's no single answer to this question, but this guide will explain some common policies about SAT scores for transfer applicants. It'll also go over how to determine whether you need to submit SAT scores and how much attention schools pay to these scores when they also have your grades from another college.


Do You Need to Submit SAT Scores as a Transfer Applicant?

As I touched on above, the answer to this question really depends on the school you're applying to. Some schools don't require SAT scores for any transfer students, some only want standardized test results from students who haven't completed a minimum number of credits, and some ask for test scores from all applicants.

In general, very selective schools and small liberal arts colleges are more likely to require test scores, while bigger state universities are more likely to waive the requirement.

Also, if you've been out of high school for more than five years or if taking the SAT represents an undue financial burden, most schools will waive any SAT requirements.

The following chart details the transfer applicant test score requirements for a range of schools to give you a sense of the types of policies you might encounter. Schools are listed alphabetically and all credits are in semesters.

School Requires SAT? Exceptions / Notes
CU Boulder No* Not required, but you can submit scores if you want them taken into consideration when reviewing your application.
Dartmouth Yes If you submitted ACT/SAT scores to your previous program, you must also submit them with your transfer application. If you didn't take standardized tests for your first-year admissions process, if your scores are more than five years old, or if taking the SAT/ACT would be a hardship, you may submit testing waiver. 
Georgetown Yes Exempt if you graduated from high school more than five years before you intend to transfer or if you are unable to take the test due to COVID-19.
Harvard No* Will consider applications without test scores between 2022-2026 due to COVID-19. However, submitting test scores is still strongly recommended. 
Middlebury No* Test-optional for all students.
University of California No Not required. 
University of Illinois No* Exempt if you've completed 30 college semester hours. If you have not completed 30 hours or more, submitting test scores is optional. 
University of Washington No* Not required. However, students have the option to submit their test scores, although there is no advantage or disadvantage to doing so.
USC No Not required.
UT Austin No Not required. 

*Indicates test optional policy. 


Obviously, this chart is far from comprehensive. Since, as you can see, testing policies vary quite a bit, you'll need to find out whether the schools you're applying to require transfer applicants to submit SAT scores.

Start by checking the section of the school's website for transfer applicants. Some schools have a specific page about standardized test scores. If you can't find anything on these pages, look at the application checklist or FAQ pages.

If you're really struggling to find any information on test scores for transfer applicants, search on Google for "[School Name] transfer SAT scores." You might have to try a couple of the links, but usually this approach will eventually get you to the page you need.

If you're transferring from a community college, keep in mind that your current school might have a guaranteed admission agreement with the state university. These programs often don't require test scores from transfer applicants (but sometimes do).

Finally, you can always call or email the admissions office at the school if you have questions. After all, they're there to help!


How Important Are SAT Scores for Transfer Students?

Most colleges weight SAT scores less heavily for transfer applicants than they do for freshmen since transfer students already have proof of their ability to succeed in college: their transcript.

"If a student is transferring after one semester in college or a year, schools usually want the SAT and high school GPA, but the further away from high school, the less schools rely on them," college counselor Deborah Shames told US News (bold emphasis mine).

There are definitely some exceptions, however. Very selective schools tend to care more about test scores than less selective colleges do. You're also likely to be judged more on your SAT scores if your grades aren't that impressive.

If you're concerned about your SAT scores, see whether the school you're interested in offers a transfer student profile. This will list the middle 50% range of ACT and SAT scores for transfer students. (As an example, check out Georgetown's.)

If your score is toward the high end of that range (or above), you're set. If you're in the lower end (or below), you might want to consider putting in some focused prep time and retaking the SAT.


What's Next?

If you have more questions about transferring colleges, read our complete guide to the transfer process.

Thinking about transferring but not sure what school you want to go to? Use these college search sites to find the school that's right for you.

Or maybe you need help with another part of your college application, such as writing about your extracurriculars or asking for recommendation letters from teachers.



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Alex Heimbach
About the Author

Alex is an experienced tutor and writer. Over the past five years, she has worked with almost a hundred students and written about pop culture for a wide range of publications. She graduated with honors from University of Chicago, receiving a BA in English and Anthropology, and then went on to earn an MA at NYU in Cultural Reporting and Criticism. In high school, she was a National Merit Scholar, took 12 AP tests and scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and ACT.

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