Low SAT or ACT Scores? Check Out These Test-Optional Colleges

Low Test Scores Don't Need to Ruin Your College Dreams

Testing sheet
SAT test. JC559 / Getty Images

If you got low SAT scores or low ACT scores, or if you simply didn't take the exam in time for application deadlines, realize that hundreds of test-optional colleges do not require standardized test scores as part of their admissions requirements.

Fast Facts: Test-Optional Admissions

  • Over 1,080 colleges are now test-optional.
  • Test-optional admissions does not mean you don't need to submit SAT or ACT scores. Some colleges require scores for scholarships, placement, or NCAA reporting.
  • Some colleges are test-optional only for students who meet certain criteria. Students with low grades or low class rank may need to submit scores.
  • International and home-schooled students sometimes need to submit test scores even if a college is test-optional.

The list below is just a sampling of more than 1,080 four-year colleges that do not require the SAT or ACT. The list includes most of the highly selective schools that don't require scores. To see a complete list, visit the FairTest website. Also be sure to check out our list of 20 Great Colleges for Students with Low SAT Scores.

Colleges don't use test scores for many reasons. Some technical schools, music schools and art schools don't see the ACT and SAT as good measures of the types of skills they require. Other colleges recognize that the SAT and ACT limit their applicant pools and give an unfair advantage to students from schools or families that can afford test prep courses. You will also see from the FairTest list that many schools with strong religious affiliations do not require standardized tests.

Admissions policies change frequently, so check with each school for the latest testing guidelines. Also, realize that some of the schools below are test-optional only for students who meet certain GPA or class rank requirements. Other schools are "test-flexible," so they require some kind of standardized test score, those scores need not be from the ACT or SAT. AP, IB, or SAT Subject Test scores can fulfill the requirement.

Schools that don't require the ACT or SAT for some or all applicants

When applying to schools, be sure to read their policies carefully. Some state schools on the list do require scores from out-of-state applicants. Other schools don't require scores for admissions, but they do use the scores for awarding academic scholarships.