10 Test-Optional Colleges that Don’t Require SAT or ACT

Not a good exam-taker? Freaked out for taking the SAT or ACT? Even on tests a genius may do poorly. Standardized tests are not a definitive ranking of the intelligence or ability of someone as a student, and colleges are starting to notice. More than 150 American colleges and universities are now available as test-optional. So, we’ve compiled a list of stunning colleges that don’t require SAT or ACT. Before jumping to that section, however, let’s address a few reasons why SAT or ACT tests are so crucial to your education, during high school and college, and adversely effect your career prospects.

Colleges that Don’t Require SAT or ACT
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What is SAT?

The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) is an entrance examination that most colleges and universities use to decide on admissions. The SAT is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper test that the college board creates and administers.

The purpose of the SAT is to measure the willingness and ability of a high school student for college, and to provide one common data point for colleges which can be used to evaluate all applicants. In addition to your GPA high school, college admissions officers will review standardized test scores, the classes you took in high school, letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors, extracurricular activities, admissions interviews and personal essays. How important the SAT scores are vary from school to school in the college application process.

Overall, the higher you score on the SAT and/or ACT, the greater the options available to you to attend and pay for college.

What is ACT?

The ACT is a standard test meant to show colleges how completely ready you are for higher education by assessing your reading comprehension, writing conventions and technical thinking and then comparing you to the rest of the high school students taking it.

The exam essentially serves as a nationwide test of admissions to the college (although it is far from being considered by the only factor schools when looking to gain admission).

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Most of the four-year schools require applicants to submit either ACT or SAT scores (they don’t distinguish between the two), which can then account for as much as 50% of the admission decision. An important part of your application is a strong standardized test score.

There are also lots of students who are required by their high school to take the ACT. A number of states use the ACT as a statewide assessment test, so the ACT is taken by every junior in a public school.

Which are the colleges that don’t require SAT or ACT?

Generally, high school students spend their junior and senior years taking either the SAT or ACT, studying long hours in hopes of a high score to boost their chances of admission. While there is no doubt that standardized testing has over the years played a major role in college acceptance, it is certainly not the only factor at stake. Some schools have decided to take a test-optional approach.

Evidently, more and more colleges are becoming test-optional, meaning students are not required to send in their ACT or SAT scores. We selected the highest ranking colleges that don’t require SAT or ACT scores for this list. You will discover in the list below a variety of schools which are test-optional.

Allen University, Columbia, SC

On the first place of colleges that don’t require SAT or ACT comes Allen University from Columbia, South Carolina. Allen University is a private, historically Black university. Allen University has over 600 students and still serves a majority black constituency. The campus is listed as Allen University Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

The university is accredited to offer a bachelor of arts degree and a bachelor of science degree by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. These degrees are awarded in the following divisions:

  • Division of Business Administration
  • Division of Humanities
  • Division of Mathematics and Natural Sciences
  • Division of Religion
  • Division of Social Sciences

Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME

Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine, is a private college of Liberal Arts. The college offers 34 majors and 36 minors, and several joint engineering programs with Columbia, Caltech, Dartmouth College, and Maine University.

The main Bowdoin campus is located near the Androscoggin River and the Bay of Casco. Bowdoin also owns a 118-acre coastal studies center on Orr ‘s Island and a 200-acre scientific field station on Kent Island in the Bay of Fundy, in addition to its campus in Brunswick. In 2019 U.S. ranked the college as the fifth-best college of liberal arts in the country.

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Connecticut College, New London, CT

Connecticut College (Conn College or Conn) is a privately held college of liberal arts in New London, Connecticut. It is a residential, four-year undergraduate institution with almost all of its 1,815 students residing on campus. In response to Wesleyan University closing its doors to women in 1909, the college was founded in 1911 as “Connecticut College for Women;” it shortened its name to “Connecticut College” in 1969, when it started accepting male students.

Academics at the college are organized into 31 academic departments and 7 interdisciplinary programs with 41 traditional majors plus opportunities for self-designed study courses. Starting with the 2020 class, Connecticut College students will be taking part in a new interdisciplinary general education curriculum called Connections.

Excelsior College, Albany, NY

Excelsior College, in Albany, New York, is a private college. The college offers undergraduate and graduate degrees and consists of three schools: the undergraduate school, the graduate school and the nursing school. It mainly serves non-traditional, adult students working through their online programs.

Humphreys University, Stockton, CA

Humphreys University is an independent , non-profit university with two campuses in California, one in Modesto and the other in Stockton, previously known as Humphreys College. Since 1896 it has been in continuous service to the central San Joaquin Valley, giving it the distinction of being the region’s first higher education institution. It awards certificates, and the degrees of associate, bachelor, and master.

Juniata College, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania

Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania is a private Liberal Arts college. Founded as a co-educational school in 1876, it was originally the first college to be started as a center of vocational learning for those who could not afford formal education by members of the Church of the Brethren. Juniata today has approximately 1,600 students from 42 states and territories, and 45 countries.

The college has programs from the natural sciences to the arts, social sciences, and humanities in a variety of areas. However, many students entering Juniata for the strong science programs find they enjoy world culture, international programs, peace studies, politics or a variety of other disciplines. This varied combination enables the students to explore various facets of the world.

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The school has a graduation rate of 79 percent; of these, within four years, 96 percent will. Juniata also has an acceptance rate of 95 percent for all postgraduate programs, including:

  • Chiropractic
  • Dental
  • Law schools
  • Medical
  • Occupational
  • Physical
  • Podiatric

Missouri Technical School, St. Louis, MO

State Technical College of Missouri is a public technical school in Linn, Missouri, and is abbreviated locally as State Tech. In 2018, the college saw their highest enrollment for the 2018-2019 school year at 1,483 students, and in May 2019 there were about 600 graduates.

Northwestern College, Saint Paul, MN

Northwestern College (NWC, and informally Northwest Iowa) is a Christian private college of liberal arts in Orange City, Iowa. It is affiliated with America’s Reformed Church, and enrolls more than 1200 students. In 1882 Northwestern started off as an academy. In 1928 it became a junior college, and in 1961 it became a four year institution.

As of 1953, the Higher Learning Commission has accredited Northwestern. Additionally, their respective accreditation organizations accredit the athletic training, business, education, nursing and social work programs.

Pitzer College, Claremont, CA

Pitzer College, in Claremont, California, is a private residential Liberal arts college. The college is one of the Claremont Colleges, with a curriculum focusing on social sciences, behavioral sciences, international programs, and media studies.

Pitzer offers 41 majors and 22 minors, many of them cross-disciplinary, and at his/her arrival on campus, each student is assigned a faculty advisor. The College expects students to participate actively in the planning of that study course, and has few requirements for distribution. The student/faculty ratio is 10:1, and a hundred percent of Pitzer’s tenure-track faculty is in their field holding a PhD or terminal degree.

Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY

Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, is a private, liberal arts college. Following the Oxford/Cambridge system of one-on-one student-faculty tutorials, the college models its approach to education which is a key component in all fields of study. Sarah Lawrence emphasizes scholarship, especially in the humanities, performing arts, and writing, and attaches great value to independent study.