Is Cornell Test Optional?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young man writing an exam in a desk.

Is Cornell Test Optional?

Is Cornell test optional? Undergraduate applicants to Cornell who submit their applications during either of the next two admissions cycles will not be required to submit their test scores.

In September of 2021, the undergraduate admissions office announced that the University would waive the SAT and ACT requirements for first-year applicants beginning in the Fall of 2023 and Fall of 2024. This decision was made in response to ongoing COVID-19 risks. The SAT and/or ACT test requirement previously in place for applicants to Cornell in the years 2022, 2023, and 2024 has been removed.

As a result of the pandemic emergency caused by SARS-COV-2, numerous SAT and ACT testing sessions have been canceled. As a result of this exceptional circumstance, prospective students who wish to enroll at Cornell University beginning in August 2022 may submit their applications without including the results of the ACT or SAT exams in their supporting documentation. This will be the case during both the Early Decision round of review and the Regular Decision round.

College consultant taking to two people.

Since Cornell is adopting a test optional policy, do not feel that you need to take exams unless you can take the exam locally, close to where you live, and you feel safe doing so. This advice applies to all applicants for current and future terms. Hence, Cornell will consider your application even if you have not taken standardized tests.

So, why is Cornell test optional? this is to ensure that you always follow the local, state, and national COVID-19 guidelines at all times for your health and safety. After becoming the first university in the Ivy League to do away with SAT and ACT requirements for first-year applicants in any of Cornell’s seven colleges in April 2020, this policy is a direct result of that decision.

In general, Cornell does not intend to implement a test optional admission policy in the long term for applicants who have already taken the ACT or SAT, or who have the opportunity to do so. Cornell has anticipated, as appears to be the case at test-optional colleges and universities, that a large number of students who will have had reasonable and uninterrupted opportunities to take the ACT and/or SAT during the 2020-2021 administration will continue to submit results, and those results will continue to demonstrate preparation for college-level work. This is consistent with what appears to be the case at test-optional colleges and universities.

The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, and the College of Architecture, Art, and Planning will not accept standardized test scores going forward due to this policy. It is the policy of the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, and the College of Human Ecology, in addition to the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, to not require students to submit their SAT or ACT scores for admission consideration.

Furthermore, as Cornell is test optional, students have the option of not turning in their test results, even if they have taken the exam more than once. This option is available to students who have already taken the exam. The University strongly recommends that applicants prioritize their own health and safety over the testing process.

What is Cornell’s Acceptance Rate?

A fresh round of applications from prospective students known as the Class of 2026 has been submitted to Cornell University as another year passes and a new admissions cycle begins.

The university made the announcement on April 11, 2022, that it had accepted a total of 4,908 applicants from both the Regular Decision pool and the Early Decision pool, noting that the class was “talented and diverse” and came from “a broader range of places than ever before.”

Students accepted into the program come from 85 different countries and all 50 states in the United States, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Young teacher talking to a group of students.

In addition, 57.7 percent of admitted students who identified as underrepresented minorities self-identified as students of color, and 19.9 percent of admitted students will be the first in their families to attend college.

The often nerve-wracking process of applying to colleges and universities came to a satisfying and ultimately rewarding conclusion in December 2021, when many prospective students were offered admission to the University through the Early Decision program.

The University will not disclose acceptance rates during the admissions cycle that is currently underway. Furthermore, the University will not disclose acceptance rates for the Class of 2026 until the middle of summer 2022, after the admissions cycle has concluded. However, the Class of 2025 set new records for the lowest acceptance rate in recent years with 8.7 percent. With 67,830 applicants and 5,836 accepted students, this class had the lowest acceptance rate in recent history.

Cornell Admission Requirements

What are the required Cornell admission requirements? If you have Cornell University on your list of dream colleges, you are likely already aware of how competitive the admissions process is. This Ivy League institution can be found in New York, and it is famous both for the quality of its educational offerings and the caliber of its graduates.

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Since Cornell is highly sought after by first-year students, and with the advantage of Cornell being test optional, you will need to do everything you can to ensure that your application is noticed among the other candidates. Before submitting an application, it is in your best interest to conduct thorough research covering all of the requirements.

Cornell University GPA Requirements

You are required to give careful consideration to Cornell University’s GPA prerequisites before submitting an application. This ensures that your application is not immediately dismissed without further consideration.

You can get a good idea of the minimum GPA needed to attend Cornell University by looking at the average GPA of the university’s students. Most of Cornell’s acceptances have unweighted grade point averages of 4.07 or higher. You might be asking yourself, “How is it possible for students to have a grade point average that is higher than 4.0?” Some secondary schools assign grades on a scale of 5.0 rather than 4.0 to the Advanced Placement (AP) exams and other advanced coursework.

Using a laptop for Common app essay.

Let’s talk about the typical grade point average at Cornell. The exact grade point averages of admitted students are kept secret by most of the nation’s top educational institutions. Despite this, most students finish in the top 10 percent of their high schools. It is in your best interest to keep your overall grade point average at or above 4.0 in all your classes.

You’ll need to earn a majority of A’s in your high school courses if you want your grade point average to be high enough for Cornell. Other information in your transcript, such as awards, certificates, and AP classes, are taken into consideration by Cornell as well. In conclusion, it is absolutely necessary to maintain a grade point average that satisfies the requirements set forth by Cornell University while simultaneously enrolling in the most challenging classes that your high school has to offer.

Cornell University SAT Requirements

63.7 percent of students offered admission to Cornell decided to send in their Cornell SAT score, while 55.9 percent ultimately sent in their Cornell ACT score. The following table shows the Cornell SAT scores of applicants accepted into the middle 50 percentile range.

Section 25th percentile 50th percentile 75th percentile
Evidence-Based Reading and Writing 690 730 760
Math 700 760 790
SAT total 1390 1480 1530

The following is a breakdown of the accepted students’ SAT scores, broken down by section.

Cornell University SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing:

Score Percentage of accepted students with scores
700-800 78%
600-700 21%
500-600 2.3%
Below 500 0.1%

Cornell University SAT Math:

Score Percentage of accepted students with scores
700-800 81%
600-700 17%
500-600 2.5%
Below 500 Less than 0.1%

Cornell University ACT Requirements

The average score on the ACT for admission to Cornell in 2021 was 33. A score of 34 on the ACT would put you above average, while a score of 31 would put you below average. The range of ACT scores for the middle 50 percent of accepted students at Cornell was 31-34, which means that a score of 34 would put you well above average, while a score of 31 would put you below average.

What are Cornell University’s Application Requirements?

If you are applying for admission to the university for the first time and graduated from high school during the academic year 2022-23, or if you graduated from high school but have earned fewer than 12 credits at a college or university, you are considered a first-year applicant.

Check that you meet all of Cornell’s prerequisites for undergraduate admission before submitting your application by reading through the list of requirements available on their website. The requirements that need to be fulfilled by you are as follows.

The Common App (CA)

The Common Application (CA), which can be filled out and sent in via the Internet, is the application that Cornell uses.

The Report from School

This form, along with your official transcript, should be submitted on your behalf by a school counselor or other designated school official. Alternatively, your school may have its own report form.

A Recommendation from Your Counselor

Cornell requires a recommendation letter from your guidance counselor or college advisor.

A Total of Two Teacher Evaluations

You are required to turn in recommendations from two different teachers. Be certain to remind the people writing letters for you to include your name and date of birth on each page if the letters will be mailed to you.

The Midyear Report, which is issued when your grades for the first half of the year are complete

Send in the Midyear Report once the application deadline has passed in as timely a manner as possible. To expedite the review of your application, Cornell strongly encourages school counselors to submit this information online.

We are aware that some students who attend schools that use trimesters may not have any new grade information to report at the time that the submission is due. These students do not have to submit a Midyear Report because they do not have any new grades to report.

An official transcript from your secondary or high school

Before the application deadline, you are required to send us one or more official transcripts from secondary schools or high schools that you attended. This should be sent by your school either online or via mail, and either option is acceptable.

Application fee of $80 or fee waiver if applicable

For applications to be considered, either a non-refundable application fee of $80 or a fee waiver must be submitted. The admissions process begins with submitting the application and the application fee or a fee waiver. This step should be completed as quickly as possible to avoid any delays. Cornell will not review your application unless you pay the $80 application fee or request a fee waiver.

The commitment of Cornell University to providing equal opportunities and access to all of its students is unwavering. There is the possibility that you could be granted a fee waiver if the $80 application fee would put an undue burden on your family’s finances.

The Questions and Writing Supplement of Cornell University

Because it contains essential Cornell-specific questions and required essays, the Cornell Questions and Writing Supplement is a requirement that all applicants must meet. Having this information allows us to better match your intellectual aspirations with the Cornell college or school to which you are applying.

The Results of Standardized Tests

The SAT and/or ACT test requirement previously in place for applicants to Cornell in 2022, 2023, and 2024 has been removed.

Students taking an exam in their desk.


Since Cornell has adopted a test optional policy, students still have the option of not turning in their test results, even if they have taken the exam more than once. This option is available to students who have already taken the exam.

Items that must be submitted to be considered for admission to the undergraduate college or school at Cornell to which you have applied: Interviews and submissions of your portfolio and designs.


Students interested in enrolling in the architecture program must take part in an interview as a component of the admissions process. Interviews are strongly recommended, but not required, for those interested in applying to the Department of Art or the Department of Urban and Regional Studies.

Additional Submissions

There are some of our majors, such as architecture, art, design, environmental analysis, and fashion design and management that do require additional forms, portfolios, or design indexes. These majors can be found on our website.

Requirements For International Students

In terms of admissions requirements, Cornell is known for being relatively strict. As a result, you should make getting high scores across the board in your exams and maintaining a solid academic track record a priority. The specific requirements necessary to qualify for each course are different from one another.

The application procedure that our first-year applicants and transfer applicants go through is also used for prospective international students. International applicants’ financial circumstances are considered when making admissions decisions at Cornell University.

This indicates that they will be evaluated for admission considering the financial capability of either the students or their parents to cover education costs. If international applicants do not submit an application for financial aid at the time they submit their admissions application (and if they are granted admission), they will not be eligible to submit an application for financial aid at any point during their time as undergraduate students at Cornell.

Applicants to Cornell University’s undergraduate program who believe they may, at any time during their time there, require financial assistance are required to apply for aid at the same time they submit their application for admission. The following is a list of the requirements for international students to attend Cornell University as undergraduates.

  • IELTS- at least 7 overall or
  • TOEFL- Score of 100 (internet-based) and 600 (paper-based)
  • Duolingo English Test: Score of120 and above
  • Advanced Placement scores, as per course
  • SAT or ACT scores (for the 2022 intake, Cornell has suspended SAT/ACT requirements.)
  • Class 10, 11, and 12 records (or as asked by the university)

What is the Application Deadline for Cornell?

What is the current Cornell application deadline for 2022? Applicants to Cornell’s first-year program have the option of submitting their applications under either the early decision or the regular decision admission plan. Students with Cornell high on their list of potential schools to attend should seriously consider applying under the early decision plan.

Applications for early decision are evaluated in the fall, and Cornell’s decision is communicated to prospective students in the middle of December. At Cornell University, the deadlines for admission to undergraduate courses are separated into two categories: early decisions and regular decisions. The following list contains the upcoming due dates for the semester:

Application Deadline
Early Decision November 1
Regular Decision January 2
Early Decision November 1

If you need help putting the finishing touches on your early applications or want some advice on whether or not applying Early Decision or an Early Action is a good option for you, at AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process, including our athletic recruitment program.

AdmissionSight can help you put your best foot forward when applying to college this fall. Contact us today for more information on our services.


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