Universities that Don’t Require ACT or SAT

July 28, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Universities that Don’t Require ACT or SAT

What are the Universities that don’t require ACT or SAT? The application and acceptance process for higher education institutions in the United States does not follow a standard format that is applicable to all schools. Every institution of higher learning employs its very own complex set of criteria to select the students who will be allowed to join the student body.

The relative weight that individual schools give to candidates’ SAT and ACT scores is one factor that is becoming an increasingly important differentiator.

Once upon a time, everyone agreed that standardized test scores were the single most important factor in determining admission, but these days, there are more than a thousand accredited universities and colleges that do not require applicants to submit their SAT or ACT scores as part of the application process.

A prospective college student who suffers from test anxiety, or who does not have the means or access to testing, is at a severe disadvantage. The original intention of test scores was to allow for objective, standardized comparisons of students across the country. However, over time, test scores have put prospective college students at a severe disadvantage.

Young woman taking an exam with her fellow classmates.

The widespread belief that standardized tests like the ACT and SAT have historically catered toward those with certain privileges has resulted in less economic and racial diversity among student populations in higher education. Not only has this prevented a great number of talented students from continuing their education, but it has also reduced the diversity of college student populations across the country.

The colleges that do not require applicants to submit their SAT or ACT scores do so in the hopes of finding promising applicants based on other criteria, such as the personal essays, letters of recommendation, and overall grade point average.

As a consequence of this, an increasing number of educational institutions are revising their methods by adopting policies that are either test-optional or test-flexible, with the intention of either downplaying or completely removing the requirement that students reveal their test scores.

Finding schools that don’t require SAT or ACT scores and being aware of the various application options can be challenging; therefore, continue reading for our guide to the process as well as some colleges to consider as a starting point!

What Are the SAT and ACT, and Why Are They Necessarily Taken by Some Students?

The Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and the American College Testing Program (ACT) are examples of entrance exams that are used by many schools of higher education to evaluate the academic ability of prospective students and to choose who will be admitted.

The most significant distinction between the two examinations is that the SAT is comprised of two sections and is supervised by The College Board, whereas the ACT is comprised of four sections and is supervised by ACT, Inc.

Unidentified student writing in a desk.

Due to the fact that the exams are administered in the same manner throughout the United States, colleges and universities have long regarded the results of these exams as a superior indicator of a student’s preparedness for college when compared to GPAs, high school transcripts, and extracurricular activities. This enables evaluation to take place on a playing field that is more uniform.


  • Ranging from 1 to 36
  • A total of four parts: reading, mathematics, English, and scientific justification
  • May or may not include an essay component.
  • Total time of two hours and fifty-five minutes, plus an additional forty minutes for an essay that is optional.


  • A scale ranging from 400 to 1600
  • Reading, Writing and Language, and Mathematics as separate sections
  • Duration in its entirety: three hours

Test-Optional Colleges  

How do test-optional colleges work? In the interest of getting the most important question out of the way first: If a college or university is test-optional, it means that you have the option of deciding whether or not to send in your SAT or ACT scores. If you do submit them, they will be evaluated as part of your application; however, if you don’t submit them, you will not be at a disadvantage in comparison to other applicants who did submit test scores.

What are the odds of that happening? If you choose not to send in your test scores, schools that do not require them will simply give more weight to the other aspects of your application (such as your grade point average, class rank, extracurricular activities, and so on) in order to compensate for the missing scores.

Young woman answering a test in a desk.

For instance, an individual who provides test scores to an educational institution will have their application evaluated in, let’s say, six categories, whereas an individual who does not provide test scores will have their application evaluated in five categories, each of which will be worth a bit more than the six categories that will be used to evaluate the first student’s application.

How is it different from the other policies regarding testing that are available? The following are brief descriptions of four additional prevalent testing policies.

Why Are Schools Making the Switch to Policies That Allow Students to Opt-Out of Testing?

Prior to the past few years, schools that did not require students to take standardized tests were not very common. However, there has been a significant shift in the trend, and there are now approximately 1,000 colleges in the United States that do not require applicants to take entrance exams. What factors contributed to this shift in behavior?

There are two primary contributors to this result. One reason for colleges and universities that don’t require ACT or SAT is that they don’t want weak test scores to prevent them from admitting students who otherwise have strong applications and would be beneficial to their institution.

Colleges are making an effort to attract applicants from a more diverse range of backgrounds, and they don’t want prospective students to be prevented from enrolling as a result of external factors that are beyond their control. Research has shown that students who come from more affluent backgrounds consistently have higher SAT and ACT scores.

As a result, many schools are dropping the requirement for standardized tests so that students who come from more disadvantaged backgrounds are not put at an even greater disadvantage when applying to colleges.

The pandemic played a role in hastening the progression of this trend. Many schools stopped offering standardized tests around the year 2020, making it more challenging or even impossible for many students to continue doing so. As a consequence of this, a lot of the schools that demanded test scores before made the tests optional.

Female student writing an essay on a notebook while sitting on her desk.

After seeing how well the change worked, a good number of these schools have decided to make the test-optional policy permanent, although the majority of these schools are only test-optional temporarily.

In general, as educational institutions place a greater emphasis on accepting a more diverse group of students, we anticipate that an increasing number of educational institutions will adopt a test-optional policy in order to provide applicants with the greatest number of options and opportunities possible.

Test- Flexible Colleges

At Test-Flexible Colleges, submitting SAT or ACT test scores is not required of each and every applicant. Have an excellent grade point average? There are text-flexible schools that will exempt you from the requirement that you have a certain score on a standardized test. If you submit solid AP scores or an impressive SAT score in a single subject area, some institutions may exempt you from the prerequisite.

Test- Flexible colleges give you more control over your application than colleges that require you to take a test, but not as much control as colleges that don’t require you to take a test at all.

Get in touch with an admissions officer at the school of your choice or visit the school’s admissions website if you want more information about the school’s test-optional policy. You will be noticed more if you take a proactive approach, which will also assist you in determining which scores you need to send in and which you do not need to send in.

Test-Blind Colleges

What exactly are Test-Blind Colleges, you ask? When a school declares that it is “test-blind,” they are typically indicating that it will not take applicants’ test scores into consideration at any point during the admissions process.

This means that even if you take the SAT or ACT and have your score reports sent to a school that is test-blind, the admissions office will not see your score nor take it into consideration when making their decision about whether or not to let you into the school.

In accordance with a test-blind policy, the admissions committee won’t even be able to see your SAT or ACT scores, and as a consequence, they won’t have any bearing on whether or not you’ll be accepted.

Test-blind admissions are not the same as test-optional policies, which you may be more familiar with. However, test-optional policies are not the same thing. When a college or university advertises that it does not require applicants to submit test scores as part of their application, what they really mean is that prospective students have the option of doing so.

If you apply under the test-optional category and choose to submit your SAT or ACT scores, the admissions committee will use what is known as a “holistic admissions” approach to evaluate your application and take those scores into consideration.

You won’t have an unfair advantage or disadvantage in the admissions process because of your test scores, and test-optional schools won’t weigh your test scores as more important than other aspects of your application (like your essays or letters of recommendation, for example). In other words, test-optional schools won’t treat your test scores as more important than other aspects of your application.

On the other hand, schools that do not consider test scores to be part of the admissions decision believe that other aspects of your application provide superior information about you as an applicant. Because of this, you won’t have the option to send in your SAT or ACT scores to test-blind schools, and those scores won’t play any role in determining whether or not you will be admitted.

At this point in time, test-optional policies are significantly more prevalent than test-blind policies. However, you should be aware of the distinction between test-optional schools and test-blind schools because the former will let you send in your test scores while the latter will not.

Colleges and Universities that Don’t Require SAT or ACT Scores

Examples here are some of the prestigious colleges and universities that don’t require ACT or SAT scores in order to be considered for admission. Your reasons for wanting a school with a more flexible approach to exam evaluation could be any of the following:

Pitzer College

In 2003, Pitzer College, a relatively small liberal arts institution that is situated just outside of Los Angeles, became a test-option college. Pitzer is a highly ranked and highly selective institution, despite the fact that it takes an unconventional approach to the admissions process. Although the admissions office at Pitzer will continue to accept test scores from applicants who choose to send them, the office places a greater emphasis on prospective students’ academic transcripts, participation in extracurricular activities, and overall demonstration of Pitzer’s guiding principles.

The University of New York in New York

Although New York University is one of the relatively more rigid schools, its policy regarding standardized testing is significantly more flexible than the policies of other research universities of its size and caliber.

The highly regarded educational establishment in the middle of Manhattan does evaluate test scores, but it allows prospective students to substitute SAT or ACT scores for other results, such as those from the Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs, or even an IB diploma.

The College of Hampshire

At this time, Hampshire College is the only institution in the United States to have instituted a test-blind policy which means they are a part of the universities that don’t require ACT or SAT. The college can be found in Western Massachusetts, just outside of the beautiful Berkshires. This means that students are not required to send in their test scores, and the institution will also not accept any scores that are sent in by students.

Young woman holding her books in a campus.

The institution’s website states that “even if it’s a perfect score, it will not weigh into our assessment of the applicant” (even if the score is perfect). The small liberal arts college instead places a high priority on applicants who have maintained a consistent level of achievement across their transcripts, extracurricular activities, and personal essays.

Cornell College

As part of a test-optional policy pilot program, Cornell College, located in Mount Vernon, Iowa, has recently announced that it will now permit applicants to submit a portfolio in lieu of taking a standardized test.

Students can best demonstrate their skills outside of a score by filling their portfolios with creative work such as photography or creative writing. Students have the option to fill their portfolios with either scores or creative work. Since Cornell is putting this procedure through its paces as a test run, the institution may at any time resume requiring students to submit test results.

University of George Washington (GW)

In spite of its location in the nation’s capital, George Washington University is one of the relatively few private research institutions that does not require applicants to take standardized tests.

George Washington University has a student body of over 26,000 people, and it is well-known for having rigorous academics, a roster of nationally competitive Division I sports teams, and easy access to internships in the District of Columbia. Its policy of not requiring students to take tests has been in effect since 2015, and it places more of an emphasis on evaluating students based on how well they do in class as opposed to how well they do on a single test that lasts for four hours.

Montana State University

The close proximity of Montana State University to Yellowstone National Park is a student’s outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true, and the university’s liberal admissions policy only adds to the school’s allure. Standardized test scores are not required for admission into the school; however, prospective students must either rank in the top half of their high school graduating class or maintain a high school grade point average of at least 2.5.

Colorado College

The test-optional policy at Colorado College is not the only thing that makes the institution’s approach to academics stand out from others. Students at the university in Colorado Springs, which has a little more than 2,000 undergraduates, follow what the school refers to as a “block plan.” This means that they only attend one class for three and a half weeks before moving on to the next one.

Ithaca College

Ithaca College was established in 1892 as a modest music conservatory. Since then, the institution has expanded to become a liberal arts college with over 6,200 undergraduate students, five academic schools, and more than 120 academic majors. The Western New York institution does not mandate that applicants submit their standardized test scores in order to be considered for admission; rather, it gives applicants the option to do so.

Smith College

Smith, which was the first and is currently the most prestigious college in the United States that is exclusively for women, is adamant about the significance of taking into consideration factors other than applicants’ test scores.

On its website, the Western Massachusetts school declares, “We choose people, not statistical profiles.” Even though prospective students are given the opportunity to submit test scores in a way that is both open and voluntary, admissions strongly recommends that they schedule an interview with a member of the department instead.

Connecticut College

Connecticut College is yet another one of the school that does not require applicants to submit their SAT or ACT scores in order to apply. Undergraduate enrollment at the institution, which can be found in New London, totals 1,865 students.

In spite of the college’s relaxed attitude toward students’ standardized test scores, 92% of Connecticut College’s first-year students graduated from high schools where they were ranked in the top 20% of their class. Instead, the college encourages students who are interested in applying to share achievements or materials that are more representative of their potential academic success.

University of Chicago

The University of Chicago is located in Hyde Park, which is located in Chicago, and it is surrounded by all of the bustling city life and culture that Chicago has to offer. This location is ideal for students who are looking for a city college experience.

In keeping with the mission of the private research university, which is to inspire its students to question established ways of thinking, the educational establishment has instituted a test-optional policy, being a part of the universities that don’t require ACT or SAT, and which gives applicants the freedom to construct their candidacy in any way they see fit.

Now, if you’re looking for guidance that will best prepare you for entry into any of the elite universities and colleges in the country? We’ve got you covered! At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process. AdmissionSight is prepared to assist you throughout the entirety of the admissions process in order to increase your chances of gaining entry into your dream institution.


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