Test Optional Colleges and Universities


According to The National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest), as of the fall of 2010 over 800 four-year colleges and universities across the United States have de-emphasized the use of the SAT or ACT when making admissions decisions about a substantial number of their incoming freshmen. While these colleges and universities range widely in size, selectivity and culture, and have moved away from using standardized tests to make admissions decisions for a variety of reasons, they share concerns about the impact of overreliance on the tests.

A test-optional admissions policy means certain applicants can choose not to submit SAT or ACT scores. However, it is important to note that the rules governing these policies vary from college to college. Some test-optional schools will not accept or consider your test scores at all; others require test scores under certain conditions; some colleges/universities require test scores only for certain types of students, such as out-of-state students, students in certain majors, or those applying for college-based scholarships; while still others have created alternative test policies that allow students to submit scores from Advanced Placement tests, SAT Subject Tests, or International Baccalaureate (IB) results.

For many students, hearing that some colleges are "test optional" is great news. However, this does not mean students can avoid taking the SAT or ACT. The vast majority of colleges (there are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the United States alone) still require standardized test scores. Nonetheless, if you are a student who has difficulty with standardized testing, test-optional colleges may be well worth considering, and you should consider discussing an appropriate strategy with your school counselor.

FairTest ( maintains a searchable list of colleges and universities that de-emphasize the use of standardized tests by making admissions decisions about substantial numbers of applicants who recently graduated from U.S. high schools without using the SAT or ACT. You can search for schools alphabetically or by state. After reviewing the list, students should check with each prospective school's admissions office to learn more about specific admissions requirements. You can usually find this information on the college's website. If you are considering applying to a test-optional college, carefully review the school's test-optional admissions information before you decide not to submit test scores.



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