29 June 2018

The Many Flavors of Test-Optional College Admissions

Posted in Your College List, Class of 2023, Perspectives

testbrokenpencilDo your SAT and ACT scores fully reflect your academic ability?

Many prominent colleges have moved to "test-optional" admissions in recent years to give applicants the opportunity to exclude standardized test scores from consideration if desired. This is a good thing!

But what exactly does "test-optional" mean? Unfortunately, it differs by school, and often there are strings attached.

Click on Continue Reading to see our list of test-optional schools and the type of test-optional policy they employ.  For your convenience, we've included admit rates, test score ranges and links to each school's standardized test policy to help you find suitable candidates for your college list.



More and more schools are adopting test-optional admission policies to give applicants the option to exclude SAT and ACT scores from consideration.  And while "test-optional" always means you don't have to include your test scores, it often also comes with strings attached.

In looking at the policies of the schools in our coverage universe, there are four flavors of "test-optional:"

  • Test-Optional. Schools that fall into this category mean what they say: you can opt to exclude standardized test scores from consideration as part of your application, no strings attached.  Of course, if you want your test scores considered they'll take them as well. Examples of schools in this category include: Bates, Bowdoin, George WashingtonPitzer and Wesleyan University.
  • Test-Blind. "Test-Blind" schools never consider standardized test scores as part of your application. So even if you have great SAT/ACT scores you'd like to submit, they'll be ignored.  We are aware of one school that has adopted a test-blind policy: Hampshire College.
  • Test-Flexible. Schools that fall in the "test-flexible" category allow you to substitute your standardized test scores with other credentials, such as SAT II subject tests, graded writing samples or advanced placement test scores.  So while you can exclude your SAT or ACT scores, you'll need to provide something else to help them gauge your academic ability and potential. Test-flexible policies vary widely, so it's important to pay close attention to the details.  Schools in this category include: Brandeis, Colby, Franklin & Marshall, Hamilton, and NYU.
  • Test-Conditional. Schools in this category will waive the need for standardized test scores if certain minimum conditions are met.  These conditions typically include GPA and/or class rank cutoffs. An example of a school with a conditional policy is Hampton University.


Colleges with Test-Optional Policies

Class of 2022 Edition

College Kickstart LLC 

InstitutionAdmit RateSAT Mid 50%ACT Mid 50%Test PolicyDetails