21 June 2017

The Many Flavors of Test-Optional College Admissions

Posted in Your College List, Class of 2022, 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 George Mason University.


Colleges with Test-Optional Policies

Class of 2022 Edition

College Kickstart LLC 

InstitutionAdmit RateSAT Mid 50%ACT Mid 50%Test PolicyDetails
Agnes Scott College66%1100-127024-30Flexible
Albright College50%990-117019-26Conditional
Allegheny College68%1140-132023-29Optional
American University29%1180-135026-30Optional
Assumption College79%1070-125023-28Optional
Augustana College59%1100-134023-28Flexible
Austin College52%1160-136023-29Flexible
Bard College58%1140-137028-31Optional
Bates College22%1270-145029-32Optional
Beloit College54%1040-131024-30Optional
Bennington College57%1210-139027-31Optional
Birmingham-Southern College62%1030-126023-29Flexible
Boston University25%1300-148028-32SAT or ACT (optional for College of Fine Arts)
Bowdoin College14%1290-151030-34Optional
Brandeis University34%1280-147029-33Flexible
Bryant University73%1120-128024-29Flexible
Bryn Mawr College38%1310-150029-33Optional
Catawba College42%930-110018-23Flexible
Catholic University of America83%1120-132023-29Optional
Christopher Newport University72%1130-130023-29Conditional
Clark University56%1180-128027-31Optional
Colby College16%1340-150031-33Flexible
College of Idaho76%870-132021-27Flexible
College of the Atlantic68%1190-135026-30Optional
College of the Holy Cross40%1270-141028-31Optional
Colorado College15%1300-149029-33Flexible
Columbia College Chicago92%1030-126020-26Optional
Connecticut College38%1270-140029-31Optional
Cornell College65%1110-133023-29Flexible
Denison University37%1200-138028-31Optional
DePaul University72%1080-131022-28Flexible
Dickinson College49%1230-142027-32Optional
Drake University69%1150-133024-30Flexible
Drew University63%1100-130023-28Optional
Drexel University79%1160-135024-30Flexible except for accelerated degree applicants
Earlham College52%1190-140025-30Optional
Elmira College85%1040-120023-26Optional
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University71%1080-132022-28Optional
Emerson College46%1200-136026-30Flexible
Emmanuel College - MA73%1160-131024-29Optional
Endicott College81%1050-121022-26Optional for most majors
Fairfield University61%1190-131025-29Optional
Franklin and Marshall34%1260-142028-32Flexible
Furman University61%1190-138026-31Optional
George Mason University81%1100-129024-30Conditional
George Washington University41%1280-144029-32Optional
Gettysburg College46%1270-141026-30Optional (required for merit aid)
Goucher College79%1050-126023-29Optional
Guilford College61%950-123019-26Flexible
Gustavus Adolphus College71%1110-134024-30Optional
Hamilton College24%1360-151031-33Flexible
Hampshire College64%1200-143025-30Blind
Hampton University36%980-112020-24Conditional
Hanover College84%1070-126022-27Flexible
Hartwick College89%930-110032-34Optional except for nursing
Hobart and William Smith Colleges61%1210-136027-31Optional
Hofstra University64%1130-131024-29Optional
Ithaca College71%1150-133025-29Optional
James Madison University75%1100-126023-28Optional
Juniata College71%1080-129022-29Flexible
Kalamazoo College73%1180-138026-30Optional
Knox College72%1140-137023-30Optional
Lake Forest College57%1180-130024-29Flexible
Lawrence University61%1210-140025-31Optional
Le Moyne College64%1080-124022-27Optional
Lewis and Clark College71%1210-139027-31Flexible
Loyola University Maryland75%1140-131025-30Flexible
Lynn University85%950-114019-24Optional except for nursing
Marist College43%1140-132024-29Optional
Marlboro College96%1160-142023-31Optional
Marymount California University83%860-104016-23Optional (required for merit scholarship)
McDaniel College85%1060-123021-28Conditional
Merrimack College82%1010-119020-24Optional
Middlebury College17%1300-146030-34Flexible
Mills College87%1010-128022-29Optional
Mount Holyoke College51%1270-146029-33Optional
Muhlenberg College48%1140-134025-30Flexible
New York University28%1290-149029-33Flexible
Northern Arizona University81%1030-123020-25Optional (required for scholarships)
Ohio Wesleyan University71%1060-126022-28Conditional
Pace University80%1040-122021-27Optional for associate degrees, required for honors, performing arts, RN4, homeschooled and NCAA athletics applicants
Pitzer College13%1310-149029-32Optional
Providence College52%1160-133026-30Optional
Quinnipiac University74%1080-126023-27Optional for some schools
Regis University60%1070-126020-26Optional unless nursing or home-schooled
Roanoke College67%1150-127022-27Flexible
Roger Williams University82%1090-126024-28Optional
Rollins College64%1200-135025-30Optional
Sacred Heart University57%1070-134022-28Optional
Saint Anselm76%1140-130024-28Optional except for nursing
Saint Johns College - MD55%1280-145026-32Optional (unless home schooled)
Saint Johns College - NM63%1190-135023-32Optional (unless home schooled)
Saint Johns University - NY63%1050-125022-28Optional
Saint Josephs University78%1130-130023-28Optional
Saint Michaels College85%1150-131025-29Optional
Salisbury University65%1100-126020-25Conditional
Salve Regina University69%1110-127022-26Optional except for Nursing and Education majors
Sarah Lawrence College53%1240-141027-31Optional
Sewanee: The University of the South47%1210-138027-30Optional
Skidmore College25%1230-139027-31Optional
Smith College32%1290-149030-33Optional
St. Lawrence University48%1170-136025-30Optional
State University of New York - Potsdam67%1000-119020-26Optional
Stetson University66%1120-132023-28Optional
Stevens Institute of Technology39%1320-145029-33SAT or ACT (optional for Musical or Visual Arts and Technology applicants submitting a digital portfolio)
Stonehill College72%1080-127023-28Optional
Susquehanna University68%1100-127023-27Optional
Temple University57%1130-131024-29Flexible
The New School - Eugene Lang84%1090-134024-29Optional
The New School - Parsons School of Design51%1090-133021-28Optional
Transylvania University95%1180-136025-30Flexible
Trinity College33%1300-144028-32Optional
Union College37%1270-143029-32Optional
University of Arizona79%1050-129021-27Optional unless applying for merit scholarships, the honors college, nursing or engineering
University of Delaware60%1150-133025-29Optional for residents
University of Hartford72%1000-123020-26Optional unless home schooled or seeking scholarships/honors program admission
University of Mary Washington73%1080-126022-27Conditional
University of Massachusetts - Boston75%1000-120021-26Optional
University of Massachusetts - Lowell69%1130-131024-29Conditional
University of Puget Sound84%1150-137025-31Flexible
University of Rochester35%1250-149029-33Flexible
University of Scranton75%1080-128023-28Flexible
Ursinus College82%1120-135023-29Optional
Virginia Commonwealth University77%1070-125021-28Conditional
Wake Forest University28%1260-144028-32Optional
Washington College48%1090-130023-29Conditional
Wesleyan University17%1300-150029-33Optional
Wheaton College - MA48%1150-135026-30Optional
Whitman College52%1020-137026-31Optional
Whittier College69%1000-120020-26Conditional
Whitworth University73%1080-134022-29Conditional
Willamette University89%1120-134026-31Optional
Wittenberg University72%1050-123022-28Optional
Wofford College70%1160-134024-29Optional
Woodbury University66%940-119019-28Optional
Worcester Polytechnic Institute48%1280-144028-32Flexible