Since their popularity in the 1930s and 1960s, respectively, the SAT and ACT have been standard rites of passage for aspiring college students. But this changed within the last couple of years, as over a thousand schools adopted a test-optional policy. To learn more about colleges that don’t require SAT or ACT scores for admission, read on!
In the past, college admissions have largely been numbers games. Students required competitive GPAs and standardized test scores to get into their dream colleges. Their SAT/ACT scores, in particular, were used to determine their preparedness for college.
In recent years, as colleges have realized that single scores do not represent students’ full potential on their own, they have become test-optional.
In an attempt to create more equitable and accessible applications that attract a more diverse pool, many colleges no longer consider standardized test scores in their admissions process.
Ultimately, the choice to submit these scores is left to each student, and none will be disadvantaged. If you’re dreading writing these exams or simply feel they cannot accurately capture your academic excellence, read on to find out the top test-optional colleges in 2024!
The top 12 colleges that don’t require standardized test scores include:
If you’re wondering how many colleges are test-optional, the answer is several, including Harvard, the most prestigious in the nation.
But the good news is many of these top colleges have adopted a test-optional approach, so you won't have to miss out on a top-notch education just because you don't have the right standardized scores! Here are 15 of the highest-ranking test-optional schools:
Princeton University, located in Princeton, New Jersey, is renowned for its academic excellence, historic prestige, and vibrant campus community. Princeton offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various disciplines.
The university is known for its rigorous academics, world-class faculty, and commitment to research and innovation. It is also regarded as a highly selective university, with a low acceptance rate of 5.8%!
Harvard’s test-optional policy will be in place until at least 2026. This may make it easier to gain acceptance to this prestigious school!
With an acceptance rate of 3.4%, Harvard aims to admit only the brightest students! Its commitment to innovation and cutting-edge research is reflected in its state-of-the-art facilities and extensive resources, which very few students are granted access to each year.
As one of the world's most prestigious universities, Harvard offers a wide array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs to its prospective students. The university boasts an exceptional faculty composed of leading scholars, researchers, and industry experts who foster a stimulating intellectual environment.
As one of the Ivy League schools, it may come as a surprise that Yale University does not require the SAT or ACT for admission. However, it should come as no surprise that admission to Yale will be competitive regardless of test scores, as Yale has a low acceptance rate of 4.4%!
While Yale encourages applicants who have written the SAT or ACT to still submit their scores if they are below their medians, those who do not submit scores will still be fairly assessed. Keep in mind that if you do choose to forfeit writing one of these exams, greater weight will be placed on the rest of your application.
Despite its extensive admissions standards and a selective acceptance rate of 5%, the University of Chicago implemented a test-optional policy to accommodate students who feel the SAT/ACT cannot fully capture their potential. However, they still recommend that students take the exams if possible.
Located in the bustling city of Chicago, UChicago is widely recognized for its rigorous academics, intellectual curiosity, and lively campus culture. It offers students a challenging academic environment and ample research opportunities.
This university is also committed to academic freedom and expression, which fosters a stimulating community that values rigorous debate and the exploration of unconventional ideas!
While they have high expectations of their students, Johns Hopkins remains test-optional until 2026 because they recognize that greatness can’t be captured by a single score. This policy is also due to the continued impact COVID-19 has on the availability and access to standardized testing.
Known for its world-class academics and cutting-edge research, Johns Hopkins is a hot spot for students eager to make their mark. With top-ranked programs in fields like medicine, public health, and engineering, and a low acceptance rate of 7%, Johns Hopkins offers a diverse range of opportunities for all of their students.
UPenn is not your ordinary Ivy League institution—it's a tight-knit community bursting with energy and creativity. With its commitment to diversity, you'll meet students from all walks of life, bringing their unique perspectives and passions to the table.
You'll have access to exceptional resources and renowned faculty members who are at the forefront of their fields. This university is also ideally located in Philadelphia, offering a wealth of opportunities for internships, networking, and exploration!
You will not be required to submit SAT or ACT scores to gain admission to Duke University! However, to join the 6% of students who are accepted, you’ll need to put together a stellar application regardless.
If you’re interested in research, Duke’s students have access to cutting-edge facilities and opportunities to work alongside faculty on groundbreaking projects. From their renowned programs in engineering, business, law, and the sciences to their strong liberal arts curriculum, there's something for everyone at Duke!
Submission of your SAT or ACT scores to Northwestern will be optional until at least the 2024 admission cycle. If you do choose to submit scores, note that Northwestern has no preference for either test.
As another one of the most highly reputable and selective colleges in the nation, Northwestern has an acceptance rate of 7%. However, if you’re able to make it into this 7%, prepare to be immersed in a thriving community of innovation, collaboration, and boundless opportunities.
Northwestern is considered to be an academic powerhouse. From its renowned journalism and communication programs to its prestigious schools of engineering, business, and more, the university offers a diverse range of disciplines to explore.
Its emphasis on interdisciplinary learning also allows students to connect ideas and perspectives across fields, allowing them to receive a well-rounded education.
Source: Northwestern University
Source: Dartmouth College
Dartmouth allows its undergraduate applicants to choose whether or not to submit their SAT or ACT scores. This makes for a more holistic approach when evaluating applications.
Considering its 6% acceptance rate, this may be a relief for students, as they can spend this extra time and effort honing the other parts of their application and maintaining a high GPA.
Dartmouth is an excellent choice for students who enjoy that small-town feel. The campus is nestled in the cozy town of Hanover, New Hampshire, offering students the comforts of a close-knit community and the resources of a large university.
Source: Brown University
Brown University is remaining test-optional for the 2024 admissions cycle! This policy encourages a fair admissions process, which is compatible with Brown’s commitment to individuality.
At Brown, you'll find a community that celebrates diversity and encourages interdisciplinary learning. With the freedom to design your own academic path through their open curriculum, you can explore a range of subjects and tailor your education to your interests and goals.
Like the other schools mentioned, Brown is competitive, with an acceptance rate of 5%.
Source: Vanderbilt University
Another college that doesn’t require SAT or ACT scores is Vanderbilt. With an acceptance rate of 4.2%, students will be pleased to know they can skip writing either of these exams to get into this school!
Once you’ve gained admission to Vanderbilt, you can benefit from its robust academic programs, experienced faculty, and small class sizes that allow for personalized attention and meaningful interactions with your professors and peers.
Beyond academics, Vanderbilt offers a rich and diverse array of extracurricular activities and a vibrant and inclusive school community.
Standardized test scores are not required to apply to Rice. Students who do not submit SAT or ACT scores with their application will still be given full consideration to join the 7.7% of applicants who are typically offered admission.
At Rice University, get ready to be part of a close-knit community that values curiosity, creativity, and diversity. Rice offers a range of programs across disciplines, including STEM fields, humanities, social sciences, and the arts.
It is also located in the fourth-largest city in the United States, Houston, giving students access to unparalleled career opportunities and connections.
Cornell does not require students to submit SAT or ACT scores to be considered for admission, which may encourage you to look past the low acceptance rate of 7%! Cornell labels some of its schools as “score-free,” meaning scores are not accepted at all, and some as test-optional, meaning scores will only be reviewed if submitted.
What sets Cornell apart is its unique blend of academic rigor and interdisciplinary collaboration. With its Ivy League status and renowned professional schools, Cornell provides a well-rounded education that prepares students to make a difference in the world.
With its iconic campus and spirited urban setting, Columbia offers a unique college experience that combines intellectual rigor with the energy of the Big Apple. At Columbia, you'll find a diverse and talented community of students and faculty who are passionate about making their mark on the world.
This school is regarded as an intellectual hub where students are encouraged to push boundaries and challenge the status quo. It offers a myriad of academic opportunities that cater to a wide range of interests.
For the 2024 and 2025 application cycles, the University of Notre Dame is test-optional. This school falls among the hundreds of other colleges that don’t require SAT or ACT scores.
Notre Dame has an 11.9% acceptance rate and is known for its stunning campus, with its iconic Golden Dome, Gothic architecture, and sprawling green spaces. Notre Dame’s faith-based values permeate its academics, extracurriculars, and community.
Source: University of Notre Dame
We’ve listed the top-ranking colleges that don’t require SAT or ACT scores to prove you can even get into the Ivy Leagues without writing any standardized test! If you’re set on applying to a test-optional school, here are 25 more options for you!
Hopefully, seeing so many excellent schools without SAT or ACT score requirements can alleviate some of your stress and make the application process less daunting! Ensure you also keep updated with each of these schools in case their test-optional policies change during your admission cycle!
In a test-free college, SAT or ACT scores are not accepted at all, and they play no role in admissions decisions. This differs from a test-optional college, where, although standardized test scores are not mandatory, students have the option to submit them for consideration, potentially enhancing their applications.
If your school falls under the latter category and is test-optional, consider these pros and cons of submitting your scores:
Let’s begin with the positives!
Now, let’s go over some reasons to avoid submitting your scores:
It's crucial to thoroughly evaluate whether submitting your scores will genuinely enhance your application. If not, save your time and resources by focusing your efforts on other components of your application.
For any lingering questions about test-optional colleges, read on to find your answers.
There are plenty of online colleges that don’t require standardized test scores, but here are the top five universities that are test-optional and well-known for their online degrees:
All of these schools have extended their test-optional policies to at least the 2024 admissions cycle!
While there are hundreds of schools that don’t require SAT scores, there are still many that do. The SAT and ACT are still regarded as the best ways to assess a student’s potential to succeed in college by certain colleges.
As such, it’s imperative that you do your research and look into the application requirements for all of the schools you want to apply to. Even if the majority are test-optional, if just one isn’t, you’ll need to write the SAT!
Most colleges are test-optional for the foreseeable future. There are far fewer colleges that require the SAT/ACT than those that do not!
The decision to submit test scores is entirely up to you. If you believe your scores accurately represent your abilities and can strengthen your application, it may be beneficial to submit them. However, if you feel that your scores do not reflect your true potential or your application is strong without them, you do not need to submit them.
Test-optional schools evaluate applicants holistically, considering various aspects of their application. Not submitting test scores will not put you at a disadvantage.
Admissions committees will focus on other factors, such as your academic record, supplemental essays, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular involvement, to assess your candidacy.
With so many colleges adopting test-optional policies, the admissions process is being redefined and placing greater emphasis on a student's character, achievements, and potential outside of just their academics.
Whether you choose to write one of these exams or not is ultimately up to you, but knowing you have the option can alleviate some of your stress and help you feel more in control during the nerve-wracking application process!