Colleges That Don’t Require SAT or ACT Scores - 2024 List

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Updated:
June 7, 2024
7 min read
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”Mary

Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 2/9/24

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!

12 Colleges That Don't Require SAT Or ACT In The US

The top 12 colleges that don’t require standardized test scores include:

  • Princeton
  • Harvard
  • Yale
  • University of Chicago
  • Brown
  • Dartmouth
  • Northwestern
  • Dule
  • John Hopkins
  • Vanderbilt
  • Rice
  • Carnell
  • Columbia
  • Notre Dame

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

The best college in the nation is test-optional! With its test-optional policy, admission to Princeton University should be less intimidating.

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%

Princeton

Harvard University

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. 

Harvard University

Yale University

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.

Yale University

The University of Chicago 

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!  

University of Chicago

Johns Hopkins University

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.

man looking into microscope

University of Pennsylvania 

Until at least the 2024 application cycle, UPenn is test-optional. This may make it easier for you to make it into the 4.1% of applicants who are offered admission to this school. 

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!

Upenn

Source: UPenn

Duke University

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!

Man looking into microscope

Northwestern University

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.

students on college tour

Source: Northwestern University

Dartmouth College

Dartmouth college

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. 

Brown University 

brown 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%.

Vanderbilt University

vanderbilt university

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.

Rice University

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. 

rice university

Cornell University

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.

cornell university

Columbia University

Columbia continues to be test-optional until 2024. Despite the very low acceptance rate of 3.9%, the knowledge that you don’t need to take a standardized test may help you conquer your application!

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. 

columbia university

The University of Notre Dame

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. 

university of notre dame

Source: University of Notre Dame

Other Schools That Don’t Require SAT or ACT Scores For Admission

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!

School Test-Optional Policy Duration Acceptance Rate
University of California Schools Indefinitely Ranges from 8.8% (UCLA) to 70.3% (UC Riverside)
Carnegie Mellon University Until at least 2024 11%
Emory University Until at least 2024 11%
New York University Until at least 2023-2024 8%
University of Michigan Until at least 2024 18%
University of Southern California Until at least 2023-2024 10%
University of Virginia Until at least 2025 19%
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Until at least 2024 16.8%
Wake Forest University Indefinitely 20%
Tufts University Until at least 2024 10.1%
Boston College Until at least 2023-2024 15.5%

School Test-Optional Policy Duration Acceptance Rate
University of Texas at Austin Until at least 2023-2024 31%
University of Wisconsin Until at least 2025 49%
Boston University Until at least 2026 14%
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Until at least 2023-2024 43.7%
William & Mary University Indefinitely 33%
Brandeis University Indefinitely 39%
Case Western Reserve University Until at least 2024 27%
Northeastern University Until at least 2024 5.6%
Tulane University Until at least 2023-2024 14%
The Ohio State University Until at least 2025 53%
Lehigh University Until at least 2023-2024 37%
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Until at least 2024 65%

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!

What Is a Test-Free College?

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.

Pros and Cons of Submitting Test Scores to Colleges

If your school falls under the latter category and is test-optional, consider these pros and cons of submitting your scores:

Pros

Let’s begin with the positives!

  • Can enhance your application: If your GPA is lower than anticipated or your application has other weaknesses, submitting competitive ACT/SAT scores can compensate for these parts of your application.
  • Scholarships: Some merit-based scholarships are given out based on ACT/SAT scores. If you’re interested in making your tuition more affordable, submitting high scores can help you achieve this goal.
  • Transparent evaluation: Scores are still widely regarded as accurate indicators of student potential, even in test-optional schools. Submitting competitive scores gives admissions officers a clear picture of your academic preparedness for college.

Cons

Now, let’s go over some reasons to avoid submitting your scores:

  • Can weaken your application: If you have an otherwise stellar application, submitting scores that are below your school’s median can detract from your application.
  • Can add to your stress: Juggling ACT/SAT prep during high school requires time, consistent practice, and dedication. This can increase your stress levels, especially as you try to manage other parts of your application. 

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.

FAQs: Schools That Don’t Require SAT or ACT

For any lingering questions about test-optional colleges, read on to find your answers.

1. What Online Colleges Don’t Require SAT or ACT?

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!

2. Is the SAT Still Required for 2024?

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!

3. Do Most Colleges Still Require SAT or ACT?

Most colleges are test-optional for the foreseeable future. There are far fewer colleges that require the SAT/ACT than those that do not!

4. Should I Still Submit My Test Scores If a School Is Test-Optional?

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.

5. Will Not Submitting Test Scores Affect My Chances of Admission?

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

If you’re struggling with whether to write standardized tests or not, talking to our team at Quad Education might help. Getting professional insight can help you make informed choices about the admissions process!

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