Which Top Tier Colleges Don’t Require the SAT?

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Empowerly Team
Empowerly Team

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Wondering which top tier colleges don’t require the SAT? If test-taking isn’t your strong suit, have no fear! In fact, below I have listed five prestigious colleges that do not require you to submit standardized test scores. We’ve also included a comprehensive list of test-optional colleges for you. So, let’s get started.

Why No SAT?

PBS news wrote an article explaining the truth about SAT scores; in actuality, they do not represent how smart a student is. Harvard, ABC, Quartz, and many other research teams over the last fifteen years have consistently come to the same conclusion. There is no clear correlation between what a student scores on the SAT or ACT and how well they perform when they get to college.

Instead, these teams have found that GPA, course load, extracurriculars, and interview performance are much stronger indicators of a student’s academic capability. The following five colleges all adamantly agree with these findings, and therefore do not require most high school applicants to submit their standardized test scores.

1. The University of Chicago

  • USA Today Ranking: 3
  • Undergraduate Students: 5,941

In fact, the University of Chicago will begin making SAT and ACT test scores optional. They did so with the class of 2023. According to USA today, University officials stated that this move will level the playing field for underprivileged and underrepresented minority groups. Additionally, this change will be accompanied with automatic full-ride scholarships for students with parents making under $125,000 a year.

2. Wake Forest University

  • USA Today Ranking: 27
  • Undergraduate Students: 4,995

Wake Forest made test scores optional in 2008, and has stuck with the policy ever since. Following this, the University prides itself on being one of the frontrunners in this initiative; not only that, but they have been pleased with the effect it has on applicants. As a result of the change to test optional, the university has seen a 54 percent increase in racial diversity.

3. George Washington University

  • USA Today Ranking: 56
  • Undergraduate Students: 11,504

George Washington began their test-optional policy in 2015. This came after stating that the only clear correlation between an application and a student’s success in college was their coursework in high school. Instead, the University values the rigor of your schedule, number of AP or IB classes, and weighted GPA. Nonetheless, if you are homeschooled, a recruited athlete, or are applying to their accelerated B.A./M.D. program, you must still submit an ACT or SAT score.

4. Bowdoin College

  • USA Today Ranking: 3 (Liberal Arts)
  • Undergraduate Students: 1,806

Bowdoin College is one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation and has been test optional since 1969. The college allows students to hide any part of the standardized tests and show others, in case you excel in one subject. Despite being test optional, only 30 percent of applicants in 2018 chose to completely hide their scores.

5. Smith College

  • USA Today Ranking: 12 (Liberal Arts)
  • Undergraduate Students: 2,514

Smith College is an all female liberal arts school located in Northampton, Massachusetts. They have always been test optional for first year applicants as well as transfer students. However, if you are an international student or a non- U.S. citizen, you are required to submit an ACT or SAT score in addition to your PTE.

 Further Suggestions:

As discussed above, some colleges don’t require the SAT. Nonetheless, some may take your scores, if you choose to submit them. For example, if you score better than you expected, you can include that boost. On the other hand, if you disliked your scores, you can choose to opt out.

Finally, if you do decide to take one of these exams, check out our guide to find resources and advice.

Next, here is a more comprehensive list of test-optional colleges.

CollegeStandardized testing policy
University of ChicagoTest-Optional
Mills College (CA)Test-Optional
Stetson University (FL)
Bowdoin College (ME)
Ithaca College (NY)
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (FL)Test-Optional
Smith College (MA)Test-Optional
Wesleyan University (CT)Test-Optional
Bates College (ME)Test-Optional
Wake Forest University (NC)Test-Optional
Bryn Mawr (PA)Test-Optional
Pitzer College (CA)Test-Optional
Trinity College (CT)Test-Optional
Union College (NY)Test-optional
Test-Optional, Featuring Exceptions
CollegeStandardized testing policy
Loyola University (MD)Students can submit an additional teacher recommendation and/or personal essay instead of test scores
University of Mary Washington (VA)First-year applicants who maintain at least a 3.5 cumulative high school GPA in a challenging course of study may request to be considered for admission without test scores.
Marymount California University (CA)Recommends standardized testing (SAT, ACT and/or TOEFL). Additionally, required for merit scholarships.
University of Rochester (NY)A variety of tests fulfill Rochester’s testing requirement; for instance, SAT Reasoning exams, the ACT, 2+ SAT Subject exams, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, GCE, SE, AS- and A-level exams (in UK and Commonwealth countries), Gao Kao (China)
Brandeis University (MA)Brandeis has a test-optional policy, and therefore citizens and permanent residents of the US or Canada don’t submit SAT or ACT scores.
Mount Holyoke College (MA)Test-Optional. However, if you do not speak English as a first language, you may be asked to provide evidence of your fluency.
New York University (NY)Text-flexible. You only have to submit results from one of the following:
SAT (essay test not required)
ACT (writing test not required)
3 SAT Subject Test scores
3 AP exam scores
IB Diploma
3 IB higher-level scores if not a Diploma candidate
Nationally accredited exam that shows you completed your secondary education
Skidmore College (NY)Skidmore College is test-optional for most applicants. However, students may submit either the SAT or ACT.
Dickinson College (PA)At Dickinson, SAT I or ACT scores are optional.
California State Univ. (CA)SAT/ACT test scores aren’t required for California residents with a high school GPA of 3.00 or above. However, nonresidents must have a GPA of 3.61 or above.

In conclusion

In summary, this article discussed options of top tier colleges that don’t require SAT scores. For example, colleges like the University of Chicago set the no-test trend. On the other hand, we also noted when test scores may still help your chances within these options. Either way, removing pressure to score well can provide reassurance and a confidence boost to students.

However, if you are still confused, we’re here to help. Our team of experts will be happy to assist you. So, if you are looking for more ways to apply this information to your situation, be sure to book a consult with our team of experts.

Questions? Let us know!