Low SAT or ACT Scores? Explore Test-Optional Colleges

If taking the ACT or SAT stresses you out, you are not alone. A recent study shows that one out of six students struggles with these standardized tests. Along with time it takes to study and do practice tests, getting a low score can often affect your chances of getting accepted at a competitive school.

If you'™d rather not deal with these standardized tests, you are in luck. A growing number of accredited colleges are finding them unnecessary and are no longer making them an admissions requirement. In fact, more than 950 accredited colleges have now officially made standardized tests optional. There are also other universities that allow you to submit test scores other than the SAT or ACT as part of your admissions process.

What Test-Optional Means

When a college states that it has a test-optional policy, this means that the school allows you to decide whether or not you want to submit your SAT or ACT score. In other words, you are welcome to submit it, especially if you think it will increase your chances of getting accepted. However, you aren'€™t required to do so for admission.

Some examples of test-optional schools include:

  • Boise State University
  • Clark University
  • Colorado State University
  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
  • George Washington University
  • Idaho State University
  • New York University (NYU)
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Oregon State University
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Alaska
  • University of Arizona
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Hartford
  • University of Houston
  • University of Idaho
  • University of Texas
  • Utah Valley University
  • Wake Forest University
  • Washington State University
  • Weber State University
  • West Texas A&M University

Test-Blind Schools

Yet, other universities go even beyond a test-optional policy by not even considering ACT or SAT scores as part of the admissions process, even if you include it in your application. These schools, such as Hampshire College, are called test-blind.

Test-Flexible Schools

Unlike test-optional or test-blind schools, some universities are test-flexible, meaning they allow you choose from an approved list of tests to submit in place of the SAT or ACT.

For example, at New York University, if you prefer to not to send your comprehensive ACT or SAT score, you can submit three or more SAT subject test scores or three Advanced Placement scores.

A university'€™s test-flexible policy enables you to submit your highest scores in areas that you excel in to increase your chances of admission.

Applying to a Test-Optional School

Some students may feel that their ACT or SAT score doesn'€™t reflect their true potential. If you'€™d rather not spend the time studying for the SAT or ACT, then a test-optional school might be a better option for you.

Applying to this type of school will place less weight on your test score and can enable you to emphasize your other academic and extracurricular strengths, such as your GPA, volunteer work, or student activity involvement.

As you decide which universities to apply to, check the admissions requirement policies to see which ones don't require standardized tests. This might help you narrow down which school for you to attend. To see a list of test-optional or test-flexible schools by state, visit the National Center for Fair and Open Testing site.