SAT/ACT scores are becoming increasingly less important to students who are opting to apply to “Test Optional” colleges and universities. However, a recently released research study, Defining Promise: Optional Standardized Testing Policies in American College and University Admissions, examines the outcomes of standardized testing policies in the Admissions offices at 33 public and private colleges and universities. Two critical research findings are (2014 p. 3):

  • There are no significant differences in either Cumulative GPA or graduation rates between students who submitted SAT/ACT scores and those who did not.
  • College and university Cumulative GPAs closely track high school GPAs, despite wide variations in testing. Students with strong HSBPAs generally perform well in college, despite modest or low testing.

Bates College (ranked 22nd nationally on the U.S. News & World Reports liberal arts college rankings) published the report, Defining Promise: Twenty-five Years of Optional Testing at Bates College, which provides similar research findings (2011 p. 6-7):

  • No significant differences in their Bates College Cumulative GPAs for students who submit SAT/ACT scores (3.16) versus students who do not submit scores (3.13)
  • No significant differences in Bates College graduation rates (1 percent)

These research findings suggest that students must carefully consider their financial need and the colleges to which they will seek to apply. Students who do not submit SAT/ACT scores may not be considered for merit-based institutional grants and scholarships. Students who need to qualify for non-need merit-based financial aid, may need to achieve SAT/ACT scores that qualify them for such merit-based institutional financial aid which will widely vary by institutions. Students whose SAT/ACT scores are outside of the range required to qualify for such merit-based institutional aid and would like to explore college admissions at colleges that do not require SAT or ACT scores have many colleges to choose from.

The National Center for Fair and Open Testing website ( provides a listing of several hundred colleges and universities that do require students’ SAT or ACT scores to be considered for admission.

Major universities include:

  • Arizona State University
  • Brandeis University
  • DePaul University
  • Ohio State University
  • University of California, Santa Cruz

Private liberal arts colleges include:

  • Agnes Scott College
  • Bard College
  • Bates College
  • Bowdoin College
  • Benning College
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Hampshire College

HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities)

  • Alcorn State University
  • Arkansas State University
  • Grambling State University
  • Hampton University
  • Langston University

Each college has its own admissions policies, which provide alternatives to submitting SAT or ACT scores. Interested students should review the listing and contact the office of admissions at the college or university to which they are interested in applying.

Click here to download a list of colleges…

Click here to reading the NPR story, “College Applicants Sweat The SATs. Perhaps They Shouldn’t…