10 colleges that don't require SAT or ACT scores

By Maria Saracino-Lowe
Courtesy of Hampshire College Flickr.

Not a good test-taker? Freaked out about having to take the SAT or ACT? Even a genius can do poorly on tests. Standardized tests are not a definitive ranking of someone’s intelligence or skill as a student, and colleges are beginning to notice. Over 150 American colleges and universities are now test-optional. So, we've compiled a list of 10 awesome test-optional colleges.

1. Pitzer College

Pitzer College
Courtesy of CMC Forum.

Located just outside of Los Angeles, Pitzer College is both highly ranked and highly selective. They’ll accept your test scores if you choose to send them, but they became a test-optional college in 2003, choosing instead to focus on a prospective student’s transcripts, extracurriculars, and overall commitment to Pitzer’s core values.

2. New York University

New York University 
Courtesy of NYU Stern.

Even though NYU may be considered rigid compared to some of the schools on this list, they have a pretty flexible standardized testing policy. The school does want your scores, but you can substitute SAT or ACT scores with either AP test results, IB test results, or an IB diploma. This could be super helpful if you’re not the best test taker. Having a semester to focus on a specific subject in an AP class, for example, could be easier than cramming endlessly for a test that covers a variety of topics.

3. Hampshire College

Hampshire College 
Courtesy of Pinterest.

Let’s follow up one of the most rigid schools with one of the most flexible. Forget test-optional, Hampshire College, a small liberal arts school in Massachusetts, is completely test blind. They don’t want your scores at all. Even if you land that perfect 2400, they don’t care. They're more interested in consistency, and heavily weigh things like an applicant’s transcripts, extracurriculars, and essays, in lieu of standardized test scores.

4. Lewis & Clark College

Lewis & Clark College 
Courtesy of Insiders Network.

Another small liberal arts college, located in the hipster capital of the Pacific Northwest known as Portland, is also test-optional. Prospective students can apply via the portfolio path, which allows applicants to showcase their academic strengths through writing, math, or science samples, and teacher recommendations.

5. University of Texas at Austin

University of Texas at Austin 
Courtesy of University of Texas at Austin.

Want to be super hip without the rain? The Austin branch of UT is not only test-optional, they’ve also released a report advocating for a reduced emphasis on SAT scores in college admissions decisions. Also, Austin hosts South by Southwest, an extremely chill music, film, and media festival that occurs every year. So, it’s basically the best.

6. Cornell College

Cornell College 
Courtesy of Colleges That Change Lives. 

This institution recently joined the test-optional colleges club, giving applicants the alternative of applying through a portfolio path. Instead of test scores, applicants can submit creative work, including photo journals and creative writing, in order to best demonstrate their skills. However, this is a three-year-long pilot program, so Cornell could resume requiring test results for applicants as soon as 2018.

7. Arizona State University

Arizona State University 
Courtesy of Arizona State University.

With over 250 majors, ASU is a nice break from all of the tiny liberal arts schools on this list. In fact, ASU is actually the largest school in the country. Located across multiple campuses in Phoenix and Tempe, ASU boasts an incredible range of clubs, activities, and stellar athletic programs. While they don’t require SAT or ACT scores, they do want applicants to either be in the top 25 percent of their graduating class, or have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.

8. American University

American University 
Courtesy of Ivywise/First We Feast.

Consistently noted for having one of the most politically-engaged student populations in the country, American University, located in D.C., is also notable for having top-ranked programs in business, communications, and international studies. They’re a completely test-optional college, but look out: according to their website, once you choose whether or not to submit your scores, you can't change your mind. No take-backs.

9. Montana State University

Montana State University 
Courtesy of MSU Pocket Guide.

Outdoorsy? Then Montana State University’s a good choice. It’s also one of the more flexible schools on this list, requiring that prospective students rank in the upper half of their graduating class, or maintain a high school GPA of 2.5. Standardized test scores are, of course, optional. Also, it’s only an hour-and-a-half away from Yellowstone National Park. That’s pretty neat.

10. George Washington University

George Washington University 
Courtesy of The George Washington University.

Another D.C. school with a reputation for having a politically-active student body, George Washington University just became a test-optional college as of August 1, 2015. They’re all about giving students a right to choose. If an applicant thinks their test scores are awesome, they’re more than welcome to submit; if not, it won’t effect the admissions decision.

Even though some colleges have gone test-optional, there are still many that require your standardized test scores. Use Unigo Test Prep to boost your SAT and ACT scores and cast yourself a wide net of colleges to apply to.

About the author

Maria is a recent graduate from Lewis & Clark College. She enjoys binge-watching all movies on Netflix, traveling, and reading food blogs. Hobbies also include staring longingly at the outdoors from her cubicle.