High school students typically spend their junior and senior years taking the SAT or ACT, studying long hours in hopes for a high score to boost their admission chances. While there’s no doubt that standardized testing has played a large role in college acceptance over the years, it’s certainly not the only factor at play. Some schools have decided to become test-optional.
In fact, there are more and more colleges becoming test-optional, which means that students aren’t required to send in their ACT or SAT scores. Some of the schools on this list might still consider scores that are sent in, while others don’t factor in standardized scores at all—believing in a more holistic approach.
For this list, we selected the highest ranking schools that do not require students to submit ACT or SAT scores for admission.
However, keep in mind that home-schooled students or non-US citizens may still have to submit their test scores for certain programs.
From private to public, research to liberal arts, from art schools to polytechnic institutes, and everything in between, you’ll discover a variety of schools are test-optional in the list below.
This private research university is affiliated with 90 Nobel laureates, one of the highest concentrations of laureates in the world. The University of Chicago also houses the largest university press in America, the University of Chicago Press. The university’s most popular major is Econometrics and Quantitative Economics.
In addition to the college’s location in Brunswick, Bowdoin also possesses a coastal studies center near Casco Bay. The college stresses a well-rounded academic plan, with requirements in various subjects, including a heavy writing course required during a student’s first year. They have a highly selective acceptance rate of 10%.
Like the other US military academies, the US Coast Guard Academy does not have an application fee. USCGA has an acceptance rate of 19% and a four year graduation rate of 81%. Many of the first year students come from Virginia, California, and Florida. Their mascot is Objee the Bear, named after a famous Coast Guard ship.
Colby College is home to Morty the Mule, beloved mascot of the Mules sports teams. The average ACT and SAT scores of incoming students ranges between 31--33 and 1,350--1,510. Approximately 48% of students receive grant aid. Colby has a six year graduation rate of 90%.
The renowned music school is highly competitive when it comes to admissions---with an 8% acceptance rate. Along with test scores and recommendations, an audition required component when applying to Juilliard. The school has extremely small class sizes, with 5 students for every 1 faculty member.
The University of Rochester is selective, with an acceptance rate of 29%. The school has a variety of popular majors including Nursing, Biology, Economics, and Music Performance. The University of Rochester’s motto, translated from Latin, means “Always Better.” The reality of this motto on campus can be seen through the many alumni who strive for excellence; this includes Nobel Prize and Pulitzer Prize winners.
Bryn Mawr is historically known to be the first women's college to offer graduate level education, including a PhD. The college is affiliated with multiple other organizations and colleges, including Oberlin College and the Seven Sisters, a group of elite women’s colleges. The school’s colors are yellow and white.
As a women’s school, Smith College has an all female population, accepting over 1,500 students out of approximately 5,800 applicants. The selectivity of the school may explain the small class sizes, with about 9 students for every 1 faculty member. The top 5 most popular majors include Experimental Psychology, Economics, Political Science, Biology, and Engineering.
Located near the Connecticut River, Wesleyan University has an acceptance rate of just 17%. On average, incoming freshmen score between 29 and 33 on the ACT, and between 1300 and 1480 on the SAT. Wesleyan belongs to a group called the Little Three, which is a rivalry between Amherst, Williams College, and Wesleyan.
The university has a tremendous student life, with over 500 student athletes and approximately 450 student organizations available on campus. This school’s mascot is, fittingly, George Washington himself. This school is located in the iconic Foggy Bottom, one of the oldest communities in DC.
Thomas Nelson Haskell founded Colorado College in 1874, in honor of his daughter. Accepted students have an average ACT score ranging from 27 to 32, and an average SAT score between 1,220 and 1,430. Colorado College is also quite unique---it has a block plan, where students take an intensive course for 3 and a half weeks, followed by 4 and a half days off.
Wake Forest has a rather oxymoronic team name---the Demon Deacons. The tuxedo-wearing mascot often rides into sports stadiums on a motorcycle. Wake Forest has a competitive acceptance rate of 29%. Nearly 19% of the first-year student body comes from North Carolina.
The College of the Holy Cross has a variety of popular majors including Economics, Psychology, Political Science, and Biology. 95% of first year students decide to return after their first year. Some alumni have gone on to win incredible awards, including Tonys, Pulitzers, Nobel Prizes, Emmys, and more.
Mount Holyoke is the oldest of the Seven Sisters schools, initially formed to offer women an Ivy League education. Today, Mount Holyoke is one of the five Seven Sister schools who are still women-only schools, and the first to offer admission to transgender women and non-binary students.
Trinity College has an acceptance rate of 34%, accepting about 2,070 students out of nearly 6,100 applicants. The school’s colors are blue and old gold. Most uniquely, their mascot is a Bantam, a type of small bird--usually portrayed as a chicken. Popular sports on campus include ice hockey, lacrosse, squash, and wrestling.
Bates College is quite a selective school, with only 18% of applicants receiving an acceptance letter. Accepted students score between 27 to 31 on the ACT compositely, and 1,280 to 1,430 on the SAT. Popular majors at the school include Economics, Political Science and Psychology.
Unlike many schools, Union’s motto is French--“Sous les lois de Minerve nous devenons tous frères et sœurs”--which means “Under the laws of Minerva, we all become brothers and sisters.” Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom. Students at this college wear only one school color: Union garnet.
Connecticut College was founded in 1911 and was originally a women’s college, before becoming co-ed in 1969. Today, men make up around 39% of the student body, and women make up the other 61%. Their motto is “Tanquam lignum quod plantatum est secus decursus aquarum,” or “Like a tree planted by rivers of water.”
As the highest degree offered is the bachelor’s, you’ll only find undergrad students studying at Whitman College. The school has an acceptance rate of 50%, receiving around 5,225 applications and accepting just over 2,610 of them. Notable alumni include actor Adam West and writer / director Rick Stevenson.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute boasts a very impressive 96% freshman retention rate. The institute’s focus lies in the name: popular majors include Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, and Electrical Engineering. Besides academics, WPI is also home to over 600 student athletes.
Founded in 1903, Skidmore was originally an all women's school. Nowadays, while the school accepts all genders, Skidmore College is selective and accepts only 27% of applicants. Class sizes are also relatively small, with 8 students for every 1 faculty member. Popular majors include Business, Psychology, and English.
Throughout its timeline, this school has had a mascot of a friar, a dalmatian, and a french bulldog. The mascots can be seen cheering at a variety of sports games, especially with Providence college classified in the NCAA Division I (without football). Students wear black and white while cheering on the Friars.
Denison is the second-oldest liberal arts college in Ohio, and is a rather selective school. The average ACT and SAT scores of admitted students is between 28--31 and 1,210--1,380 respectively. The school has a four year graduation rate of 82% and smaller class sizes, with 9 students for every 1 faculty member.
Pitzer College was originally a women’s college, before becoming coeducational in 1970. Their mascot is Cecil the Sagehen. Pitzer offers a wide variety of programs and majors despite being a small school. The most popular majors include Mass Communication / Media Studies, Psychology, and Environmental Science.
Founded as a Baptist theological school in 1826, the school is now considered secular though it maintains several elements of its religiously affiliated history. The school motto, for example, is Christo et Doctrinae---for Christ and Learning. Their mascot, fittingly, is a Paladin. Furman has an acceptance rate of 61%, and a six year graduation rate of 80%.
Colleges are ranked based on a combination of factors, including graduation rates, campus diversity, endowment per student, and other data as reported via the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) for the most recently-available enrollment year. Some colleges may have been excluded from rankings based on certain criteria, including specialization and classification. Learn about our full methodology.
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