Colleges Are Dropping ACT, SAT Requirements: A Look at Schools That Don't Use Test Scores

A record number of colleges and universities are eliminating the SAT and ACT as a requirement in their admissions process.

In fact, as many as one in four have stopped using the standardized tests for admissions, Michael Nietzel, president emeritus of Missouri State University, told PBS News Hour.

By doing that, they are looking to bring in more students of color, low-income students and other underrepresented populations that might not otherwise be admitted to a school they could succeed in. For example, a June analysis of the 200 most selective schools that follow this practice, conducted by the Center on Education and the Workforce, showed that if the schools selected students based on the SAT alone, more than half of the new admittees would not have been accepted. In addition, the student body would be more affluent and less racially or ethnically diverse.

Bowdoin College in Maine has not required standardized test scores since 1969.

"Our applicant pool has grown tremendously and become more diverse in every possible way," Dean of Admissions and Student Aid E. Whitney Soule told Newsweek. "Before 1969, testing was required, it was one of the many academic requirements for review in the application." And since 1969, other academic requirements are highlighted within the selection process. While our testing policy is not directly responsible for shifts in our applicant pool over so much time, it has remained an influential aspect of our work."

"The pioneering move to remove the requirement was an early signal and an example of Bowdoin's commitment to emphasizing a review of a whole person, with all the dimensions of a personality and life experience that are not quantifiable, which remains a foundation in our approach to admission review and selection."

Student holding a pencil
Some students applying to college are not being required to submit ACT and SAT scores. Ben Mullins/Unsplash

Diversity isn't the sole factor behind the decision to stop using the tests for admission. Higher learning institutions also say they recognize that cheating and the affordability of tutoring or access to other resources can create advantages for some students that others don't have. As a result, a standardized test isn't always that useful, administrators say.

Prospective college students who are interested in a test-optional school don't have to look far. This list isn't inclusive, but it contains some of the nation's top schools that will admit students based on more than just a score.

  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Texas
  • Washington State University
  • University of Houston
  • Texas Tech University
  • University of Chicago
  • Wake Forest University
  • New York University
  • University of Rochester
  • University of San Francisco
  • Boston University
  • American University
  • Rollins College
  • University of Evansville
  • Ithaca College