Online College that Don't Require SAT or ACT
The ACT and SAT are two common college entrance exams. SAT stands for Scholastic Aptitude Test. ACT stands for American College Testing.
Some schools do not require the SAT or ACT. Prospective students who cannot access testing or those with test anxiety can explore online colleges that don't require SAT or ACT scores. FairTest, a national center for open testing, lists schools that do not require these exams.
This guide covers the pros and cons of withholding scores. Read on for test-out policies and tips for those who opt out.
Frequently Asked Questions About College SAT and ACT Requirements
Can you get into college without taking the SAT?
Yes. Students can attend college without taking the SAT test. Some schools require the ACT test. Other schools do not require either test.
Do all colleges require the ACT?
Not all colleges require the ACT. Some schools require the SAT. Many schools do not require either.
Is the ACT easier than the SAT?
These tests are similar in terms of difficulty. They cover similar topics and require the same level of logic.
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Types of Test-Optional Policies
Some schools and universities waive SAT and ACT requirements. These institutions consider other factors to predict how well applicants will perform academically. The COVID-19 pandemic led to more schools opting out of SAT and ACT requirements. Lockdowns and other restrictions prevented many learners from taking the SAT or ACT.
Test-Optional CollegeApplicants at test-optional schools do not need to take the SAT or ACT. However, these schools may offer academic scholarships based on test scores. Learners may benefit from taking these exams. Competitive schools may offer priority admission to applicants with high scores. Learners should consider taking these exams and submit them if they earn high scores.
Test-flexible colleges follow a similar policy as test-optional schools. These institutions allow learners to submit multiple types of standardized tests. Applicants should only submit scores if they enhance their application. Some test-flexible schools accept the International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement exam scores.
There is no standardized definition of a test-flexible college. Students can contact prospective schools to learn exact qualifications.
Unlike test-optional and test-flexible colleges, test-blind colleges do not accept standardized test scores. Applicants may not submit these scores at all.
Test-blind colleges examine high school transcripts, resumes, and recommendation letters. These institutions usually require application essays. Some include an interview process.
Why More Colleges Are Going Test-Optional
In the past, community colleges were the only schools that did not require ACT or SAT scores. The COVID-19 pandemic and other factors led to an increase in test-optional schools. In fact, some organizations advocate for test-optional admissions. See below for two reasons.
Not all students perform well on standardized tests. Some learners experience test anxiety despite retaining information well. Some data show that GPAs predict college success better than these exam scores. In fact, high school GPAs have been shown to be five times better than ACT scores at >predicting graduation rates.
Biases sometimes exist in standardized testing. One study found Asian American and white students averaged scores higher than 1100 on the SAT. Learners from all other groups averaged below 1000. Income may also influence students' performance. Learners with family incomes less than $20,000 received an average score of 433 on the ACT reading section. Students with a family income above $200,000 received an average score of 570.
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Pros and Cons of Test-Optional Schools
Students may like the sound of skipping the SAT or ACT. However, learners should weigh the pros and cons of test-optional schools. The right choice depends on students' current situation and future goals. See below for some points to consider.
Who Does Not Need to Submit Test Scores?
Learners applying to test-optional colleges do not need to submit their scores. Some colleges with ACT and SAT requirements may offer waivers to students with documented disabilities.
Some students may benefit from withholding their test scores. Learners with excellent GPAs who did not score high on the exams may want to withhold their scores.
Learners who need a merit-based scholarship to pay for school may need to submit these scores. Students who scored well on the ACT or SAT but lack a strong GPA should consider submitting their scores.
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Tips for Those Who Opt Out
Test-optional and test-flexible schools do not require standardized tests. Applicants should put extra effort into other application components. Read on to learn how to enhance other application areas.
Withholding Test Scores: Things to Keep in Mind
Merit-Based ScholarshipsSome merit-based scholarships require SAT or ACT scores. Scholarships from test-optional schools or third-party organizations require these scores. Merit scholarships from test-blind schools rely on a student's cumulative GPA to allocate funds.
Class PlacementSome schools use SAT and ACT scores to place students in advanced courses. For example, learners who score well on the SAT math portion can sometimes take advanced math during their first year. Students who withhold their scores may need to take an introductory math class.
NCAA Division AthletesStudents involved in competitive sports may need to submit their test scores. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) requires test scores for Division II athletes.
Out-of-State StudentsSome state-funded universities place additional requirements on out-of-state applicants. This usually does not apply to out-of-state students attending online colleges that don't require SAT or ACT scores.
Score ChoiceScore Choice lets test-takers choose which test attempts to send to their colleges. This means students can choose their highest score.
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