2021 Best Test Optional Schools Curated by Colleges of Distinction

Ana-Marcela Lopez / Colleges of Distinction »

Test scores are not everything and many colleges, prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, have eliminated the standardized test as a conditional requirement of admission. Colleges are adapting to the needs of students during the pandemic, which is why many of them have adopted a test-optional policy for the Fall 2021 semester. At Colleges of Distinction, we applaud schools that put student needs first. Here are 20 schools that are helping students navigate an especially turbulent admissions process: 


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  1. Agnes Scott College: Agnes Scott College has operated on a test-optional policy well before the pandemic. Students can choose one of three options to represent their academic achievement: SAT/ACT scores, an evaluative interview with an Agnes Scott admission counselor, or an analytical or critical graded writing sample, including a description of the assignment, teacher comments and the grade. Students who do not submit their test scores are still considered for all merit scholarships!

  2. Ball State University: In 2018, Ball State University adopted a test optional policy to give students the ability to decide how best to demonstrate their academic achievement. Do you want to submit scores, but that pesky pandemic is standing in your way? Don’t worry, Ball State operates on a rolling admission policy, so you won’t miss any deadlines. You can submit your application and the university will hold your application until your test scores come in.

  3. California State University, Long Beach: For Fall 2021 students are not required to take the SAT and/or ACT to be considered for admission. Instead, students are evaluated based on their “CSULB Index”. The “CSULB Index” is the result of a formula that combines your achievement in high school college preparatory courses. 3.0 GPA or greater in college preparatory subjects.

  4. Curry College: Curry College no longer requires SAT/ACT scores to be submitted for applicants in any academic program. No matter your choice of major, you can opt out of submitting test scores with your application.

  5. DeSales University  : DeSales University has adopted a test optional policy for the Fall 2021 semester. SAT scores are typically recommended for students applying for Nursing, Medical Studies, and Health Sciences programs; check with your admissions counselors for updates on this policy.

  6. Eastern Oregon University : Eastern Oregon University has had a test optional admissions policy in place for several years. And as of last year, Eastern Oregon University no longer requires standardized test results for financial aid!

  7. Gonzaga University : Gonzaga University no longer requires an SAT or ACT score to be submitted for admission. Whether or not you submit scores has no impact on your admission, eligibility for scholarships, or honors program placement.

  8. Hardin-Simmons University : Hardin-Simmons University is test optional for fall 2021. Students can indicate on their application whether or not they want their test scores evaluated for admission (even if you’ve already sent in scores). Academic scholarships are still available to those without test scores.

  9. Iona College : For incoming freshmen, SAT and/or ACT scores are not required. Iona College takes a holistic approach in reviewing high school transcripts, student interviews, and teacher recommendations for each applicant.

  10. Kalamazoo College: Kalamazoo College determines admission by “high school grade point average, academic rigor of the high school curriculum, the application essay, and participation in co-curricular activities.” Students can submit additional material like test scores and letters of recommendation.

  11. Kean University: Kean University no longer requires SAT/ACT scores as part of the application for admission. “The Office of Admissions uses alternate indicators to evaluate college preparedness, including but not limited to courses taken, grade point averages, class rank and essays provided by the students.”

  12. Le Moyne College : Le Moyne Admissions looks at “entirety of an applicant’s experience” but does not require SAT/ACT scores to be submitted as part of your application. However, if you do send scores they will be evaluated and factored in to the admission decision.

  13. Old Dominion University : Old Dominion’s “Test Optional” program for Freshmen Admissions allows students to submit an application and be evaluated for admission without SAT/ACT scores. Students can still submit test scores for merit-based scholarships without having them impact their application.

  14. Portland State University : Portland State University does not require SAT/ACT scores to be submitted with an application to be considered for admission. If you choose to submit scores, they can be sent separately or on your high school transcript.

  15. Quinnipiac University : Quinnipiac University does not require test scores to be submitted for all applicants in most majors. However, depending on your chosen major SAT/ACT scores may be recommended or required to submit.

  16. Roanoke College: Instead of focusing on test scores, Roanoke College evaluates applicants on your high school transcript, interest in Roanoke, resume, essay, and letter of recommendation. Submitting test scores is optional and will only be considered if you choose to include them in your application (for admission and/or merit scholarships).

  17. Shenandoah University : Shenandoah University does not require students to submit SAT/ACT scores with their application. The Musical Theatre and Nursing applications are separate, so if you’re interested in those programs check their specific requirements.

  18. Trinity University : Trinity University assesses academic record, personal essay, extracurricular activities, and recommendations in their admissions process. Starting for fall 2021 Trinity no longer requires test scores to be submitted for evaluation in the admissions process.

  19. University of Redlands: In effect for fall 2021, University of Redlands will be test optional for students submitting applications. Instead of focusing on test scores, admissions counselors will focus more on other components of the application like high school GPA, writing ability, and community contributions.

  20. Xavier University of Louisiana : Xavier applications no longer require test scores. Xavier evaluates letters of recommendation, high school transcript, essay, and resume. Regardless of if you submit test scores, you can still be considered for scholarships.

At Colleges of Distinction, we hand-pick and individually review all of our schools to see how they help students learn, grow, and succeed. We believe that a thorough selection process requires so much more than an overview of institutional data and statistics. After all, college is such a formative part of a young adult’s life; the everyday experience is too subjective to be measured, so we determine quality by the way a school supports students in all aspects of their lives.