SAT-Optional Colleges, Part 2

Some colleges don’t need to see your SAT or ACT score to admit you. Do know the rules, though, before you apply.

When readying your applications for college, the SAT is always one of the most important components, right?


While the SAT and ACT will always remain an important part of the college application process, more and more schools are looking at the SAT as an optional part of an applicant’s package. More and more schools are looking at the studies which show, SAT scores do a wonderful job of predicting GPA for the first semester of college… and little else.

To be clear, the SAT and ACT scores are so ingrained in the process – and such a helpful way to sort students – that there’s no chance they’ll be disappearing anytime soon.

That said, over 830 colleges don’t require the SAT in their applications, to one degree or another.

There are seven variations on the SAT-optional theme:

  • SAT/ACT used only for placement and academic advising (such as determining at which language level you should start).
  • SAT/ACT only required for out-of-state students.
  • SAT/ACT only required if a minimum GPA or minimum class rank isn’t met.
  • SAT/ACT is required only for certain programs within the school (such as pre-med requires it, but history majors get a pass).
  • SAT/ACT not required if you submit an International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, SAT II, or other accepted test.
  • SAT/ACT not required if you submit a COMPASS, Stanford Achievement Test, CPAT, WAIS, college entrance exam, TABE, or ASSET test.
  • With a GPA of 3.5, a combined score of 400 on the SAT critical reading and math sections is required to meet minimum requirements, but the score is not looked at beyond that.

It’s worth noting that, of the 830+ colleges that don’t require an SAT, a large number of them are distance learning or religious universities. But not all. Below, you’ll find a list of ten well-known colleges that fall under at least one of the rubrics above.

Utica College Located in central New York, Utica prides itself on offering everything you could find at a larger university, but in an intimate, liberal arts-type setting. Although fairly young by university standards – Utica was only founded in 1946 – it was originally founded by Syracuse, and still shares a close relationship with its elder sibling.

Lawrence University As stated by the college, Lawrence University is located in a small city… or a big town, depending on your perspective. It’s in Appleton, Wisconsin, along the banks of the northward-flowing Fox River. Although a complete liberal arts college, Lawrence University is best known for it’s music conservatory, which is considered world-class.

Franklin and Marshall Yes, the Franklin is Benjamin Franklin, who made the founding of the university possible with a gift of 200 pounds in 1787. F&M is located in one of the more fascinating spots on the east coast – Lancaster, PA, home of the Amish. Although F&M isn’t small – boasting over 2,200 students – it has an outstanding student-to-faculty ratio of 10:1, and the average class size is only 19.

George Mason University Located right outside DC, this university has a decidedly international flavor – standing out even now, when all colleges make an effort to diversify. In fact, Mason is opening up a satellite campus in the United Arab Emirates. With Nobel laureate staff and division I sports, George Mason is one of the finest institutions that doesn’t require an SAT score (only needed if minimum GPA isn’t met).

Bowdoin College This is one of the most selective and sought after liberal arts colleges in the country. On the coast of Maine, Bowdoin boasts small class sizes, intimate settings, and a learning experience that’s as much based on exploring the nature of the north as it is in the classroom. You won’t find military hopefuls here, but free thinkers are in abundance.

Hilbert College About 10 minutes outside Buffalo and near Erie Lake, Hilbert is a Catholic school, in the Franciscan tradition. However, one needn’t come here to study theology – nor have any particular religious affiliation. Like most religious schools, Hilbert has expanded its mission, and moved beyond its Franciscan past (even Harvard started out as a seminary).

California College of the Arts CCoA has two campuses – in Oakland and San Francisco. It’s hard to think of a better place to find America’s avant garde artistic pulse. Although known for it’s design, art, architecture, and writing programs, CCoA offers more – such as a master’s in business administration. If you’re thinking of working in museums or art galleries, it’s hard to think of a better place to blend your needed skill sets.

Alabama State University ASU is one of the oldest universities originally founded for black students, in the days of segregation. In 1867, just after the Civil War ended, nine freed slaves raised $500 to start the college, and ASU hasn’t looked back since. Today, it accepts students of all colors and creeds, and its location in Montgomery gives it a unique perspective on the civil rights movement.

Lake Forest College Located in the eponymous Illinois town of the same name, Lake Forest is one of the best values in the country. The Princeton Review consistently ranks it amongst the top 13 colleges in student satisfaction with financial aid, and its generous policies combined with world-class scholars are a good reason. Lake Forest also has a thriving internship program, sending students as near as Chicago, and as far as Mexico and Tunisia.

School of the Art Institute of Chicago One of the most prestigious art schools in the nation, if not the world, the Art Institute of Chicago is not for pushovers. While consistently rated one of the finest art schools in the nation, SAIC demands rigorous cross-disciplinary training as well. Attending SAIC, you won’t have to worry over getting a full education – here, you’ll get a fine liberal arts breadth, while still diving deep into the medium of your choice.

For more information on these schools – and hundreds of other SAT-optional colleges, along with the various SAT rules for each – visit this extremely helpful page.

To your successful college admissions,

Jodi Polster,

Education Director,


Related Article:

SAT-Optional Colleges

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1 Comment

dybloanMay 8th, 2011 at 10:06 pm

That is a very informative and usful post

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