SAT-Optional Colleges

Not every college requires a standardized test score. Here’s a look at some of the more noted options for those without an SAT or ACT.

The SAT is a proven indicator of a student’s GPA their first semester of college.

But what about those students who are just bad at taking tests?

Fortunately there are a number of colleges to choose from that don’t require standardized test scores. And while most colleges require some sort of standardized score, there over 830 colleges that don’t.

Keep in mind, many colleges that don’t require SATs and/or ACTs are specialized, and may not be exactly what you’re looking for. But the list is long, and full of options. Here are few highlights.

College of the Atlantic
This school is definitely for those who question the order of things. That’s one of its main tenets – question everything. There is only one major – Human Ecology. That basically means you get to create your own major, taking any courses that interest you. Located in Maine, the College of the Atlantic is well-respected for its alternative thinking.

Holy Cross
There are a number of religious schools that don’t require an SAT or ACT score – but Holy Cross is one of the most mainstream options. You don’t need to follow a religious path to thrive here. Indeed, some famous alumni include Dave “J.D.” Power of ratings fame, and Bill Simmons, a well-known sports columnist for ESPN.

Bennington College
Located in Bennington, Vermont, Bennington College is a very well rated liberal arts college. While not as extreme as the College of the Atlantic, Bennington students are also expected to design their own course of study.

St. John’s College
There’s a decent chance you’ve heard of St. John’s unusual course of study. It’s called the Great Books program – and it’s based on the belief that studying the greatest thinkers throughout history will give you the greatest knowledge and analytical tools when you graduate. St. John’s, set in the historic Maryland capital of Annapolis, launched its Great Books program in 1937.

The University of Arizona
That’s right – you can attend a public school without the SAT! While some public university systems allow admission to satellite campuses without a standardized test, the University of Arizona is one of the few main campuses available to non-test-takers. Here, you’ll find all that you’d expect from a major public university – including, of course, the discount price tag.

Wake Forest University
North Carolina’s Wake Forest was originally a Baptist school, but now it’s plenty more. Most recently ranked 25th in the US World and News Report, Wake Forest does even better with regard to its undergraduate teaching. Wake is 12th there, and #1 in academic quality amongst business schools (14th overall).

Drew University
While Drew University was originally a theological school and is still associated with the Methodist church, it makes no religious demands on its students. Drew is nicknamed The University in the Forest, due to its bucolic setting in northern New Jersey. It’s a short trip from New York City, and is regularly recognized as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the nation.

Providence College
This small catholic liberal arts school is the only one in North America administered by the Dominican Order of Friars. It’s one of only a few schools in the country that requires students to complete 20 credits in the Development of Western Civilization, a core component of Providence’s educational philosophy and fields of expertise. It’s often considered one of the best regional schools in the northeast.

Not surprisingly, like most religious schools and liberal arts colleges, you’ll also find that many trade schools and design or art colleges also tend to distance themselves from standardized tests.

To your successful college search,

Scott Weingold

Related Article:

SAT Optional Colleges, Part 2

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1 Comment

Tamara McTernanOctober 25th, 2010 at 11:53 am

Thank you

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News,, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.