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20 Top-Ranked Colleges That Are Flexible With Test Scores

Kelly Mae Ross, Ilana Kowarski, Josh Moody

Test scores aren't everything.

Not all students are strong test-takers. The good news for these prospective undergraduates is that an increasing number of colleges have embraced test-flexible or test-optional policies that allow some students to qualify for admission without submitting SAT or ACT scores. Among the highest-ranked National Universities and National Liberal Arts Colleges with flexible or optional testing policies, some schools require students to demonstrate their academic abilities in other ways, such as by writing essays, assembling a work portfolio or submitting results from Advanced Placement exams. Others provide that flexibility to only certain types of students, such as those who are interested in specific college majors. The following 20 colleges and universities were identified based on self-reported data from an annual U.S. News survey, and are listed in descending rank order beginning with National Universities. Be sure to consult each college's website for more information about admissions policies. For a complete list of test-flexible schools, visit the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

University of Chicago

School rank and category: 6 (tie), National Universities

Test submission policy: The University of Chicago doesn't require standardized test scores for domestic students. Those outside the U.S. are required to submit "some form of standardized testing." While the University of Chicago is test-optional, the school will consider SAT and ACT scores as part of its admissions process, according to the college's website.

More about the University of Chicago.

Wake Forest University (NC)

School rank and category: 27, National Universities

Test submission policy: Wake Forest doesn't require standardized test scores for domestic students. International students must provide scores from the TOEFL or IELTS exam with their application.

More about Wake Forest University.

New York University

School rank and category: 29 (tie), National Universities

Test submission policy: Students choose which standardized test scores to submit. Applicants to NYU artistic programs that require either an audition or portfolio are not obligated to submit a test score.

More about New York University.

University of Rochester (NY)

School rank and category: 29 (tie), National Universities

Test submission policy: Candidates applying for admission to the college's freshman class can choose which standardized test scores to submit, if any. Transfer applicants who have not completed their first year of college must submit standardized test results, but transfer applicants with more than a year of college-level courses are not obligated to submit a test score. International students are required to demonstrate English-language proficiency by submitting test scores such as the TOEFL or IELTS, according to the school's website.

More about the University of Rochester.

Boston University

School rank and category: 40 (tie), National Universities

Test submission policy: U.S. students are required to submit either their SAT or ACT score, unless they are applying to the College of Fine Arts. Students at high schools outside the U.S. who have completed the IB diploma program are not obligated to submit SAT or ACT scores, unless they are applying for the BU Trustee Scholarship, according to the school's website. Applicants to the accelerated medical program must provide SAT subject tests.

More about Boston University.

Brandeis University (MA)

School rank and category: 40 (tie), National Universities

Test submission policy: U.S. and Canadian citizens or permanent residents can choose whether to submit SAT or ACT scores. If students would prefer not to provide these scores, they can instead assemble an academic portfolio or submit results from three Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or SAT II exams that are on the list of tests that Brandeis accepts in lieu of SAT or ACT scores. However, home-schooled students, international applicants and GED recipients must submit either SAT or ACT scores. International applicants must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores if English is not their native language or the language of instruction at their high school.

More about Brandeis University.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY)

School rank and category: 50 (tie), National Universities

Test submission policy: Most students are allowed to self-report SAT and ACT scores, with some exceptions for those applying to accelerated law or medicine programs, which require scores to be sent from the testing agency. A TOEFL score is also required for applicants who are nonnative English speakers, according to the school's website.

More about Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA)

School rank and category: 64 (tie), National Universities

Test submission policy: Worcester Polytechnic Institute doesn't require standardized test scores for domestic students. International students must demonstrate English-language proficiency by submitting exam scores such as the TOEFL or IELTS, but SAT and ACT scores are not required.

More about Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

George Washington University (DC)

School rank and category: 70 (tie), National Universities

Test submission policy: GWU doesn't require standardized test scores, with some exceptions for students who are applying to the accelerated B.A./M.D. program, home-schooled applicants, those who attended high schools that did not provide standard grading scales and NCAA Division I athletes recruited by the university.

More about George Washington University.

American University (DC)

School rank and category: 77 (tie), National Universities

Test submission policy: American University doesn't require standardized test scores for U.S. or international students, though a TOEFL score may be required if a student hasn't had four years of study in English. SAT subject tests are recommended, but not required, for home-schooled applicants.

More about American University.

Bowdoin College (ME)

School rank and category: 6, National Liberal Arts Colleges

Test submission policy: Bowdoin doesn't require standardized test scores for most students, but home-schooled students and nontraditional secondary school students whose school provides a narrative transcript rather than an ordinary transcript with grades must provide test scores. International students who have not had four years of English-based instruction must submit results from an English proficiency exam, and if they took a national university entrance exam as part of their schooling, they must report the results of that exam.

More about Bowdoin College.

Middlebury College (VT)

School rank and category: 7 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

Test submission policy: Students choose which standardized test scores to submit. Middlebury requires international students to submit either ACT, SAT or SAT subject test results and proof of English proficiency, such as the TOEFL or IELTS, if they are nonnative speakers or English isn't their school's primary language of instruction.

More about Middlebury College.

Colby College (ME)

School rank and category: 11 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

Test submission policy: Colby College doesn't require domestic students to submit standardized test scores. International applicants must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores if English is not their first language or their current language of instruction.

More about Colby College.

Smith College (MA)

School rank and category: 11 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

Test submission policy: Smith College doesn't require U.S. citizens and permanent residents to take standardized tests, but it does mandate that international students submit SAT or ACT scores as well as TOEFL or IELTS results.

More about Smith College.

Hamilton College (NY)

School rank and category: 14 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

Test submission policy: Students choose which standardized test scores to submit. International students must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores unless they attended a school with an English-language curriculum or are native speakers.

More about Hamilton College.

Wesleyan University (CT)

School rank and category: 17 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

Test submission policy: Wesleyan doesn't typically require standardized test scores. However, students who are home-schooled, attend schools without traditional grades or who went to an online high school must submit scores. Also, all international students whose first language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency. International students are required to submit either results from a national examination, such as the A-levels in the U.K., or standardized test results from the SAT or ACT.

More about Wesleyan University.

Bates College (ME)

School rank and category: 21 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

Test submission policy: Bates doesn't require standardized test scores for native English speakers. However, applicants who are nonnative speakers must provide results from an English proficiency test such as the TOEFL or IELTS.

More about Bates College.

Bryn Mawr College (PA)

School rank and category: 27 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

Test submission policy: Bryn Mawr doesn't require standardized test scores, with exceptions for international students.

More about Bryn Mawr College.

College of the Holy Cross (MA)

School rank and category: 27 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

Test submission policy: Holy Cross doesn't require standardized test scores for most students. One exception is that nonnative English speakers must provide results from an English proficiency exam such as the TOEFL or IELTS as part of their application.

More about College of the Holy Cross.

Colorado College

School rank and category: 27 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

Test submission policy: Submitting standardized test scores is optional for most applicants, with exceptions for international students, those who were home-schooled or attended a secondary school with grading structures that provided written evaluations instead of letter grades, and for NCAA Division I athletes.

More about Colorado College.

Learn more about test-flexible schools.

Discover the types of students who might benefit from test-flexible admissions and what international students should know about test-optional schools. Also, connect with U.S. News Education on Facebook and Twitter for more education tips and news.

Top test-flexible and test-optional schools

National Universities:

-- University of Chicago

-- Wake Forest University

-- New York University

-- University of Rochester

-- Boston University

-- Brandeis University

-- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

-- Worcester Polytechnic Institute

-- George Washington University

-- American University

National Liberal Arts Colleges:

-- Bowdoin College

-- Middlebury College

-- Colby College

-- Smith College

-- Hamilton College

-- Wesleyan University

-- Bates College

-- Bryn Mawr College

-- College of the Holy Cross

-- Colorado College



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