One challenge. One test. One ridiculously difficult task that more or less determines your future. Some have been preparing for years; some are dragged in hoping for the best. This isn’t the Hunger Games; this is standardized testing.

SATs and ACTs were once considered the “make or break” factor for admissions. Your score, the result of a few hours on a Saturday morning, could more or less decide where you were going to apply. Doing well could write your ticket to the school of your dreams, and doing not-so-well might crush any chances you thought you had.

But after reports on reports on reports came out citing their ineffectiveness at determining college preparedness, and other issues with the test, some schools have decided to embrace the future and kick those tests to the curb.

Yes, There are colleges that no longer require you to submit an SAT or ACT.

If you have great grades, extracurriculars, and personal qualities but your test scores are a bit lacking, test optional might be the way to go for you.

Sufferers of test anxiety rejoice, there are safe harbors waiting for you. If you can’t afford to prep, or you just don’t pull off the scores that you think you should be getting, test-optional is a great choice to consider. These schools understand that standardized tests have a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t work for every type of student. And so, they create ways that students can succeed with them.

HERE is one of the best, most comprehensive lists of test optional schools. There are some great, highly selective schools on that list if you care to take a peek. Also remember, just because a school is test optional doesn’t mean you have to apply test optional if your scores are great.

But what are some of these colleges that are test option, you asking? Well, there’s:

  • American University
  • Bard College
  • Bennington College
  • Bowdoin College
  • College of the Atlantic
  • Connecticut College
  • Drew University
  • Providence College
  • Wheaton College

But when you’re thinking about applying test-optional schools, make sure to check out what else the school requires. Some will require an extra essay or interview to flesh out why tests aren’t your strength, or highlight how great your other qualities are. Some will require alternate tests (like APs, IBs, SAT IIS) to demonstrate your strengths in areas that you are strong in. While you may not be great in say, math and English, maybe you’re great at languages or sciences.

So if tests aren’t your forte, you’re not out of the college admissions battle for good. Take a look at some test optional schools that will see past your numbers into the other qualities you have.



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the author

Jillian is better known by her pseudonym “CollegeApp Chick", which is half college application blog and half small private college advising business. She’s currently studying Psychology and Religious Studies at a small public school south of the Mason Dixon line. When not advising, studying, or blogging Jillian is an active member of the Shakespeare theatre club, sandbox improv, women’s chorus, and is an officer in a social sorority. She likes to talk, a lot. Most importantly, Jillian wears dresses more than 250 days a year. For more of Jillian’s tips, find her at her website or her Tumblr.

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