SAT ACT Test Optional

[Updated] Colleges That Are Going Test-Optional This Year

Also in: 简中 (Simplified Chinese) 繁中 (Traditional Chinese)

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many colleges are changing their testing policy to “test optional” this year. Here, we collected the announcements from 110+ schools to help students search for their schools.

What Are the Different Testing Policies?

Colleges have the following 4 policies for submitting standardized test scores:

1. “Test Required”

Most colleges fall within this category, requiring students to submit SAT or ACT scores in order to apply. All colleges will only require 1 test between SAT and ACT, and no college will require students to take both.

Among these schools that are test-required, some schools ask students to submit all test scores, including the ones that you did poorly. However, some schools allow students to pick the scores that they wish to submit, so students can choose only the one or few tests with their highest scores.

Recently, Yale announced that their testing policy this year will be test-required, but students are allowed to choose the scores they submit:

2. “Test Optional”

These schools make submitting standardized test scores optional. Students who do poorly on the SAT or ACT often choose to apply to these schools. However, in my recent YouTube video (sorry it’s in Chinese), I mentioned that test-optional schools are not necessarily easier to apply. In addition, if a student submits his or her good SAT/ACT scores to test-optional schools, this will help him increase his chances.

3. “Test Flexible”

These schools require students to submit something besides their school GPA, but they allow the score to be something other than the SAT or ACT. For example, the standardized testing policy for NYU states that, in addition to submitting SAT or ACT scores, students can use IB, AP, or SAT2 test scores instead.

4. “Test Blind”

These schools do not require SAT/ACT scores, and the admissions office will not consider SAT/ACT scores even if students submit them.

How Does the Testing Policy Change Affect Students?

Like we said earlier, most schools are originally test-required. However, COVID-19 caused the cancellation of SAT and ACT in March, April, and May of this year, which greatly impacted students’ preparation and testing schedule. Although the College Board and ACT announced changes to the test dates later this year to give students more chances to take the SAT or ACT, the cancellations may make taking standardized tests difficult for some students. To cope with the impact from COVID-19 and alleviate students’ stress, some colleges announced to change their testing policy from test-required to test-optional, allowing students impacted by the pandemic to choose to not submit a test score. University of California and California State University were the first to announce in April that they are changing their testing policy to test-optional:

Below, we collected the announcements from schools that have announced to change their testing policy to test-optional. Students can use the link to see announcements on the school’s official website.

All Test-Optional SAT/ACT Schools (116 schools so far)

The list is in alphabetical order. Students can also find (via ctrl+f or cmd+f) keywords for the schools you are applying and see if they are on the list:

(Updated on 2020/05/15)

If Your School is in the List, What Should You Do?

If you find all of your schools in this list, the testing policies for them are all test-optional. If so, here are 4 things that you should do:

  1. Even though SAT/ACT is not required, the approach to the students who can do well on the test should be the same: You should do well on the SAT/ACT to help you get a boost. Even though students can choose not to submit their scores, students who do submit a good SAT/ACT score will help. Show colleges your strength and your good side, and don’t let the pandemic be an excuse for you to be lazy.
  2. Even though most schools still require SAT/ACT at this point, you should choose not to prepare for the SAT/ACT only if both of the following reasons satisfy: 1) SAT/ACT is your weakness, and you cannot get your bad score any higher, and 2) You are set only planning to apply to these schools, and you do not want to keep other options open.
  3. Even though there are some testing strategies to the SAT/ACT, the core of the test is still testing you on your English (analytical) and Math (logical) skills. Since you need analytical and logical skills in school for at least 4 more years in college after high school, and these are also necessary skills for your life after college, you might as well use the SAT/ACT testing opportunity to develop solid English (analytical) and Math (logical) skills. In Ivy-Way’s “SAT classes,” students often tell us that they learn a lot of English and math concepts that they do not learn in school, and they can see their English and math getting better. If you lose out on having solid English and math skills because you choose not to prepare and take the SAT/ACT, you risk underperforming in college, and that will be very unfortunate.
  4. Some students may want to use the time they originally planned to study for the SAT/ACT on other activities, but many high school students end up choosing the wrong activities to do, such as going to a third-world country “volunteering,” going to an on-campus college course, or do an “internship” or “research” that is not actually suitable for their levels. These activities almost always end up not helping students on their application and end up being a waste of time and money. If you are planning on doing such activities in place of SAT/ACT prep, you need to talk to a knowledgeable college counselor to understand the pros and cons of these activities and allocate your time wisely.

In short, you should still take the test!

If Your School Is Not in the List, What Should You Do?

If any of your school is not in the list, then at least one of the schools that you are applying to will require the SAT/ACT. In this case, you obviously need to take the SAT/ACT as usual, showing colleges that you have solid English and math fundamentals and that you are better than other students, so you have a better chance of getting in.


Your logic should be this: “Try your best to do well on the SAT/ACT. However, if you can’t do well, don’t worry, and you can choose not to submit your SAT/ACT score.” Your mindset should not be to choose not preparing and taking the test at all. The pandemic can be an excuse to avoid the test, but it is an excuse. If you can do well on the SAT/ACT, it will provide you a huge boost!

If you are unsure what to do, please comment below or message us, and we can help you analyze your situation and give you the best advice!

Further reading:

Also in: 简中 (Simplified Chinese) 繁中 (Traditional Chinese)

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