Directory of Schools Going Test Optional for 2020-2021

The onset of the coronavirus emergency has upended the college admissions process for current high school juniors and seniors. Students in 11th grade aren’t able to participate in sports, go to in-person classes or take standardized tests, and colleges are aware of these changing circumstances. To mitigate that last issue, many institutions are going test optional for the 2020-2021 admissions period.

The following schools represent a sampling of those that will not require SAT or ACT test scores this fall:

  • Amherst College
  • Boston University
  • Case West Reserve
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell
  • Dartmouth
  • Davidson
  • Haverford
  • Northeastern
  • Oregon State
  • Pomona
  • Rhodes
  • Scripps
  • Tufts
  • University of California System
  • University of Oregon
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Southern California
  • University of Toledo
  • University of Virginia
  • Vassar
  • Virginia Tech
  • Williams College

Let us know in the comments below if you hear of other schools.

Among the top LACs, only a handful remains in the “show me your ACT/SAT” camp.
Based on the FairTest list updated on 4/23, just 9(!!!) out of the top 46 USNWR-ranked liberal arts colleges still require standardized tests for the next admission cycle.
Admittedly, the National Universities category is quite a bit behind, with only 17 out of the top 50 going test-optional.

Virginia Tech

Isn’t Virginia Tech going test blind, not test optional? I thought I read that recently.

^^ Thank you for that.

I made a website called 2021admissions. You can link the page to this directory if you want ( )
It is being updated every single day

@“Armeen.A” yes - I’ve shared your website and sent you an update yesterday. Thanks - your link is very helpful.

Claremont McKenna College


I don’t know how many of these were already test-optional, as a warning. I’ve been making my own list and didn’t exclude schools that were already test-optional before. I used Naviance, my GPA, and my PSAT score to order them from less to more accessible for a student from my school with similar stats. So, I know the ordering seems strange. It includes some schools not listed on Fair Test yet. And there are schools like Lewis & Clark that Fair Test claims require an academic portfolio if you do not submit test scores. But that’s not true for this upcoming application cycle, as the school’s website says it has waived that requirement temporarily. I visited each of these school websites. I am not getting this information from a list somewhere.

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
University of Chicago
Amherst College
Cornell University
Pomona College
Washington & Lee University
Williams College
Claremont McKenna College
Swarthmore College
Tufts University
Carleton College
Northeastern University
Colby College
Vassar College
Pitzer College
Haverford College
Middlebury College
New York University
Hamilton College
Barnard College
University of Southern California
Tulane University
Bowdoin College
Colorado College
Davidson College
Scripps College
Wellesley College
Case Western Reserve University
Macalester College
Bates College
University of California Los Angeles
Boston University
Wesleyan University
Wake Forest University
College of the Holy Cross
University of California Berkeley
Cooper Union
Connecticut College
Trinity College
Smith College
Babson College
University of Richmond
Santa Clara University
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Colgate University
Bryn Mawr College
California Polytechnic State University-San Lois Obispo
University of California San Diego
College of William & Mary
University of California Santa Barbara
Franklin & Marshall College
Temple University
Brandeis University
George Washington University
Skidmore College
Gettysburg College
Lafayette College
University of San Diego
University of California Irvine
American University
Bentley University
Denison University
Occidental College
Trinity University
Bucknell University
Providence College
Mount Holyoke College
Emerson College
Baylor University
Oberlin College
College of William & Mary
Loyola Marymount University
University of California Davis
Fordham University
Drury University
Rhode Island School of Design
San Diego State University
Sarah Lawrence College
Saint Louis University
University of Washington Seattle
The College of New Jersey
University of Tulsa
Lewis & Clark College
Virginia Tech
Bard College at Simon’s Rock
Chapman University
Bennington College
Fairfield University
Butler University
Texas Christian University
St. Olaf College
Elon University
University of California Riverside
Bard College
Clark University
University of Denver
University of Dallas
Sewanee: The University of the South
Duquesne University
Rochester Institute of Technology

I have barely begun a list of test-optional schools that could be safeties. I will add to this in time. Again, this is based on my own GPA and school, so these may not be safeties for others. So far I have

Michigan State University
Whitman College
Lawrence University
Indiana University Bloomington
James Madison University

Also, JMU is always test-optional.

Do you know if UMD – College Park plans to go test optional?

Fairtest has updated the list and there are 1200+ colleges that are test optional for 2021 cycle.

Most on the list accept applications either with test-scores or w/o. Only few like VT is the test blind, meaning no penalty to those application w/o test scores. Will the admission treat them differently? How will the admission evaluate two kinds of applications?

@estone7 I always assumed that ‘test blind’ meant they didn’t look at test scores at all, and that ‘test optional’ means you can decide what will look better for you (and won’t be penalized for not submitting test scores). The VT announcement was rather vague, but I interpreted it to be test optional rather than test blind. Maybe I’m misunderstanding how colleges are using the terms.

Here is the Fairtest site:

While most are "test-optional, note that the list includes schools that don’t emphasize test scores. Also, some require test sc ores for merit aid.

I tried to post a link to an article that explains the terms, but it’s not letting me post. Basically it said ‘test blind’ means they don’t consider test scores. Test optional means they will consider test scores, but you don’t have to send them, and I think the implication is that test scores are much less important than other aspects of the application. This matches what I thought the terms meant, but maybe that’s not universal. Thought I’d share.

@CK2023 UMCP has not announced any plans to waive SAT and ACT standardized tests for 2021 applicants. UMBC’s website at least addresses the issue on its COVID-19 FAQ page. It says “UMBC will still require standardized testing for first-year students applying for admission. Students should plan to test whenever tests are available.” Salisbury is the only test-optional, selective school I found for the University System of Maryland.

I had wanted to hold off until I had a lot more than 20 selective schools to add, but both Dartmouth and Columbia went test-optional after the College Board announced yesterday that it was going to pause its efforts on making an at-home version of the SAT (since over 20,000 kids had issues with the at-home AP tests).

Once again, I do not know how many of these were test-optional before, as I did not separate historically test-optional from newly test-optional. They’re ranked by using my school’s Naviance. You should check out your own school’s data points.

Dartmouth University
Columbia University
Villanova University
University of Rochester
University of Miami
William & Mary
Rhodes College
University of Dayton
Southern Methodist University
Dickinson College
University of Connecticut
Salisbury University
Florida Southern College
Syracuse University
St. Lawrence University
Gonzaga University
Earlham College
College of the Atlantic
Hollins University
Rutgers University- New Brunswick
Wofford College
Southwestern University

I told you guys I was going to work on a list of schools that could be safer. Here it is:

University of California Santa Cruz
California State University Long Beach
College of Wooster
Christopher Newport University
Drexel University
California State University Fullerton
Webster University
Hofstra University
University of Portland
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Brigham Young University Idaho
Marist College
Clarkson University
Ithaca College
University of Hawaii Manoa
Lake Forest College
Creighton University
Kalamazoo College
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Chatham University
Bradley University
Catawba College
William Jewell College
University of Massachusetts Lowell
Drake University
Lawrence University
University of Cincinnati
Wabash College

I managed to hold off posting. UPenn, UVA, and Penn State all went test-optional and I showed great restraint, trying to wait until I had a bunch of schools to share with you. But then Caltech went freaking test-blind, and I had to get a list together for you all.

Here are the ones that have been more selective, according to my school’s scattergram on Naviance:

University of Pennsylvania
University of Virginia
Union College (NY)
University of Delaware
Hampshire College
Penn State University Park

And here are the ones that have been safer choices for the students at my school:

Austin College
Hampton University
DePauw University
Daemen College
Texas A&M Galveston
Gustavus Adolphus College
SUNY Cortland
University of San Francisco
The New School