2020 Test Optional Colleges: Changes in Light of COVID-19

Padya Paramita

2020 Test Optional Colleges: Changes in Light of COVID-19

On top of the social distancing protocols interrupting the administration of the March and May exam sessions earlier, we’ve recently learned that the College Board has canceled the June SAT. As the pandemic continues, many colleges have decided to step up and remove standardized test scores from their requirements for at least the upcoming admissions cycle. We have a comprehensive list of the 2020 test optional colleges for you.

If you have an SAT score already, great! If you haven’t taken the exam yet, it’s important to think about the bigger picture and keep a few of the 2020 test optional colleges on your list in case the situation prevents you from taking the SAT. Many of the new additions include top colleges such as Cornell, Williams, Amherst, and UC Berkeley. To help you review the options, I have included the full list of schools that have made the decision to go test optional next year, and added more updates from the College Board to consider as you plan your road to the next four years.

List of 2020 Test Optional Colleges

As you look through the list of 2020 test optional colleges, you’ll notice that some schools have implemented test optional routes for more than just the upcoming cycle to be fair to all students in high school that could be impacted by this, regardless of which grade they are in right now. The following table includes institutions that have made changes to their standardized testing policies as a result of the disruptions. We will update the list as more colleges make announcements of changes.

Table Key

  • School: Name of the college which has gone test optional
  • Duration: How long the change will be applicable, starting the 2020-21 cycle
  • Additional Notes: Further details on schools that have alternate requirements in place of test score submission
School Duration Additional Notes
Amherst College 1 year
Babson College 1 year
Barnard College 1 year
Baylor University 1 year
Boston University 1 year
Brandeis University Test flexible starting the 2020-21 application cycle Students have 3 options: Option 1: Submit SAT or ACT. The writing portion of the SAT is not required. Brandeis will superscore each exam if more than one set of results is submitted. Option 2: Submit three exams from the approved list, which includes APs, IBs and SAT subject tests. One exam must be from a Science or Math discipline, one exam must be from an English or social science discipline, and the third exam may be from a discipline of your choice. Option 3: Submit a graded analytical paper through the Common Application.
California State University 1 year
Case Western University 1 year
Chapman University 1 year
Claremont McKenna College 1 year
Clarkson University 1 year
Colgate University 1 year
Cornell University 1 year The university states that standardized test scores could still be a “meaningful differentiator” for students who live near or attend a high school that will offer more testing this year or if the candidate has not experienced a significant loss in income for one or more household providers.
Cooper Union 2 years
Davidson College 3 years
Elon University 3 years
Fordham University 2 years
Hamilton College 1 year
Haverford College 3 years
Indiana University — Bloomington Completely test optional starting the 2020-21 application cycle
Middlebury College 3 years
Northeastern University 1 year
Oberlin College 3 years
Olin College of Engineering 1 year
Oregon State University 1 year
Pomona College 1 year
Rhodes College 3 years
Rochester Institute of Technology Test optional starting Fall 2021 Fall 2021 and beyond: Test optional for all undergraduate programs. Applicants may choose whether to report test scores. Fall 2020 Test Optional Programs: Test optional for applicants to all programs in the College of Liberal Arts and BFA programs (except medical illustration) in the College of Art and Design. Students applying to imaging science, motion picture science and photographic sciences within the College of Art & Design must still provide test scores.
Santa Clara University 2 years
Texas Christian University 1 year
Tufts University 3 years
Tulane University 1 year
University of California (all schools) 1 year
University of Connecticut 3 years
University of North Carolina (all schools) 1 year Each UNC system university can choose to admit students with a minimum 2.5 weighted high school GPA, and a combined SAT score of 1010 or an ACT of 19. Admissions offices can admit an applicant based on GPA alone, but students must still submit a standardized test score with an application unless they qualify for an exemption.
University of Oregon 1 year
University of Richmond 1 year
University of San Diego Completely test optional starting the 2020-21 application cycle
University of Southern California 1 year
University of Washington 1 year
Vassar College 1 year
Washington and Lee University 1 year
Williams College 1 year

Most colleges have only implemented the change in policy for one year, although a handful of schools are running three-year pilot programs. It should be interesting to note how the addition of this new protocol impacts incoming classes — how many students submit their scores, what the median numbers are, and whether colleges choose to expand this policy beyond just this upcoming cycle.

Other Changes in Testing by the College Board 

Alongside there being new additions to the list of 2020 test optional colleges weekly, the College Board has also taken steps to ensure that students have more opportunities to sit for the SAT. The organization has announced that starting August, there will be an SAT administration during every remaining month of the calendar year. This includes the introduction of a new September date alongside the previously scheduled tests on August 29, October 3, November 7, and December 5. If you are applying to college in the 2020-21 cycle and you were originally registered for March, May, or June, this new September date provides greater flexibility for you to prepare and plan as you decide when to take the SAT.

The College Board is also exploring the option of a digital at-home SAT exam in the drastic case that schools still remain closed in the fall. The organization has also mentioned that it will prepare to work with states as well as school districts to ensure that students have easier access to technology and Wi-Fi hotspots so that they are able to take the test without any hassle. This would be a huge change for the SAT, and is unlikely to occur considering how much logistical support it would require.

Understandably, the list of 2020 test optional colleges is ever expanding. If you’re a student who hasn’t had the chance to take the exam — or aren’t sure if you’ll be able to do so in the fall — take advantage of the changes and consider applying to these institutions and other test optional colleges. Expect more universities to announce adjustments in their testing policies as states make changes regarding lockdown timelines in the upcoming months, but at the same time, continue leaving time to practice for the SAT, as most top schools haven’t made any changes so far. Good luck!

Schedule a free consultation

to find out how we can help you get accepted.