Can international students apply to US colleges without taking the SAT or the ACT?

Yes. There are colleges and universities in the US which are test-optional or test-flexible. This should not be taken to mean that these colleges have lower admission standards. All it means is that these colleges realize the limitations of standardized exams in evaluating the potential of applicants and prefer to focus on other determinants of success such as GPA, excellence in extra-curricular activities, etc.

Test-optional means that some students will have the flexibility to decide whether they want to submit ACT or SAT scores to the college along with their application.

Test-flexible means that these colleges would allow the students to submit scores from SAT Subject tests, AP tests or the International Baccalaureate program, instead of SAT or ACT scores.

A growing number of colleges and universities recognize that not all students excel on standardized tests. Some do not have the aptitude for the tests while others have test anxiety. Test optional colleges focus on other factors such as GPA, standing in class, exceptional talent in an area, etc., to make an informed decision. Art colleges have generally not required the applicants to take standardized exams – they focus instead on the applicant’s portfolio showcasing their talent in the discipline they wish to major in.

So, if you have a good GPA and are, either terrified of taking the standardized tests or have done poorly in them, you could choose to look at test-optional schools. Some examples of test-optional colleges are American University, Wake Forest University, Bates College, Sarah Lawrence College and Bowdoin. New York University, Middlebury College and University of Rochester are test-flexible.

Author: Mrinalini Batra.

Mrinalini is the Founder and CEO of International Educational Exchange (IEE). For over 22 years now, IEE has been helping Indian students find and pursue great overseas educational opportunities.

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