Navigating Testing Requirements for the 2021 Admissions Cycle

As of June 17th, 2020

Increase in Test-Optional / Test-Blind Admissions

Before 2020, a handful of colleges had started to adopt SAT® and ACT®-optional admissions policies. Recently, in response to the global pandemic, there has been a noticeable uptick in universities choosing to abandon these standardized tests as a mandatory part of their admissions process.

Please note, while there are many different iterations of these policies, you should always be sure to consult the EXACT policies of the individual colleges you are applying to. In general, though – colleges choosing to desert SAT® and ACT® scores are taking one of these three approaches:

Test-Optional, Test-Flexible, or Test-Blind Admissions.

Here are the differences:

Test-Optional Admissions

Test-optional admissions means that you are no longer required to submit an ACT® or SAT® score, but you can if you want to. If you DO want to send your test scores in, they will be taken into consideration along with the rest of your application. If you choose NOT to send in scores, your application will be taken into equal consideration as that of a student who did submit scores. Applicants who don’t submit scores will be judged first on their high school GPA or academic records, and then their personal statement essays, extra-curricular activities and letters of recommendation.

How do I decide whether to submit my score?

If you are a student with a 4.0 GPA, whose test scores do not reflect your academic achievements, then it is probably within your best interest to not submit your scores. If you are a high scorer on the SAT® or ACT®, it certainly won’t hurt to include that in your application!

Test-Flexible Admissions

Some schools are waiving their SAT®/ACT® requirement in lieu of alternative test scores. This means you CAN submit an SAT® or ACT® score, but if you don’t want to do that, you might have the option to submit an AP® Exam score (for example) instead. Other possible exam scores you could submit are:

SAT Subject Tests

International Baccalaureate


For test-flexible schools, you really need to make sure you get ALL the information about what is and isn’t an acceptable test alternative, as this will no doubt vary from school-to-school.

Test-Blind Admissions

Test-blind colleges are eschewing SAT® and ACT® scores altogether. This means that you either won’t be given the chance to submit test scores, or they just won’t be taken into consideration at all even if you do submit them.

College Admissions Post-2021

For colleges nationwide, the shift away from standardized tests is unprecedented. We are likely seeing just the start of greater changes to the U.S. college admissions process as we’ve previously known it.  Some of the colleges that are suspending SAT® or ACT® requirements are already developing their own admissions tests, formulated to align better with their specific curricula. All University of California schools, for example, are currently in the process of doing exactly that – with a plan to have their own admissions test by 2025.

The UC system does not stand alone by any means. See below for a list of some of the schools that are deemphasizing the SAT® and ACT® for the high school class of 2021.

New schools are announcing their testing policies daily. Help us keep this list up to date! If you see a school that is missing, please fill out the form below.

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