Spark Admissions Blog

Applications, Essays, Where to Apply, Strategy, and More

Alternatives To Taking The SAT

March 04, 2013
Written by Rachel B. Rubin

For example, at DePaul University, applicants are allowed to write short responses to four essay questions in lieu of submitting test scores. So, for those of you who are afraid your SAT scores are not as high as you’d like, this might be a viable alternative for you.

You might wonder how your answers to the essay questions will be evaluated. According to DePaul, the admission committee looks for “clear, concise and focused writing that represents you in an authentic manner. We want your essays to provide us with information we would not otherwise garner from your application. The essays provide you with the opportunity to share some insight into your educational motivation, short and long term goals, leadership experience and community involvement.”1

However, keep in mind that there are three groups of students who cannot apply to be test optional: 

  • Prospective student athletes are mandated by the NCAA to submit standardized test scores for athletic eligibility.
  • International students are required to submit standardized test scores to prove English proficiency and should consult International Admission for more information.
  • Homeschooled students also will be required to submit a standardized test score.

Lots of schools offer alternatives to taking the SAT. You can google them by the following terms:

The term for colleges offering various options in place of the SAT is “test-optional alternatives.” Similarly, the term for colleges that no longer require the SAT is “test-optional.” You can also see my blog “Test-optional colleges” for a full list of colleges who no longer require the SAT or ACT for all college applicants.

[1] Source: DePaul University Office of Admission and Financial Aid. Retrieved from: