Maybe standardized tests aren’t your strong point. That doesn’t mean you’re not a good student, and a great candidate for your colleges of choice!
Struggling on standardized testing doesn’t necessarily say anything about your overall academic abilities or intelligence. But how do you get colleges to notice your other achievements, if they’re too busy focusing on entrance exam scores like the SAT, ACT or GRE?
Luckily, more and more schools are becoming no entry exam colleges. That means great students like you still have a shot at earning the college education you really want.
The point is that if you’re looking for options to apply to college or graduate school, entry exams don’t have to be part of the picture if you don’t want them to be.
Colleges with No Entrance Exams at All
Some colleges have dropped entrance exams from their admissions processes altogether. One potential motivation for doing this is that admissions departments take a look at a student’s whole package. That includes things like the classes you’ve taken, how competitive your curriculum was, your extracurricular activities and life experience, how you present yourself in your essay, and your GPA.
Some other no entrance exam colleges might be trying to attract students with more diverse skills and strengths. That could include both those who rocked the SATs, and those who avoided it altogether.
Overall, undergraduate no entry exam colleges might handle the no-exam admissions process a little differently, depending on the type of school they are, the types of students they’re hoping to attract, and their values as an institution.
Here are some of the things that no-exam-required schools look for when considering students.
5 Other Measures of Success in No-Exam Admissions
Professional Experience: Some schools, especially online colleges, might have designed their programs specifically to accommodate the needs of busy professionals, who want to earn a degree to get an edge. In that case, those schools might prefer students with a solid (not to mention relevant) resume. This could help to prove to no-exam school administrators that you have the drive, hands-on experience, and know-how to succeed in and out of the classroom.
Extra-Curricular Activities: Other no-exam schools might express a preference for well-rounded students, with a diverse range of experience in and out of the classroom. Or maybe they’re searching for go-getters with leadership experience. Either way, at no-entry-exam schools, your experience in extra-curricular activities could make a difference.
Competitive GPA: Of course, one of the most important aspects of college life is the academics. For the most part, schools want strong students. If you have a killer GPA but just don’t test that well, no entry exam colleges could be the perfect way to showcase your achievements.
Educational Experience: No entry exam colleges recognize that a GPA isn’t the only thing that makes a strong student resume. A variety of factors contribute to demonstrating academic excellence. For example, some students graduated from a more rigorous school than most, where high standards make it a harder climb to the top of the class. Then there’s your actual course sequence. Did you diversify your curriculum to challenge yourself in as many areas as possible? Or did you focus your efforts on courses directly relevant to your program? Whichever your path was, the types of courses you took, what you learned, and how you did are all factors a no-entry-exam admissions team might consider when determining your eligibility.
Writing Skills: While not all exam-free schools include an essay requirement, a lot of schools do. That's not necessarily a disadvantage! While part of the point of an essay is to evaluate a student’s ability to follow directions and communicate effectively, essays can do more for your application packet than that. It’s a chance for you to demonstrate not only that you’re an effective writer, but also that you have life experience that may set you apart. Whether you do it by telling a story about an important personal experience that makes you unique, or showcasing a school or work accomplishment, you can use your application essay to show your school who you are. This may say a lot more than a handful of numbers from a test score.
No-GRE Grad Schools
Not all graduate programs require GREs or similar entrance exams.
Here are 3 scenarios where GRE scores are not necessary.
- MFA Programs: The MFA, or Master of Fine Arts, is often associated with more creative areas of study. This could include things like creative writing, acting, painting, etc. As such, standardized test scores are not as important to programs as a strong portfolio. Being able to show your MFA program examples of your best creative work is one of the most important aspects of this kind of grad school application. Remember, as always, that admissions requirements vary by program, so don’t hesitate to ask for more information about your potential school’s priorities so you can focus on what they’re actually looking for.
- Business & Executive Programs: While it could vary, many business-related graduate programs are designed for experienced professionals. As such, they tend to focus more on related professional experience and accomplishments, as opposed to entrance exam scores. It's likely that a program you’re considering will ask for a resume instead of test scores. Or you might need to prove that you have a certain type of experience, or have spent a certain amount of time performing certain job-related tasks.
- Programs for Grads or Pros: Some graduate school programs are GRE-free for applicants who have already earned another graduate degree. Other programs don't require GRE scores if you demonstrate significant previous professional experience, or have achieved a certain level of academic excellence or achievement (for example, passing a GPA threshold).
The examples listed above are not the only options. Any school might offer a program as GRE-free, on an individual basis. For more information about no-GRE entry requirements and how that impacts admissions prerequisites (in terms of what other things you will need to submit when you apply to a program), reach out to the schools you’re interested in to get the full details.
Examples of No Entry Exam Colleges
Are no required entrance exam colleges the option for you?
Below, we’ve listed a few example no entry exam required colleges from among our sponsored listings to help you get started with your search.
California Southern University
CalSouthern is an online university offering flexible programs from associates all the way to doctorate. They’ve been committed to providing options that work for working adults since their inception in 1978. They’re regionally accredited, and offer programs in psychology, business, legal studies, criminal justice, nursing, and education.
California Southern’s admissions process does not include entrance exams at the undergraduate or graduate level. Instead, their application process focuses on an online application, your academic transcripts, and—if you’re applying to a graduate program—your personal statement.
In addition to the above, there may be other requirements not described here, exceptions, or changes to the process. To learn more about what you’d need to do to apply to California Southern University, get in touch with an admissions counselor.
Brandeis University does not require applicants to submit their test scores. Since they are entry-exam-free, they have several other ways that students can flaunt their academic strengths.
Some students might choose to instead submit their AP subject tests, or SAT subject tests.
But you stilll want to avoid sending test scores altogether? That’s okay, too! Brandeis allows students to submit an academic portfolio instead, no entry exam required. This could include a packet of information about you such as graded writing assignments and teacher recommendations.
If you’re thinking about applying to Brandeis University, make sure you reach out to them to confirm the application requirements as they apply to you. There may be some exceptions to the options described above, depending on your situations and the program, and some details may be subject to change.
Bay Path University
Bay Path has been committed to educating students since it opened in Massachusetts in 1897. Their goal is to embody an entrepreneurial spirit, helping students to develop not only their academic knowledge, but also the practical skills and leadership they need to apply that knowledge. Bay Path offers both campus and online education. Their undergraduate programs admit women, and their graduate programs are co-educational.
In the spirit of helping students gain access to academic success, Bay Path University has no entrance exam requirement for applicants who have already earned at least 12 credits at the college level. Students just need to submit a letter of recommendation from a teacher or guidance counselor, as well as a personal essay. How easy is that?
Application requirements are subject to change. To find out more about Bay Path’s current admissions requirements, reach out to the school.
American University is dedicated to helping its students make an impact. As such, they aim to provide a balance of classroom learning and real-world experience. That means that in addition to studying under AU’s recognized faculty, you could pursue the kind of experience that might help you pump up your resume . . . before you even graduate.
An added bonus? American University is entry exam free for undergraduates.
At the graduate level, the majority of programs are GRE-free.
For more information on this or other admissions requirements, reach out to American University.
Search for No Entry Exam Colleges
Want to apply to colleges that have no entry exam requirements? You’ll probably need to talk to admissions at the schools you’re considering to find out whether they fit the bill since that tends to vary by school, program, and even by student qualifications.
How to Make a Decision
(1) First, think carefully about what you’re looking for. What type of degree do you want, and what do you want to study?
(2) Then use the menu to navigate to that degree page and read more about them.
(3) When you find programs that sound suitable, make sure you reach out to them and ask about their admissions requirements, like no entrance exams!