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Standardized Testing Policy

What is Northwestern's current standardized testing policy for undergraduate admission?

2024–25 Application Cycle

Northwestern will remain test-optional for the 2024–25 admissions cycle. We will not require ACT or SAT scores from first-year or transfer candidates applying for fall 2025 entry.

Applicants may submit an SAT or ACT score if they wish, but these scores are not required. Whether or not a student chooses to submit an SAT or ACT score, that student may submit additional, optional forms of testing (e.g. Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate scores) for consideration in the review process.

How will Northwestern review applications that do not include test scores?

With or without test scores, we evaluate applicants’ academic and intellectual fit for Northwestern through holistic review of grades, course rigor, recommendations, academic honors or awards, writing supplements, and other information specific to your own experiences. By “holistic” we mean we consider each component of your application in the context of your high school, household, and community settings—as such, our process is built to account for the diversity of experiences, circumstances and backgrounds reflected across our applicant pool. Applying without an SAT or ACT score will not impact our review process or your chances of admission.

Even though test scores are not required, is it advisable for applicants to send them if they are able to sit for a test?

Even if a student is able to take an SAT or ACT, they may prefer we don’t consider it as part of our application review. Our process will respect that preference; there is no need for applicants to report scores.

That said, if you have test scores you feel duly reflect your academic potential, we welcome them.

For applicants who choose to report scores, will they still play a role in Northwestern’s application review?

Yes, if an applicant chooses to report scores, we will continue to weigh them alongside all of their other application materials as part of our holistic review.

For some background on how we use scores, and why we have required them in the past: While high school grades are a strong predictor for academic success in college, the combination of grades and standardized test scores has been shown to strengthen that prediction. (Scores alone do not predict academic success with the same reliability as grades.) So while we feel confident that applications can stand strong without test scores, we will still find value in scores if you choose to send them.

For applicants who choose to send scores, will Northwestern offer flexibility for scores received after application deadlines?

2023–24 Application Cycle*

For Early Decision (ED) applicants, you may submit scores from October or November test dates after our November 1, 2023 ED deadline. Please self-report your scores on your applicant portal as soon as they become available, and no later than December 4, 2023, to ensure we can review them prior to our mid-December decision release.

Likewise for Regular Decision (RD) applicants, if scores from December tests arrive after our January 3, 2024 deadline, you may still self-report them via your applicant portal no later than February 19, 2024. 

Please note, admitted students who choose to enroll, and who included test scores as part of their application, will be required to submit official SAT or ACT scores that correspond to the highest self-reported test scores prior to matriculation.

*2024–25 application cycle updates will be available in Fall 2024

Will Northwestern require or recommend additional materials for students who apply without test scores? For example, will Northwestern treat Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) scores any differently in light of this modified testing policy?

No, we will not require or recommend any additional materials for students who apply without an SAT or ACT score. As in the past, we will treat subject-based external test results (i.e. APs, supplemental IBs, etc.) as useful but optional information, knowing these exams and curricula are unavailable to many students around the world. For students whose secondary school completion is contingent on external exam scores, we will continue to require them.

If I choose not to have an SAT or ACT score considered in my application review, can I still submit other forms of testing (e.g. SAT Subject Test, Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate scores) as part of my application?

Yes. Students who do not wish to have SAT or ACT scores considered as part of their application review can still submit other optional forms of testing, and these scores may be self-reported on the application or through the Applicant Status Portal. 

Please note that the application question “Do you want us to consider SAT or ACT scores in our review of your application?” refers only to SAT and/or ACT scores. Students who wish to apply without SAT or ACT scores but do plan to self-report other forms of testing considered should respond “No” to this question.

I chose not to have scores considered when I initially submitted my application, but wish to include scores after the application deadline. May I change my status and report those scores?

2023–24 Application Cycle*

Yes. Applicants may change their status in the applicant portal to include scores as part of our application review. Please change status and self-report your scores as soon as they are available, and no later than December 4, 2023 for Early Decision and February 19, 2024 for Regular Decision.

*2024–25 application cycle updates will be available in Fall 2024

Does Northwestern accept self-reported scores?

Yes, we will continue to accept self-reported scores from all applicants (with the exception of English proficiency scores). In order to enroll, admitted students who self-reported SAT or ACT scores will need to send official scores that corroborate their highest self-reported scores.

Does Northwestern allow for score choice?

Yes, Northwestern allows for score choice. That is to say, applicants who choose to submit certain scores are not obligated to report all scores from all test dates.

If an applicant submits more than one SAT or ACT score, will Northwestern continue to superscore?

Yes, for applicants who submit scores from multiple test dates, we will continue to superscore both the SAT and ACT. (Applicants should not calculate their own ACT superscore; our system will calculate it for them.)

Will Northwestern still require English proficiency scores from certain applicants?

Yes. International applicants whose first language is not English, and whose high school courses were conducted in a language other than English, will still need to submit one of three English proficiency exams: the TOEFL iBT, IELTS (both of which are offering online, at-home options in light of the pandemic), or the online Duolingo English Test, a globally accessible at-home option.

Will certain Northwestern programs continue to require test scores?

2023–24 Application Cycle*

Applicants should refer to program websites for up-to-date application requirements for the Integrated Science Program and Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences Program. Both of these selective majors have separate application and admission processes beyond general admission. These programs are test-optional for the 2023–24 application cycle.

*2024–25 application cycle updates will be available in Fall 2024

Will this modified testing policy extend to transfer applicants?

2024–25 Application Cycle

Yes. Submission of SAT/ACT scores will be optional for transfer candidates applying for Fall 2025 entry . If you have questions or concerns, please contact

Will Northwestern receive my test scores automatically?

If a student chooses to submit results from an SAT or ACT, scores should be sent directly from the appropriate agency or via self-reporting.

Self-reporting SAT and/or ACT scores
  • Students may self-report all SAT and ACT scores, but please do not calculate your own ACT superscore—report your highest ACT section scores and your highest composite score from a single test date, and our system will calculate the ACT superscore. Admitted students who choose to enroll will be required to submit official SAT or ACT test scores that confirm highest self-reported section/composite scores prior to matriculation.
Testing codes
  • The Northwestern SAT Reasoning Test code 1565.
  • The Northwestern ACT code is 1106.