Admissions Testing Policy

A student and professor discuss an assignment.
Photo credit: Matthew Lester

In light of the unprecedented effects the current pandemic is having on high school students around the world, Oberlin College has implemented a test-optional policy for three years, starting with the 2020-2021 admissions cycle, and continuing as a pilot program through the 2022-2023 application year. SAT and ACT score submissions will still be accepted, but will no longer be required for first-year and transfer applicants. International applicants will still be required to demonstrate English proficiency, as noted below.

This policy complements Oberlin’s existing holistic application review process, which weighs a student’s four-year academic journey, including grades, strength of schedule, and teacher recommendations, more heavily than the results of standardized tests. In our holistic review, admissions decisions are never based on a single data point, such as a standardized test score.

Choosing Test Optional

Applicants who feel that their SAT or ACT score reflects their academic ability and potential are invited to submit their standardized test scores in support of their admissions applications. For those who elect to submit them, test scores can provide helpful indicators of academic achievement outside the context of their high school. Information about average test scores of previous applicants can be found on our class profile.

Applicants who are unable to take the SAT or ACT and/or those who feel that their scores do not fully reflect their academic preparedness or potential may choose to have their applications considered without those test scores. The absence of scores will not adversely affect the review of a student’s application, and applicants without scores will receive full consideration for merit scholarships.

When submitting their admissions applications, students will be required to select whether or not they would like to have their SAT or ACT scores considered.

Reporting Scores

Applicants who wish to have their scores considered may self-report scores on the admissions application. Official score reports will be required upon enrollment for those who self-report scores. Any discrepancy between self-reported test scores used in the evaluation of an application and official test score reports received later may result in the revocation of an offer of admission.

Oberlin superscores both the SAT and ACT. For the SAT, we will consider the highest Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and the highest Mathematics scores submitted, irrespective of SAT test date. Similarly, we will recalculate a new composite ACT score from subsections taken on different dates. This process gives students the highest overall score possible, allowing us to consider their best achievement.

Applicants who have previously submitted SAT or ACT scores to Oberlin may still choose to have their applications reviewed without regard to test scores.

International Students

All international applicants for whom English is neither their first language nor the primary language of secondary school instruction are required to demonstrate that they possess the level of communication skills necessary to succeed in Oberlin’s rigorous academic environment. To satisfy this requirement, we accept official score reports from TOEFL (including iBT Home Edition), IELTS, or Duolingo’s English Test (DET).

If the required language exams are unavailable at an applicant’s location, they may request a waiver by emailing However, they should be aware that applicants who provide one of these test scores will be considered more favorably.

See Also

Conservatory Admissions: Academic Requirements and Testing