College Admission Use of National Test Scores

College Admission Use of National Test Scores H.B. 20-1407

In the spring of 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SAT and ACT exams were cancelled across the country, including for Colorado’s high school juniors. To address this issue, the General Assembly passed legislation that temporarily allows Colorado public institutions of higher education to determine whether to require national assessment test scores for admission for first-time freshman students who graduate from high school in 2021. The high school graduating class of 2021, the juniors who had their SAT exams cancelled, will have the option to submit SAT and/or ACT scores with their college applications. Applicants who choose not to submit a test score for admission will not be negatively impacted as institutions will be able to make informed decisions without the exams.  


Frequently Asked Questions


What does the law do? 

It allows state four-year colleges and universities to make it optional for applicants who are part of the 2021 high school graduation class to submit SAT or ACT test scores as part of the first-time freshman admission process. 


What does that mean? 

Students who are graduating from high school in 2021 will not be required to submit their SAT or ACT test scores as part of the college admission process to state four-year colleges and universities in Colorado.  


Why is it specific to the high school graduating class of 2021? 

The high school graduating class of 2021 were juniors when the SAT exams were cancelled in spring of 2020 due to the pandemic.  


But won’t the SAT’s be rescheduled? 

While it is likely (but not confirmed) that the SAT exams will be rescheduled in the fall of 2020 for most school districts in Colorado, the exam will be provided around the same time many high school seniors apply for college admission. As a result, requiring SAT or ACT scores as part of the admission process from these students would result in an unnecessary and avoidable stress.  


Can SAT or ACT scores still be submitted? 

Yes. Absolutely. If students from the graduating class of 2021 still wish to submit their test scores to the institutions they are applying to, they certainly can do so. Colleges and universities will review their scores as part of the college admission process. 


What will institutions consider as part of the admission process without SAT or ACT scores? 

Institutions consider high school grade point average, a mix and number of academic courses successfully completed in high school, rigor of courses completed (for example, Concurrent Enrollment, AP/IB courses and exams, honors, etc.), work, volunteering and leadership experiences, and more.  Some institutions require and/or consider essays and letters of recommendations as well.  


But can a quality admission decision be made without the use of SAT or ACT scores?  

Absolutely. National and state research demonstrates that the high school grade point average is the single best predictor of a student’s likelihood to stay, succeed and graduate from college. Using SAT and ACT scores in addition to the high school grade point average and other academic factors can be helpful in predicting a student’s success, but not always.  


How do I let the colleges and universities I am applying to know whether I will be submitting my SAT or ACT scores or not? 

Colorado colleges and universities are working on this. Visit the freshman admission web page for the colleges and universities you are interested in applying to for specific instructions.


Which colleges and universities does this impact? 

All state four-year colleges and universities in Colorado will be test optional:

  • Adams State University
  • Colorado Mesa University
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • Colorado State University Fort Collins
  • Colorado State University - Global
  • Colorado State University - Pueblo
  • Fort Lewis College
  • Metropolitan State University
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Colorado Colorado Springs
  • University of Colorado Denver
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • Western Colorado University


Some private colleges and universities in Colorado are already “test optional” – these include: Colorado College; Regis University; and University of Denver.

Colorado community, junior, and area technical colleges are open admission and do not require test scores as part of the admission process.


Aren’t some scholarships dependent on SAT or ACT scores?

Yes, but colleges and universities are working to make most of these scholarships “test optional” as well.


Are SAT or ACT scores used for other purposes at colleges and universities?

Yes. Often test scores are used to determine if a student is ready to be successful in college level English, math, and other academic courses. However, other indicators can be used to place students into college level courses as well. Additionally, students can submit test scores after the admission process if they wish their scores to be considered for course placement. Check with the academic advising office at the institution you are interested in for more details.


If I am not graduating from the high school in 2021, can I still apply for college admission without SAT or ACT scores?

The law is specific to students graduating from high school in 2021. However, if you are applying for college admission as a freshman and either do not have test scores or do not wish to provide them, contact the institution you wish to apply to for assistance.


If I am a transfer student, how does this impact me?

Applicants with 24 or more college level courses successfully completed after high school graduation have a different admission process and are not required to submit SAT or ACT test scores as part of the admission process. Learn more about transfer admission.


Where can I learn more about the college admission process in Colorado?