The ACT and SAT

Admissions exams (also known as standardised tests) are a way for universities to compare applicants who might come from different backgrounds and educational systems across the USA and the world.

Results are used to support part of a university’s admissions and merit-based scholarship decisions. They can assess, among other things:

  • Verbal reasoning and language analysis
  • Critical reading
  • Writing
  • Mathematics and data analysis

Are they required?

Universities can set their own admission requirements. Most will require the submission of admissions exam/standardised test scores.

However, some universities are test optional. This means they will not hold it against applicants who do not submit scores. In lieu of a test score, a test optional institution might require you to submit a graded piece of coursework or controlled assessment.

A full list of test optional institutions can be found on

View the pages in this section to learn more about the exams, testing dates and useful tips.