Do You Need SAT Scores to Transfer Colleges

Determining all the different requirements for transferring colleges can be a huge hassle. One of the most common questions students have is

whether they need to submit SAT scores to apply as transfer students


There’s no single answer to this question, but this guide will explain some common policies about SAT scores for transfer applicants. It’ll also go over how to determine whether you need to submit SAT scores and how much attention schools pay to these scores when they also have your grades from another college.

Do You Need to Submit SAT Scores as a Transfer Applicant?

As I touched on above, the answer to this question really

depends on the school you’re applying to

. Some schools don’t require SAT scores for any transfer students, some only want standardized test results from students who haven’t completed a minimum number of credits, and some ask for test scores from all applicants.

In general,

very selective schools

and small liberal arts colleges are more likely to require test scores, while bigger state universities are more likely to waive the requirement


Also, if you’ve been out of high school for more than five years or if taking the SAT represents an undue financial burden, most schools will waive any SAT requirements.

The following chart details the transfer applicant test score requirements for a range of schools to give you a sense of the types of policies you might encounter. Schools are listed alphabetically and all credits are in semesters.


Requires SAT?

Exceptions / Notes

CU Boulder
Yes Exempt if you’ve completed at least 24 college credit hours

Yes May submit

testing waiver

if taking the SAT/ACT will pose a hardship for you

Yes Exempt if you graduated from high school at least five years before you intend to matriculate

Yes None

No Test-optional for all students

University of California

University of Illinois
Yes Exempt if you’ve completed 30 college semester hours (but test scores are still recommended for under 59 graded credit hours)

University of Washington

Yes Exempt if you’ve completed at least 30 semester units of college coursework

UT Austin

Obviously, this chart is far from comprehensive. Since, as you can see, testing policies vary quite a bit, you’ll need to

find out whether the schools you’re applying to require transfer applicants to submit SAT scores


Start by checking the section of the school’s website for transfer applicants. Some schools have a specific page about standardized test scores. If you can’t find anything on these pages, look at the

application checklist or FAQ pages


If you’re really struggling to find any information on test scores for transfer applicants,

search on Google for “[School Name] transfer SAT scores.”

You might have to try a couple of the links, but usually this approach will eventually get you to the page you need.

If you’re transferring from a community college, keep in mind that

your current school might have a guaranteed admission agreement with the state university

. These programs often


require test scores from transfer applicants (but sometimes do).

Finally, you can always call or email the admissions office at the school if you have questions. After all, they’re there to help!

How Important Are SAT Scores for Transfer Students?

Most colleges weight SAT scores less heavily for transfer applicants

than they do for freshmen since transfer students already have proof of their ability to succeed in college:

their transcript


“If a student is transferring after one semester in college or a year, schools usually want the SAT and high school GPA, but

the further away from high school, the less schools rely on them

,” college counselor

Deborah Shames told

US News

(bold emphasis mine).

There are definitely some exceptions, however.

Very selective schools tend to care more about test scores than less selective colleges do.

You’re also likely to be judged more on your SAT scores if your grades aren’t that impressive.

If you’re

concerned about your SAT scores


see whether the school you’re interested in offers a transfer student profile

. This will list

the middle 50% range of ACT and SAT scores

for transfer students. (As an example, check out



If your score is toward the high end of that range (or above), you’re set. If you’re in the lower end (or below), you might want to consider putting in some

focused prep time


retaking the SAT


What’s Next?

If you have

more questions about transferring colleges

, read

our complete guide to the transfer process


Thinking about transferring but not sure what school you want to go to?

Use these

college search sites

to find

the school that’s right for you


Or maybe you need help with

another part of your college application

, such as

writing about your extracurriculars


asking for recommendation letters

from teachers.

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