Test-Optional at North Central College

Test-Optional FAQ's


Based on research and the student-centered approach to education we take at North Central, a test-optional alternative for freshman admission has been adopted. Students applying for freshman admission can choose whether or not to submit ACT, SAT or CLT scores as part of their application. For more information, check out our most Frequently Asked Questions below.

Why does North Central College make submitting standardized test scores optional?
North Central College engages in a holistic review of applicants and the test-optional alternative allows us to consider your strengths that may be demonstrated in areas other than your ACT, SAT or CLT score. Both our internal and external research show that your high school record, in particular your grades in challenging core subjects, is the most important academic component in the review for admission. By allowing you to determine how to best showcase your academic performance, North Central College is emphasizing that four years of perseverance, motivation and effort during high school bear a direct relationship to successful college-level work.


How do I know if I should apply test optional?
If you are satisfied with your test scores and believe they are indicative of your academic achievement, then we are happy to consider them as part of your application. If you have a strong academic record demonstrated by above average grades in challenging courses, but do not feel your test results are a good reflection of your academic performance, you can choose not to submit them.

We strongly recommend that you carefully consider your decision to apply with or without test scores. You will be asked to indicate whether or not you are applying test optional on whichever application you complete (Common App, Coalition App or North Central College App). Once you have submitted your application, you will be unable to change to the other option.

You must choose to apply either as test optional or with your test scores. Students applying to North Central College cannot submit more than one application. If a student submits more than one application, our system will only recognize the first application received, and the admission decision will be based on that application alone.


What if my scores are sent from a testing agency or included on my transcripts? 
If your scores are sent to us from the testing agency or are included on your high school transcript, you can still apply test optional as long as you indicate that option on your application. If you apply test optional, your test scores will not be taken into consideration as part of the application review or scholarship process.


How will North Central College Admission evaluate students who do not submit test scores?
Because North Central College has always considered applicants from a holistic point of view, the review process for students who submit ACT, SAT or CLT scores and students who do not submit scores will be very similar. When considering an applicant for admission, we will closely evaluate your overall academic record, including grades earned in academic coursework, performance in honors, International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement courses, and grades trends throughout your high school career. In addition, other factors will include letters of recommendation, co-curricular activities, community involvement, writing ability and other achievements.

Generally, students who are most competitive in North Central College’s admission process have taken four years in each of the core areas (English, math, natural science and social science/history). While not required, it is highly recommended that you take a foreign language or American Sign Language. If your high school offers advanced placement (AP) or honors courses or the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, your involvement in this type of rigorous high school curriculum will reflect positively on your application. We will carefully review the strength of your high school classes and your performance in them.

Although not required in order to review your application, we encourage test-optional applicants to submit the optional personal essay through the Common App or submit a personal statement if choosing another application. Applicants applying test optional will be reviewed separately from applicants applying with CLT, SAT or ACT scores. Because we conduct a thorough review of your high school curriculum and grades (paying particular attention to any honors and advanced level courses you have taken) your application may take additional time to review.


How do I know if my academic record is strong enough to apply test optional?
Because we evaluate each application holistically and individually, there is no formula we can provide to help you decide. However, a profile of the students currently enrolled at North Central College might give you some guidance. The average SAT score of admitted students for Fall 2019 was 1170 and the average GPA of admitted students for the same year was 3.65. Of course, every applicant presents a different combination of test scores, curriculum choices, grade point average, recommendations, out-of-class experiences and personal traits. In general, weakness in one area can be compensated for by strength in another.


Are there any students who cannot apply test optional?
Yes, there are two groups of students who cannot apply test optional:

  • International students are required to submit standardized test scores to prove English proficiency and should consult International Admission for more information.

  • Homeschooled students also will be required to submit a standardized test score.


Will I still be eligible for the Honors Program and scholarships if I apply test optional?
Yes, you will still be eligible.

Scholarships are awarded to students who have outstanding academic ability or talent. If you apply test optional, you will still be given full consideration for scholarships based on your academic achievements in a strong curriculum.

The Honors Program at North Central College is a great opportunity for highly motivated students. Most students who enter the Honors Program are in the top 10 percent of their high school class and have a cumulative GPA higher than 3.5.

After a student is admitted to North Central College, a separate application process is required for the Honors program, which includes additional essay questions. Applicant responses to these questions are carefully considered. Find out more about the Honors Program.


If I enroll at North Central College, will I need to submit my ACT, SAT or CLT scores?
Yes. If you took the ACT, SAT or CLT, we ask that you submit your test scores after you enroll at North Central College. The scores will be used to study the success of the test optional program and will not be used for any other purposes.