Test Optional Policy

Bowdoin does not require most applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores for the purposes of admission. The College has been "test optional" since 1969. See below for important exceptions to this policy.

This policy allows applicants to decide for themselves whether or not their test results accurately reflect their academic ability and potential. For candidates electing to submit them, test scores will be reviewed along with other indicators of academic ability.

Around 30 percent of matriculants (in the class of 2018) chose not to submit scores.

Score Suppression

Applicants indicate on their applications whether they would like Bowdoin to review their standardized test results. Applicants also have the option to select some test types and not others for review (for example, a student might choose to include SAT Subject Test scores but not an SAT score). Applicants have until the application deadline to suppress their scores.

For applicants using the Common Application, these questions are located in the Bowdoin-specific questions section of the application. For applicants using the Coalition Application, these questions are located in the Application Questions section. For applicants using the QuestBridge Application, these questions are located on a Bowdoin-specific form available in the applicant portal after submitting the application.

Bowdoin will not review selected sections of an SAT or an ACT score (for example, just the Science portion of the ACT). If an applicant chooses to include scores for a specific test type, Bowdoin will review the complete score for that test type.

Redesigned SAT

The College Board began administering the Redesigned SAT in March 2016. Applicants who decide to include their SAT results as part of their applications will NOT be required to submit the optional written section (SAT Essay).

Bowdoin will continue to accept SAT results for exams taken before the March 2016 redesign for first year and transfer applicants.


Bowdoin will "superscore" the SAT. That is, the admissions committee will consider the highest Critical Reading, Math, and Writing Scores submitted by an applicant, irrespective of test date.

Bowdoin will NOT combine results from Redesigned and pre-Redesign SAT exams to create a new total score. We will superscore Redesigned and pre-Redesign results separately, considering the highest section and total scores submitted from either set of results.

Bowdoin superscores the ACT. The admissions committee will consider the highest submitted Composite score and subsection scores, and will also recalculate a new Composite score from subsection scores earned on different test dates.

Score Reports

For students submitting standardized test scores, we will accept scores that are self-reported on the student’s application or by sending a copy of the student score report provided by the testing agency. We accept self-reported scores for all applicants.

We will also accept scores reported on a school transcript or sent to our office by a school counselor or CBO advisor.  Score reports may be sent to our office by email, fax, or mail or directly from the testing agency.  Our testing codes are: 3089 (College Board) and 1636 (ACT).

Is standardized testing required for certain applicants?

Yes. Home-schooled applicants and candidates applying from secondary schools that provide written evaluations rather than grades are required to submit either the ACT test results OR the SAT test results as well as two or more SAT Subject Tests. SAT Subject Tests should include Math Level 1 or Math Level 2 and a science.

International applicants can find more information about required testing on the International Applicant page.

Note: Because standardized test results are used for academic counseling and placement as well as for the College's ongoing research into the relationship between standardized testing and success at Bowdoin, all entering first-year students must submit scores over the summer prior to matriculating at Bowdoin.