Test Optional Policy

Bowdoin College was the first school to eliminate standardized testing requirements. That was 50 years ago.

Since 1969, we've been selecting the right applicants for Bowdoin, using only the materials that we require of you: your transcripts, your writing, and how your teachers talk about you.

This policy allows applicants to decide for themselves whether or not their SAT or ACT 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. See below for important exceptions to this policy.

Nearly 30 percent of matriculants (in the class of 2022) chose not to submit their 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.

Superscoring

Bowdoin will "superscore" the SAT. Meaning, 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 also 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, reported by the testing agency, or submitted through the self-report form found in the Bowdoin Application Portal. We accept self-reported scores for all applicants.

Bowdoin will verify scores for all enrolling students. Discrepancies between self-reported and official scores may jeopardize a student’s place at Bowdoin.

Official Score Reports

We will accept scores reported on a school transcript or sent to our office by a school counselor or CBO advisor as official. Official score reports may be sent to our office by email, fax, 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. 

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

VIDEO:
Bowdoin College Admissions Dean Whitney Soule on our Test-Optional Policy

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.
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