Test Optional at NYU: What It Is and Isn’t

Cue the “MythBusters” theme song

A hand holding a pen and writing on paper.

**This article was initially published in November 2021, and has since been updated.

Earlier this year we announced our test optional policy for the 2022-2023 application cycle. We’re proud of the test flexible policy we offered students in the past, but we understand that policy may not be flexible enough with the challenges from COVID-19. So what does “test optional” mean anyway? Here’s what it does and does not mean for your application.

You Know What It Is

What Test Optional (at NYU) Is

It’s important to remember that I’m only talking about NYU here. Even if other colleges and universities use the same language, like “test optional,” it may mean different things. Clarifying with each school what their testing policy means for you is important. For example, we offered a test “flexible” policy in the past. This meant we considered a number of different exams as standardized testing, not just the SAT and ACT. Within this test flexible policy, students applying to certain programs at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and the Tisch School of the Arts could apply as test optional (here’s what I mean when I say you need to clarify!).

So what does “test optional” mean at NYU? It means you aren’t required to submit standardized test scores as part of your application when you apply to any school or program at NYU. However, you will still need to submit all other requirements:

  • The Common Application
  • High school transcripts
  • School profile (your school counselor submits this)
  • Two letters of recommendations
  • Essays

What If I Want to Submit Testing?

You can! We still have our test flexible policy in place. This means you have options when it comes to submitting standardized testing. You can select from the following types of tests:

Remember, if you decide to submit standardized testing, you must fulfill the requirements outlined above.

What It Isn’t

Are you thinking, “I thought test optional meant I didn’t have to submit ANY testing”? While standardized testing is no longer required, there are still a few cases where students need to send specific types of test scores.

English Language Testing

English is the language of instruction at all NYU campuses. Therefore, it’s important for students to have a strong understanding of the language to be successful in the classroom. As a result, students who indicate English is not their native language and haven’t spent at least three years of full-time study in an English-using curriculum at the time of application are required to submit English language testing scores.

English language exam results must be less than two years old when submitted with your application. Like our flexible standardized testing policy, we accept a number of different exams to fulfill this requirement:

Due to COVID-19, some English language test offerings have changed. Please note, we do not accept results from the IELTS Indicator, the TOEFL ITP Plus for China, TOEFL Essentials, or the PTE Academic Online.

Graduation Exams

Some curriculums around the world require students to take final exams or national exams to graduate. If you are in a curriculum requiring you to complete an exam in order to graduate high school, you are required to submit the results to NYU. Unsure if this is you? Use our International Qualifications Tool to understand what we need to satisfy your high school graduation requirements.

In conclusion, I hope this clarifies what “test optional” means at NYU. We look forward to reviewing your application!