Test-free Admissions Processes

Starting with the fall 2021 freshman class, we'll no longer consider ACT or SAT scores for general admission or merit scholarships. We'll look at your high school GPA instead. Research shows that GPA is a better indicator of success in college. 

You may need to provide your ACT or SAT score for certain other scholarships. 

At NIU we know our students are more than a one-time standardized test score. That's why we'll no longer consider ACT or SAT scores for general admission or merit scholarships, starting with the fall 2021 freshman class. Hear first-hand from NIU leaders about the importance of this historic decision.

GPA Criteria

If you have a cumulative high school GPA of 3.0 or higher, you're guaranteed general admission. The exception to this is our limited-admission nursing program. Read more about admission to the nursing program.

If your GPA is below 3.0, we'll get to know you through a holistic application review process - a flexible, personalized review of your application and circumstances. We know high school grades don't always tell the whole story.

Merit Scholarships

If you're applying for admission to fall 2021, we'll automatically consider you for merit scholarships based on your high school GPA alone.

Learn more about your financial aid options. Our advisors are ready to help show you that an NIU education is within your reach.

University Honors

The University Honors Program also uses a holistic review process and does not consider ACT or SAT scores.


Frequently Asked Questions

General

What does test-free admissions processes mean? Is it the same as test-optional?

Test-free means that we will not review standardized test scores (SAT or ACT) for general admission and merit scholarship consideration starting with applicants for the fall of 2021. This is different than the growing number of "test-optional" institutions, where you can choose whether you would like your test score included as part of admission.

Why is NIU adopting a test-free admission policy?

Our decision to go test-free comes from our deep commitment to making a college education accessible, affordable and equitable for a broad and diverse student population. National higher educational studies, as well as our own analysis, shows that a student’s high school GPA is a much better indicator of future academic success than performance on a standardized test.

This compelling research shows that underprivileged students and students with disabilities are disadvantaged with standardized testing due to costs and inaccessibility of test preparation resources and courses. We’re consistently working to eliminate unnecessary and biased barriers throughout a student’s educational path to help foster success and social mobility.

Doesn’t removing the test score mean you’re lowering the admission criteria?

No. In fact, before the new policy, students with a 2.5 GPA or higher could potentially be automatically admitted, depending upon their standardized test scores. The new policy increases that automatic admission GPA to 3.0.

For students with a GPA below 3.0, we'll use a holistic application review to make admission decisions based upon the specific circumstances of each student and to determine each student's likely ability to succeed.

Will you consider weighted or unweighted GPAs?

We'll consider both, depending on what's listed on your high school transcript. If there's a weighted GPA on your transcript, we'll consider it for both general admission and merit scholarships.

What is a holistic application review?

If you have a GPA below 3.0, we'll use a holistic application review process to make an admission decision based on your specific circumstances.

In a holistic application review, we consider many factors, including your academic preparation, academic performance, motivation, resilience and resourcefulness. This helps us get to know you personally and determine your likely ability to succeed.

We may request additional materials to complete the review. Be sure to submit these as soon as possible, so we can complete the review and give you an admission decision.

Applying in Certain Situations

Applying to Specific Programs

Can I apply to the CHANCE Program?

With the equity-minded, test-free admission and holistic review processes implemented by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions, the McKinley "Deacon" Davis CHANCE Program has shifted to fully devote its staff and resources to support students through their NIU journey.

Contact Us

Office of Admissions
Williston Hall
DeKalb, IL 60115
815-753-0446
admissions@niu.edu
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