Test-free Admissions Processes

We 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 competitive scholarships. 

At NIU we know our students are more than a one-time standardized test score. That's why we no longer consider ACT or SAT scores for general admission or merit scholarships. 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 to the University. There are some limited-admission programs which may have additional program admission requirements. Read more about our Limited Admission Programs.

Holistic Review Process

If your GPA is below 3.0, we'll process your application through holistic review—a personalized evaluation of your application and circumstances. Our holistic review process considers your individual situation, involvement and achievements in addition to your academic record. As part of the process, we'll ask you to provide one or more of the following:

  • Responses to the holistic review questions.
  • Grades from the first semester of your senior year.
  • An interview.

Learn how to prepare for the holistic review process.

Holistic Review and the CHANCE Program

After being accepted to NIU through the holistic review process, you may be selected to join our CHANCE Program, which provides additional guidance and support. You can also nominate yourself to participate. Learn more about joining the CHANCE Program.

University Honors

The University Honors Program also uses a holistic review process and does not consider ACT or SAT scores. Learn how to apply for the University Honors Program.

Frequently Asked Questions


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
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