If I'm Applying to an Art/Design school, Do My SAT Scores Matter?

If I'm Applying to an Art/Design school, Do My SAT Scores Matter?

Short answer: maybe. As with most admission questions, the answer here depends on which schools we’re talking about.

Applying to Juilliard? For most applicants, there is no standardized-test requirement (though make sure to check the requirements for your focus here). The focus on admission there—which is highly competitive—is your portfolio and/or audition, as well as a supplementary essay.

But Juilliard is in the minority; most art schools today do require to students submit standardized test scores.

For some art schools, the standardized-test requirements are relatively low. For example, according to Inside Higher Ed, an ACT score of 18 (with a high school GPA of 2.2) qualifies most prospective students at the Memphis College of Art not only for admission, but for scholarship money. And at many art schools, a strong portfolio, audition, or interview can make up for weak academic performance in high school.

Still, at other schools, there is an expectation for reasonably strong GPAs and standardized test scores. For instance, at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, the average SAT score for incoming students is 1180—not an elite SAT score, but above average. (As you’ll see in Inside Higher Ed piece linked above, the reason that some art schools do value standardized test scores is that there is a correlation between high test scores and student retention.)

So, if you are interested in applying to art or design school, make sure to visit your prospective colleges’ websites—or even better, call their admission offices. It is never too early to have a clear picture on a school’s expectations. The more information you have early on, the better prepared you will be when it college application season rolls around.


Stephen P. is a writer and teacher based in Los Angeles. He has taught literature and writing courses at several universities and has taught writing and reading at Elite Prep Los Angeles since 2010.