Test-Optional FAQs

Based on research and DePaul’s student-centered approach to education, DePaul has adopted a test-optional alternative for freshman admission. Students applying for freshman admission can choose whether or not to submit ACT or SAT scores as part of the application. Students who do not submit test scores will be required to send responses to several short essay questions. These supplemental essays require no prior preparation and simply ask you to reflect on your own experiences to help us learn more about you.

1. Why does DePaul make submitting standardized test scores optional?

DePaul engages in a holistic review of applicants and the test-optional alternative allows us to consider your strengths that may be demonstrated in areas other than your ACT or SAT score. Both our internal and external research show that your high school record, in particular your grades in challenging core subjects, is the most important academic component in the review for admission. By allowing you to determine how to best showcase your academic performance, DePaul is emphasizing that four years of perseverance, motivation and effort during high school bear a direct relationship to successful college-level work. ​

2. How do I know if I should apply test optional?

If you are satisfied with your test scores and believe they are indicative of your academic achievement, then we are happy to consider them as part of your application. If you have a strong academic record demonstrated by above average grades in challenging courses, but do not feel your test results are a good reflection of your academic performance, you can choose not to submit them. Please also reference the information provided in question #6 to help you make this decision.

We strongly recommend that you carefully consider your decision to apply with or without test scores. You will be asked to indicate whether or not you are applying test optional on the DePaul Application for Freshman Admission, or if you are applying using the Common Application (strongly recommended), on the DePaul Member Screen. Once you have submitted your application, you will be unable to change to the other option.

You must choose to apply either as test optional or with your test scores. Students applying to DePaul cannot submit more than one application. If a student submits more than one application, our system will only recognize the first application received, and the admission decision will be based on that application alone. ​

3. What if my scores are sent from a testing agency or included on my transcripts?

If your scores are sent to us from the testing agency or are included on your high school transcript, you can still apply test optional as long as you indicate that option on your application. If you apply test optional, your test scores will not be taken into consideration as part of the application review. ​

4. How will DePaul Admission evaluate students who do not submit test scores?

Because DePaul has always considered applicants from a holistic point of view, the review process for students who submit ACT or SAT scores and students who do not submit scores will be very similar. When considering an applicant for admission, we will closely evaluate your overall academic record, including grades earned in academic coursework, performance in honors, International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement courses, and grades trends throughout your high school career. In addition, other factors will include letters of recommendation, co-curricular activities, community involvement, writing ability and other achievements.

Generally, students who are most competitive in DePaul’s admission process have taken four years in each of the core areas (English, math, natural science and social science/history). If your high school offers advanced placement (AP) or honors courses or the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, your involvement in this type of rigorous high school curriculum will reflect positively on your application. We will carefully review the strength of your high school classes and your performance in them.

If you apply test optional, you will be required to respond to several short essay questions about your personal experiences. In addition, you may submit the optional personal essay as a part of your application. Applicants applying test optional will be reviewed separately from applicants applying with SAT or ACT scores. Because we conduct a thorough review of your high school curriculum and grades (paying particular attention to any honors and advanced level courses you have taken) and carefully consider your responses to the essay questions, your application may take additional time to review. ​

5. How do I access the essay questions?

Test optional applicants are strongly encouraged to use the Common Application which will allow direct access to the required essay questions. Once you indicate that you are applying test optional on the DePaul University Member Screen of the Common Application, you will gain access to a Writing Supplement that contains the supplemental essay questions. These essay questions are intended to be concise reflections, in your own voice, and do not require prior preparation. You must complete and submit the essay questions online via the Common Application Writing Supplement. ​

6. How do I know if my academic record is strong enough to apply test optional?

Because we evaluate each application holistically and individually, there is no formula we can provide to help you decide. However, a profile of the students currently enrolled at DePaul might give you some guidance. Here is a summary of the high school records and test scores of the last four admitted and enrolling freshman classes:

Standardized Test Scores

ACT Composite
One quarter of the students were above 27
The middle half of the students fell between​ 23-27
One quarter of the students were below​ 23
SAT Math + Verbal
One quarter of the students were above 1240
The middle half of the students fell between 1050-1240
One quarter of the students were below 1050

High School GPA

One quarter of the students were above 3.68*
The middle half of the students fell between 3.1-3.67
One quarter of the students were below 3.1

* The average GPA for admitted and enrolling Test-Optional applicants was 3.7.

Of course, every applicant presents a different combination of test scores, curriculum choices, grade point average, recommendations, out-of-class experiences and personal traits. In general, weakness in one area can be compensated for by strength in another.

7. How will my answers to the essay questions be evaluated?

We look for clear, concise and focused writing that represents you in an authentic manner. We want your essays to provide us with information about your strengths that we would not otherwise garner from your application. The essays provide you with the opportunity to share some insight into your educational motivation, short and long term goals, leadership experience and community involvement. ​

8. Are there any students who cannot apply test optional?

Yes, there are three groups of students who cannot apply test optional:

  • Prospective student athletes are mandated by the NCAA to submit standardized test scores for athletic eligibility.
  • International students are required to submit standardized test scores to prove English proficiency and should consult International Admission for more information.
  • Homeschooled students also will be required to submit a standardized test score.

9. Will I still be eligible for the University Honors Program and scholarships if I apply test optional?

Yes, you will still be eligible for both.

The University Honors Program at DePaul is a great opportunity for highly motivated students. Most students who enter the University Honors Program are in the top 10 percent of their high school class and have a cumulative GPA higher than 3.5.

After a student is admitted to DePaul, a separate application process is required for the University Honors program, which includes additional essay questions. Applicant responses to these questions are carefully considered. Find out more about the University Honors Program​.

Scholarships are awarded to students who have outstanding academic ability or talent, or who have demonstrated leadership in serving others. If you apply test optional, you will still be given full consideration for scholarships based on your academic achievements in a strong curriculum, leadership in service or talent in the performing arts.

10. If I enroll at DePaul, will I need to submit my ACT or SAT scores?

Yes. If you took the ACT or SAT, we ask that you submit your test scores after you enroll at DePaul. The scores will be used to study the success of the test optional pilot program and will not be used for any other purposes. ​