Standardized Testing

Our admission process is holistic, and test scores are one element that help us assess your readiness for Occidental.

What is Occidental's philosophy on standardized test scores?

Occidental utilizes a comprehensive review process when considering students for admission. We value academic performance, extracurricular achievement and personal attributes when evaluating first-year and transfer applications.

In our review of your academic record, Occidental places the most emphasis on course rigor and classroom performance. Because Occidental receives applications from students at a wide variety of schools across the United States and around the world, we utilize standardized test scores to give additional context to your classroom performance. 

Standardized testing policy for first-year applicants attending International Baccalaureate (IB) high schools outside of the United States: The submission of an SAT or ACT test score is not required to complete your application if you are a first-year applicant who is enrolled in a full International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IBDP) at a secondary school outside of the US. Occidental is aware of the limited availability of SAT and ACT administrations outside of the United States; we recognize the challenge that many students who reside outside of the United States face in registering for an SAT or ACT, so IBDP predicted/final scores can be used by the admission committee in place of SAT or ACT scores.

For IBDP students who choose not to submit SAT or ACT scores, predicted/final IB scores may be submitted by your high school on the high school transcript, school report, or counselor letter. While the SAT or ACT is optional for students enrolled in full IBDP programs outside of the United States, please know that SAT or ACT scores may still be submitted with your application if you feel they are reflective of your academic ability.

Which standardized tests will Occidental accept?

SAT and ACT scores are viewed equally in our process, so students may take either exam and can submit scores from both. 

SAT II subject tests are not required for admission, but we will consider those scores in our review process.

Does Occidental require the essay portion on the SAT or ACT?
No.  The essay portion is not required.
Does Occidental “superscore?"

Yes. When reviewing standardized test results, we will always look at you “on your best day," meaning that we will always look at your best scores on each section of these exams. You should plan to send all scores to Occidental, and we will only look at your best scores when reviewing your academic record. We will always see your highest results on each section of the SAT and ACT.

How should I submit my test scores to Occidental?

Applicants may self-report scores on their application or request official scores to be sent from the testing agency. All enrolling students are required to submit an official score report before orientation, and any discrepancies between self-reported and official test scores may affect a student's offer of admission.


English Language Proficiency Tests

If English is not the language of instruction at your school, we require test results that demonstrate English language proficiency. Occidental accepts the TOEFLIELTS, and DET (Duolingo English Test)

You may be exempt from taking an English language proficiency test if:

  • your native or first language is English
  • your high school's primary language of instruction is English, and you have attended the school for more than three years (these will be assessed on a case-by-case basis)

If you wish to request a TOEFL/IELTS/DET exemption, please fill out this form. Our office will respond to you via email with further information regarding waiving your English language proficiency exam waiver.

Occidental is a writing intensive institution and our small discussion-based classes require students to have a very strong command of English. Because we do not offer remedial English or ESOL courses, you must demonstrate English language ability by scoring at least:

  • 100 on the Internet-based TOEFL (IBT)
  • 600 on the paper-based TOEFL
  • 7 on the IELTS exam
  • 120 on the DET

Please note that the above scores are minimums, and students who are most competitive in our admission process typically have scores well above these minimums. If your scores are borderline, some international applicants may be invited to have a Skype interview to confirm English language proficiency. We may contact you in February or March to schedule an interview.

Questions regarding English language proficiency tests can be sent to