Do Colleges Require the ACT Scores for the ACT Writing Test?

By Peterson's Staff updated on Thursday, March 20, 2014

Well...yes, no, and maybe! As yet, there isn’t any one rule. Each school makes its own decision about requiring your ACT scores from this portion of the test -- some require it, others don’t, and still others will accept it, but not require it. Sound complicated? It isn’t, really. If the school you want to attend requires the Writing ACT scores, then you’re going to have to take it to be considered for admission.

ACT testing: But I already wrote an essay…

Even if you wrote an essay as part of your college application, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Although several colleges feel that their pre-existing writing requirement is adequate, some have decided they want to see how you do on the ACT Writing Test, too. Why? It provides an example of your writing without hours and hours of editing. Schools like this want to have as much data as possible on which to base their decision.

Other schools might only use the ACT test as a reflection of your writing skills… but that’s not to say that this couldn’t change. If you aren’t applying for school for a while, and the schools on your list currently require the test, check back with them before you apply. Some are evaluating the effectiveness of the new test in assisting with admission decisions and will decide later whether to continue to use it or lose it.

ACT testing: I don’t have to take it. Should I?

If the school you’re applying to doesn’t require the test, but will accept the scores, decide for yourself if it’s in your favor to take it. It never hurts to put in a little extra time and effort, especially if you’re an awesome writer and really excel in that area. It could further your chances for admission because most schools are very interested in learning about the areas in which you excel. If timed writing totally freaks you out, don’t count yourself out just yet. It might be a good idea to practice -- you could surprise yourself!

Really, there are no hard and fast answers. Check out search engines, surf your school’s site, or just give them a call; you’ll need to know what’s required first. If it turns out that you have the option of not taking it, you can then decide how to proceed.

If you do decide to take it, remember that ACT prep can help you develop strategies to excel in this section of ACT testing. ACT test prep will help you develop a well-crafted essay by suggesting what to include in your opening paragraph, supporting paragraphs, and closing paragraph. This ACT help is invaluable, and can help lead you to a score that will boost your chance for admission.

For some good, easily available ACT help, check out the free ACT practice test here on

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Peterson's has more than 40 years of experience in higher education, and the expert staff members here are all ready to leverage their considerable knowledge and experience to help you succeed on your educational journey. We have the information, the know-how, and the tools -- now all we need is you!

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