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.

The ACT® writing test helps colleges assess your writing and critical thinking skills without having to spend hours editing essay submissions. However, the writing test isn't always required. Depending on your major and the college you want to go to, you might not be required to take the ACT writing test. Based on the specific college's needs, they will decide if the ACT writing test is not needed, recommended, or required.

Go to the ACT.org website to search an up-to-date list of the colleges that have reported their decision to ACT. You should also contact your school's admissions department to be sure of their ACT requirements when you submit your application.

Also, remember that the ACT writing test is different than the essay that your college might require. In some cases you may have to submit both an essay for your college application and an ACT writing test score. So, before you decide to take the ACT, be sure you check with potential colleges first.

Should you take the ACT writing test if it isn't required?

The answer to this is up to you. Taking the ACT can be stressful and does cost a little extra money, so depending on your own academic goals, you may want to decline from taking the ACT writing test if you don't feel that it is needed. However, if you do decide to take the writing test just in case or because you want to see how you do, make sure that you prepare far in advance by practicing with writing prompts and getting feedback from your mentors. ACT consistently updates their tests to ensure they are rigorous for today's students and knowing what to expect is key to scoring high.

Get the best score on the ACT: See practice tests, sample questions, and the ACT Prep Guide.