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ACT Writing and SAT Essay Requirements

By August 28, 2020October 10th, 2023ACT, College Admission Requirements, SAT

On January 19th, 2021, College Board announced that they will no longer administer the SAT Subject Tests in the U.S. and that the Essay would be retired. Read our blog post to understand what this means in the near term and what the College Board has in store for students down the road.

Our articles on Subject Tests and the SAT Essay will remain on our site for reference purposes as colleges and students transition to a revised testing landscape. As an admission tool, students should consider the Essay as canceled. Compass recommends our students forgo the SAT and ACT optional essays on future exams.

The SAT Essay and ACT Writing continue to pose a conundrum for students. While College Board and ACT have made these components optional, a small number of colleges continue to require or recommend them. Compass believes that students should no longer take the SAT Essay or ACT Writing unless they are applying to (or thinking about applying to) one of the few colleges that still requires the essay. Students who have already taken the essay should not be overly concerned about scores. One reason the essay is fading away is that the scores simply aren’t that accurate or useful. Colleges never really found a use for them, and the essays created an unnecessary obstacle for some applicants.

Rather than worrying about an essay score that is mostly ignored by colleges, Compass believes students should spend their time strengthening the more valuable pieces of their academic portfolio: high school GPA and, more specifically, success in rigorous courses like APs. Compass offers AP and academic tutoring in over 50 subjects to help students stay on pace with their coursework. Our team of subject specific expert tutors will guide the program from start to finish. We also offer a Study Skills and Organizational Coaching program to provide students with the tools they need to excel in the classroom.

The following table of popular colleges provides a wide range of institutions and policies.

Colleges with essay optional policies often do not specify whether submitted essay scores will be used for admission. When the college explicitly states that scores will not be evaluated, we have listed the policy as “Not Considered.” “Optional” should not be interpreted as meaning that the college uses submitted scores. We recommend contacting the school if you have specific questions.

ACT and SAT Essay Requirements - Class of 2019 and Beyond

SchoolRegionSAT Essay RequiredACT Essay Required
Martin Luther CollegeMidwestRequiredRequired
United States Military AcademyMid-AtlanticOptionalRequired
University of Montana Western **WestRequiredOptional
University of Minnesota—​Twin CitiesMidwestOptional*Optional*
Abilene Christian UniversitySouthOptional*Optional*
Soka University of AmericaWestOptional*Optional*
Adelphi UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Agnes Scott CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
Albion CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Allegheny CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
American UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Amherst CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Appalachian State UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Arizona State University—​TempeWestOptionalOptional
Auburn UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Augustana CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Austin CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
Babson CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Baldwin Wallace UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Bard CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Barnard CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Bates CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Baylor UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Beloit CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Bennington CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Bentley UniversityNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Berea CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
Binghamton University—​SUNYMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Biola UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Birmingham-​Southern College SouthOptionalOptional
Boston CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Boston UniversityNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Bowdoin CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Bradley UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Brandeis UniversityNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Brigham Young University—​ProvoWestOptionalOptional
Brown UniversityNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Bryn Mawr CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Bucknell UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Butler UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
California Lutheran UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Carleton CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Carnegie Mellon UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Carroll CollegeWestOptionalOptional
Case Western Reserve UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Centre CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
Chapman UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Christopher Newport UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Clark UniversityNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Clarkson UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Clemson UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Coe CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Colby CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Colgate UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
College of CharlestonSouthOptionalOptional
College of New JerseyMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
College of St. BenedictMidwestOptionalOptional
College of the Holy CrossNew EnglandOptionalOptional
College of William and MarySouthOptionalOptional
College of WoosterMidwestOptionalOptional
Colorado CollegeWestOptionalOptional
Colorado School of MinesWestOptionalOptional
Colorado State UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Columbia UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Concordia College—​MoorheadMidwestOptionalOptional
Connecticut CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Cooper UnionMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Cornell CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Cornell UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Creighton UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
CUNY—​Baruch CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Dartmouth CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Davidson CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
Denison UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
DePaul UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
DePauw UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Dickinson CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Drake UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Drew UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Drexel UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Drury UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Duke UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Duquesne UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Earlham CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Elmhurst CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Elon UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Embry-​Riddle Aeronautical UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Emerson CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Emory UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Fairfield UniversityNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Florida Institute of TechnologySouthOptionalOptional
Florida State UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Fordham UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Franklin and Marshall CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Furman UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Gallaudet UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
George Mason UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
George Washington UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Georgetown UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Georgia Institute of TechnologySouthOptionalOptional
Gettysburg CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Gonzaga UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Goshen CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Goucher CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Grinnell CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Gustavus Adolphus CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Hamilton CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Hampden-​Sydney CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
Hampton UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Hanover CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Harvard University New EnglandOptionalOptional
Harvey Mudd CollegeWestOptionalOptional
Haverford CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Hendrix CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
High Point UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Hillsdale CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Hobart and William Smith CollegesMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Hofstra UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Hollins UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Hope CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Howard UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Illinois Institute of TechnologyMidwestOptionalOptional
Illinois Wesleyan UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Indiana University—​BloomingtonMidwestOptionalOptional
Iowa State UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Ithaca CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
James Madison UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
John Brown UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Johns Hopkins UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Kalamazoo CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Kenyon CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Knox CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Lafayette CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Lake Forest CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Lawrence UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Lehigh UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Lewis & Clark CollegeWestOptionalOptional
Lipscomb UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Louisiana State University—​Baton RougeSouthOptionalOptional
Loyola Marymount UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Loyola University ChicagoMidwestOptionalOptional
Loyola University MarylandMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Luther CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Macalester CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Manhattan CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Marist CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Marquette UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Mercer UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Miami University—​OxfordMidwestOptionalOptional
Michigan Technological UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Middlebury CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Millsaps CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
Milwaukee School of EngineeringMidwestOptionalOptional
Mississippi State UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Missouri University of Science & TechnologyMidwestOptionalOptional
Morehouse CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
Mount Holyoke CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Muhlenberg CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
New College of FloridaSouthOptionalOptional
New Jersey Institute of TechnologyMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
New SchoolMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
New York UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
North Carolina State University—​RaleighSouthOptionalOptional
Northeastern UniversityNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Northwestern UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Oberlin CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Occidental CollegeWestOptionalOptional
Ohio State University—​ColumbusMidwestOptionalOptional
Ohio UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Ohio Wesleyan UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Oklahoma State UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Oregon State UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Pacific Lutheran UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Pennsylvania State University—​University ParkMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Pepperdine UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Pitzer CollegeWestOptionalOptional
Point Loma Nazarene UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Pomona CollegeWestOptionalOptional
Pratt InstituteMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Presbyterian College (SC)SouthOptionalOptional
Princeton University Mid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Providence CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Purdue University—​West LafayetteMidwestOptionalOptional
Queens University of CharlotteSouthOptionalOptional
Quinnipiac UniversityNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Randolph-​Macon CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
Reed CollegeWestOptionalOptional
Rensselaer Polytechnic InstituteMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Rhode Island School of DesignNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Rhodes CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
Rice UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Ripon CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Rochester Institute of TechnologyMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Rollins CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—​New BrunswickMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—​NewarkMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Saint Louis UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Sam Houston State UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Samford UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
San Francisco State UniversityWestOptionalOptional
San Jose State UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Santa Clara UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Sarah Lawrence CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Scripps CollegeWestOptionalOptional
Seattle UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Seton Hall UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Sewanee—​University of the SouthSouthOptionalOptional
Siena CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Simmons UniversityNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Skidmore CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Smith CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Southern Methodist UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Southwestern UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Spelman CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
St. John Fisher CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
St. John's College AnnapolisMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
St. John's University (NY)Mid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
St. Lawrence UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
St. Mary's College (IN)MidwestOptionalOptional
St. Mary's College of CaliforniaWestOptionalOptional
St. Mary's College of MarylandMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
St. Michael's CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
St. Olaf CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Stanford UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Stetson UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Stevens Institute of TechnologyMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Stonehill CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Stony Brook University—​SUNYMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
SUNY College of Environmental Science and ForestryMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Susquehanna UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Swarthmore CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Syracuse UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Temple UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Texas A&M University—​College StationSouthOptionalOptional
Texas Christian UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Texas Lutheran UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
The Catholic University of AmericaMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
The CitadelSouthOptionalOptional
Thomas Aquinas CollegeWestOptionalOptional
Transylvania UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Trinity College (Hartford)New EnglandOptionalOptional
Trinity UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Truman State UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Tufts UniversityNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Tulane UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Union College (Schenectady, NY)Mid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
United States Air Force AcademyWestOptionalOptional
United States Coast Guard AcademyNew EnglandOptionalOptional
United States Naval AcademyMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
University at Albany—​SUNYMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
University at Buffalo—​SUNYMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
University of AlabamaSouthOptionalOptional
University of ArizonaWestOptionalOptional
University of Arkansas—​FayettevilleSouthOptionalOptional
University of ChicagoMidwestOptionalOptional
University of CincinnatiMidwestOptionalOptional
University of Colorado—​BoulderWestOptionalOptional
University of ConnecticutNew EnglandOptionalOptional
University of DallasSouthOptionalOptional
University of DaytonMidwestOptionalOptional
University of DelawareMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
University of DenverWestOptionalOptional
University of FloridaSouthOptionalOptional
University of GeorgiaSouthOptionalOptional
University of Hawaii at ManoaWestOptionalOptional
University of Illinois—​ChicagoMidwestOptionalOptional
University of Illinois—​Urbana-​ChampaignMidwestOptionalOptional
University of IowaMidwestOptionalOptional
University of KansasMidwestOptionalOptional
University of KentuckySouthOptionalOptional
University of La VerneWestOptionalOptional
University of Mary WashingtonSouthOptionalOptional
University of Maryland—​College ParkMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
University of Massachusetts—​AmherstNew EnglandOptionalOptional
University of Michigan—​Ann ArborMidwestOptionalOptional
University of MississippiSouthOptionalOptional
University of MissouriMidwestOptionalOptional
University of Nebraska—​LincolnMidwestOptionalOptional
University of New HampshireNew EnglandOptionalOptional
University of North Carolina—​Chapel HillSouthOptionalOptional
University of North Carolina—​WilmingtonSouthOptionalOptional
University of North TexasSouthOptionalOptional
University of Notre DameMidwestOptionalOptional
University of OklahomaSouthOptionalOptional
University of OregonWestOptionalOptional
University of PennsylvaniaMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
University of PittsburghMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
University of PortlandWestOptionalOptional
University of Puget SoundWestOptionalOptional
University of RedlandsWestOptionalOptional
University of RichmondSouthOptionalOptional
University of RochesterMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
University of San DiegoWestOptionalOptional
University of San FranciscoWestOptionalOptional
University of South CarolinaSouthOptionalOptional
University of South FloridaSouthOptionalOptional
University of Southern CaliforniaWestOptionalOptional
University of St. Thomas (MN)MidwestOptionalOptional
University of TennesseeSouthOptionalOptional
University of Texas—​AustinSouthOptionalOptional
University of Texas—​DallasSouthOptionalOptional
University of the PacificWestOptionalOptional
University of TulsaSouthOptionalOptional
University of UtahWestOptionalOptional
University of VermontNew EnglandOptionalOptional
University of VirginiaSouthOptionalOptional
University of WashingtonWestOptionalOptional
University of Wisconsin—​MadisonMidwestOptionalOptional
Ursinus CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Valparaiso UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Vanderbilt UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Vassar CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Villanova UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Virginia Commonwealth UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Virginia Military InstituteSouthOptionalOptional
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Wabash CollegeMidwestOptionalOptional
Wake Forest UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Washington and Jefferson CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Washington and Lee UniversitySouthOptionalOptional
Washington CollegeMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
Washington State UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Washington University in St. LouisSouthOptionalOptional
Wellesley CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Wesleyan UniversityNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Westmont CollegeWestOptionalOptional
Wheaton College (IL)MidwestOptionalOptional
Whitman CollegeWestOptionalOptional
Whittier CollegeWestOptionalOptional
Willamette UniversityWestOptionalOptional
Williams CollegeNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Wofford CollegeSouthOptionalOptional
Worcester Polytechnic InstituteNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Xavier UniversityMidwestOptionalOptional
Yale UniversityNew EnglandOptionalOptional
Yeshiva UniversityMid-AtlanticOptionalOptional
California Institute of TechnologyWestNot ConsideredNot Considered
California Polytechnic State University--PomonaWestNot Considered*Not Considered*
California Polytechnic State University—​San Luis ObispoWestNot Considered*Not Considered*
California State University--FresnoWestNot Considered*Not Considered*
California State University--FullertonWestNot Considered*Not Considered*
California State University--Long BeachWestNot Considered*Not Considered*
California State University--Los AngelesWestNot Considered*Not Considered*
California State University--Monterey BayWestNot Considered*Not Considered*
California State University--NorthridgeWestNot Considered*Not Considered*
Humboldt State University WestNot Considered*Not Considered*
San Diego State UniversityWestNot Considered*Not Considered*
Loyola University New OrleansSouthNot Considered*Not Considered*
Michigan State UniversityMidwestNot ConsideredNot Considered
University of California—​BerkeleyWestNot ConsideredNot Considered
University of California—​DavisWestNot ConsideredNot Considered
University of California—​IrvineWestNot ConsideredNot Considered
University of California—​Los AngelesWestNot ConsideredNot Considered
University of California—MercedWestNot ConsideredNot Considered
University of California—RiversideWestNot ConsideredNot Considered
University of California—​San DiegoWestNot ConsideredNot Considered
University of California—​Santa BarbaraWestNot ConsideredNot Considered
University of California—​Santa CruzWestNot ConsideredNot Considered
Claremont McKenna CollegeWestNot ConsideredNot Considered
University of MiamiSouthNot ConsideredNot Considered

* In response to COVID-19, these schools have announced temporary test optional or test blind policies, which also effects their essay requirements and recommendations. Please check with the individual schools for more information.

** University of Montana Western has students submit ACT Writing in order to satisfy English proficiency requirements.

Post a comment or send an email to guide@compassprep.com with questions or recommended changes.

Related posts:

ACT Writing scores have gone through multiple changes. To try to clear things up, Compass has published ACT Writing Scores Explained. A similar analysis for the SAT is also available.

Our College Profiles page provides SAT and ACT scores for some of the most competitive colleges in the country.

Score choice and superscoring policies can be found for more than 400 popular colleges and universities.

Subject Test requirements continue to evolve, so Compass keeps an up-to-date list.

Updated 6/24/2020

Art Sawyer

Art graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, where he was the top-ranked liberal arts student in his class. Art pioneered the one-on-one approach to test prep in California in 1989 and co-founded Compass Education Group in 2004 in order to bring the best ideas and tutors into students' homes and computers. Although he has attained perfect scores on all flavors of the SAT and ACT, he is routinely beaten in backgammon.


  • Crystal says:

    Hi Mr. Sawyer,

    I’m in an interesting situation with my test scores. I took both the SAT (1550) and ACT (35) last fall as a junior without the essay component but took the ACT (33) this summer with the essay (10). For schools that recommend/require the essay AND superscore, can I send in my essay score with the final superscored composite (35) or must it be submitted with my original composite score? If so, would you recommend that I retake the SAT this time in hopes of receiving a high essay score?

    Also, most of the schools I would like to apply to have the essay portion as ‘optional,’ but is it advantageous to send the scores in or does it have no impact on my application?

    Crystal K,

    • Art Sawyer says:

      You can only report an essay score by reporting all of your scores (at least via an official score report). Likewise, if you report your ACT scores, your Writing score will be included. You can’t opt out. I would not worry about it. If a school superscores, they will not downgrade you because of the 33. If the essay is optional, I don’t see any reason to submit that test date.

  • Emma says:


    Thank you for your website and all the information you provide. My daughter is interested in physics, engineering STEM. Her subject test scores: Chemistry 730, Math 800. She took the ACT and received a 35 Composite ( 35-Math, Science, Reading. 34 English) however only a 6 on the essay. (This was her second ACT, first ACT 33 composite no essay) Do you think the essay score have a will have a negative consequence on colleges that do not require the essay? Of the few that do require the essay do you think she should retake it? Is the Chem subject test score ok for the selective schools?
    Again, thank you!

    • Art Sawyer says:

      The essay is quickly disappearing from colleges’ radar, and I do not think her 6 is a reason to retake. I look at Subject Test scores this way: Does the score improve my test portfolio, hurt my portfolio, or fit in with the rest of my portfolio? In the case of the Chem 730, I think it fits with the rest of your daughter’s profile.

  • Pristina says:

    How much weight is given to SAT Essay scores at schools with no Essay requirement? Are there any unspoken rules that it’s best to submit an Essay score no matter what? Or do Optional schools really just not care?

    • Art Sawyer says:

      Keep in mind that every college is different and individual admission officers may be influenced by different factors. With that said, the Essay is dying a quick death. Most schools fall in the “just don’t care” box at this point. Having at least one essay score is helpful in case a student decides to apply to a Required college, but it is unlikely to play a role at Optional colleges.

  • TC says:

    Looks like Miami has changed the wording on their website to say not required for admission and no longer says anything about placement (I just noticed it this summer), do you have any updates on that?

    This is their old statement:

    3. Send Official Test Scores
    All testing must be completed by November for Early Decision I and Early Action applicants and all testing must be completed by December for Early Decision II and Regular Decision applicants.

    Test scores will only be accepted if they are submitted directly from the testing agency. If you take the test more than once, please ensure that the testing agency sends all of your scores so that we have your best performance on record. The Admission Committee will consider all official test scores from multiple test dates. We will use the highest composite score from among each test that you’ve taken. This is called super scoring. There is no limit to the number of test scores you may submit to us for your application.

    We consider only the critical reading and math sections of the SAT for admission. Beginning Fall 2017, the ACT Plus Writing or the Redesigned SAT with optional Essay will be required for new undergraduate applicants with fewer than thirty transfer credits for English course placement.

    Beginning in Spring 2016, applicants may submit scores from either the current or redesigned SAT. Students who take both tests will be evaluated on their best score. We will continue to super score the SAT. A concordance table is used to determine your highest critical reading and math scores, regardless of when the test was taken.

    This is their new statement:

    3. Send Official Test Scores
    We only accept official scores directly from the ACT and/or the SAT. For the ACT, we only consider the English, Math, Reading, and Science sections; for the SAT, we only consider the Reading and Math sections. The Essay and/or Writing sections for both exams are not required for admission. There is no limit to the number of test scores you may submit with your application. If you take the test more than once, please ensure that the testing agency sends us all of your scores as we will superscore your test results. Be sure to complete all testing by the following dates:

    • Art Sawyer says:

      When we contacted them in June, they still said that the essay was needed for placement. I agree with your interpretation of the new page, which went live sometime in July. It sure seems definitive. We are going to reach out to Miami to get final confirmation. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

    • Art Sawyer says:

      We contacted Miami, and they are still maintaining that it is required for placement. Given their testing page, I find it hard to believe that they are rejecting students for not having an essay score. We will be leaving it up, however, until we get clearer guidance from the school. The did say that a single test with an essay is fine.

      • TC says:

        Interesting because I contacted them as well and was told they are no longer requiring for placement and at students do not need either…i find it difficult to believe they would have reworded their website so drastically while still requiring. I am going to continue to dig into this further.

        • Art Sawyer says:

          I agree with you. I’d feel much better about dropping it if we were getting consistent answers. If you got the name of who you talked to, I’d be interested in following up. I won’t post it here.

  • Steph says:

    So just to clarify: you cannot super score individual composite scores of ACT tests, if the ACT tests you have taken were with the essay. So if I am taking the ACT again (second time) with essay but I do not feel confident that I will get a better writing score, I should not take it with the essay. But rather take the second test without the essay so i can super score all of my composite scores (from my first and second try) to get the best score.

    • Art Sawyer says:

      Of the colleges that superscore ACT scores, I am not aware of any that will not superscore between ACT W/Writing and ACT W/O Writing. If you are applying to the University of California system, I would recommend repeating the essay. Otherwise, you should be able to save yourself the headache.

  • Luna says:

    My essay writing is not strong so I originally planned not to take the SAT essay. However, for schools that recommend the essay, is it better to not take it or is it better to just take it ?

    • Art Sawyer says:

      That’s a difficult question to answer because of all of the potential factors. Have you had a practice essay scored to know where you stand? If you haven’t, I recommend it. Also, don’t expect an essay score to stand out in the same way that your ERW and M scores might. Even a “not strong” essay score can be fine. Some colleges feel that removing “recommended” would mean that they are diminishing the importance of writing as a skill. That’s not the same thing as saying that it is important to them in the admission process. If you really feel that you will do poorly or that the anxiety might negatively impact the rest of your test, you should be OK without it.

  • LF says:

    Hi Mr. Sawyer,

    If I did well on the SAT essay, can I just retake the SAT without essay when applying for the University of California schools?

  • From Texas says:

    My daughter is trying to get in as an out of state student to University of North Carolina and University of Michigan as her top 2 choices. She scored a 33 on ACT with a 6 writing, which she took because Michigan said it was required. She clearly wasn’t prepared for the writing section, so she just took it again and scored a bit lower on her composite but the same on the essay. Then we went to a college fair and spoke to a Michigan Admissions Officer who said Michigan has decided NOT to require writing. She wants to apply to both as Early Action, but doesn’t have time to retake ACT without writing for that deadline. Her SAT is a 1450. Do you think reporting her 33 ACT with the poor writing score will hurt her at UNC or Michigan, even though they say it is not required, and UNC says it is discouraged? OR should we send her 1450 SAT without a writing score? Thank you for your insight.

    • Art Sawyer says:

      It seems like your daughter already has a nice alternative in her SAT score. Her 1450 is concordant with her 33 ACT and doesn’t come with any essay baggage. I really doubt that the 6 would impact her, but I also don’t see the need to report her ACT.

  • Shelden says:

    Hi, I scored 1500 on the SAT with Essay (7 6 7). I’m thinking about taking the ACT to just try it and see if I can score better on it than SAT. Let’s say I take the ACT without writing and scored better on it than SAT and I send both scores to a school that requires the writing part. Will they look at my ACT score and my SAT Essay score or I have to take the ACT with writing in order for the score to be considered.

    • Art Sawyer says:

      I am not aware of any college that allows the fulfillment of the essay requirement with one test while using the scores from a different exam. You will need to take the ACT with Writing if you are considering colleges that require the essay.

  • Dan Ascher says:

    Hi Art. It appears that Rutgers no longer requires or recommends the SAT Essay or ACT Writing (according to their website).

    Cheers. Dan

  • John B says:

    Hi, I scored 36 on ACT but only 8 on ACT writing, will the writing score hurt my application to top colleges, like IVYs? do you recommend me to retake the test?

    • Art Sawyer says:

      Congratulations on your 36. Do not repeat the exam because of your Writing score. Your essay score will not hurt your application.

  • Kate says:

    Hi Art,

    Where do you see that Stanford “strongly recommends” the writing? I have their website up and specifically it says “Required testing:
    ACT or SAT (Writing/Essay not required)

    I do not see any other verbiage on their website using the words that you do. Could you please let me know as soon as you can? Thank you

    • Art Sawyer says:

      Thank you for drawing our attention to Stanford’s change. We’ve updated our list to reflect that the essay is now completely optional at Stanford.

  • Aimee says:

    Looks like essay scores are now optional at Binghamton, based upon their web site: https://www.binghamton.edu/admissions/info/test-policy.html

    Also, Georgia Tech now says they don’t consider the writing section for either test: https://admission.gatech.edu/first-year/standardized-tests

  • Jessica says:

    If I have a 9 in the ACT essay, what does that score equals to SAT writing? Thank you!

    • Art Sawyer says:

      They are so different that they can’t really be compared. A 9 is a good score. Only about 7% of students score higher. Also, we know that the 25th-75th percentiles scores at the most competitive colleges are 8-10, so your essay score should not be a concern.

  • Alex says:

    Mr. Sawyer,
    can I superscore a reading and writing score from an SAT W/O ESSAY with a math score from an SAT WITH ESSAY and vice versa?

  • Morgan says:

    Mr. Sawyer,
    I took the ACT with writing and got a 32 and 8. I then took the ACT again without writing and got a 34. I want to apply to Dartmouth (which requires the writing). Should I take the entire ACT with writing again, or does the essay from my initial test (32) carry over to my 34 test.

    • Art Sawyer says:

      I’m fairly certain that Dartmouth does not require Writing. In fact, they no longer even talk of recommending it. So the good news is that you don’t need to worry about your 32 or your essay.

  • Hayden says:

    Hello Mr. Sawyer!
    I am currently a Junior and recently took the ACT w/ Writing and received a 29 Composite Score and a 9 on my Essay.
    My Math and Science scores brought down my composite so I will be re-taking the test to raise those to try to get into the 30’s.
    I feel confident about my writing score and don’t see the need to take it again.
    Does that mean that I can just retake the ACT w/o Writing to focus on raising my composite?
    In other words, will colleges consider my essay score from my older test and “superscore” my new composite scores or do I have to retake the entire test with the essay again?
    Let me know. Thank you!

    • Art Sawyer says:

      Among schools that superscore the ACT, I don’t know of any that will not superscore across w/ and w/o Writing test dates. The University of California system does not superscore but requires that Writing be taken for scores to be considered. The UCs are the only colleges I know of with this policy. Good luck!

  • Ro says:

    My daughter scored a 34 on her first ACT and we just received her writing scores. She did very well; 12,10,12 and 12, for an average of 11.5. I have just come to realize that most of the schools no longer require the writing portion. I’m just wondering why she wasted her time taking the writing portion. I don’t know if she will take the ACT again. Will the schools where writing is optional even care that she did well in writing?

    • Art Sawyer says:

      As much as I rail against the essay, I still recommend that students take it — at least once. Your daughter didn’t waste her time, she created some options. Policies on viewing essay results are all over the place at essay optional schools. Many admission officers would view it as a “plus factor.” It’s wonderful that your daughter did so well.

  • George says:

    Hi Art,

    My daughter is a rising junior. She just took ACT this past June the first time. Her composite score is 35. However , the writing is only 8. Do you think she should retake the ACT just to improve the writing part? Reading your other comments sounded like she may not need to do that but would like to confirm. My daughter’s targets are the Ivy’s. She does have 4.0 unweighted GPA so far, SAT Math II 790, SAT Bio 770.

    Thanks much.. George

  • Lucy says:

    Mr. Sawyer,

    I got a 7,6,7 on my SAT essay, and plan to retake the sats this summer. I got a 5 on my AP Lang exam and was wondering if that was enough to prove my writing ability to colleges? Or should I retake the essay this summer?

  • William says:

    Hi, Mr. Sawyer,

    I scored 1560 on SAT with the essay (6/4/7). Should I retake it to improve the essay score, if I want to apply the top colleges, like Princeton?

    Thank you,

  • Beth says:

    Mr. Sawyer,

    Thanks for all the great information.
    My junior son just got back his ACT score of a 35 but an essay score of 7. His first ACT in June was a 31 with an essay score of 8. Most of the schools he will apply to are test optional or not required. Will the 7 hurt his chances at highly selective schools and do you think he should send both ACTs to show the better writing score of 8?
    4.3 GPA W/3.92 UW, World history AP 5/subject test 800, Bio E/M subject test 730
    5APs this year


    • Art Sawyer says:

      The 7 will not hurt his chances. Submit only the 35. The difference between a 35 and a 31 is significant. The difference between a 7 and 8 is immaterial.

      • Beth says:

        Mr. Sawyer – thanks so much for your opinion! Last question: the UC’s – more specifically UCSD is a target for him. Do you have any idea how closely the UC’s look at the writing score. I know that they use the ELA for English placement but can’t find much about how much they look specifically at the writing score since they are one of the only schools (all UC’s) that still require writing (his ELA is slightly above 50% for last year’s admitted students with the writing score of 7).
        Thanks again,

        • Art Sawyer says:

          There is a very strong chance that the UCs will have dropped the essay by next year. It already plays a minimal role in admission. Given the strength of your son’s other scores — especially for UCSD — I would not worry about his 7.

  • Mike G. says:

    Hi Art:

    My son took the ACT without writing as a junior and received a 34 composite (32 STEM score). He retook it as a senior with writing and also received a 34 composite (33 STEM), but only received an 8 on the writing portion. The only other difference between the 2 scores is that he got a 36 Reading/35 Science on the first ACT, and 35 Reading/36 Science on the second. For competitive schools that don’t require (or recommend) the writing portion, would you recommend that he submit his first score without the writing, or the second? I’m thinking the first is probably a better choice for him (especially for liberal arts colleges/universities), but wanted to get your thoughts.

    Thank you,

    Mike G.

    • Art Sawyer says:

      The 8 score is not that out of the norm, so I wouldn’t give it much weight in the decision. About 2/3 of colleges superscore the ACT, so I would send both scores in those cases (that way he has a 36 Reading / 36 Science). It’s less important at schools that do not superscore, but I would still be comfortable submitting both scores.

  • Swapna says:

    My son is a junior and he took ACT for the first time. He received a 35 Composite and 8 on essay. He feels 8 is not good enough to apply to UCs. He wants to retake in January 2020. What do you recommend?

    • Art Sawyer says:

      8 falls within the 25th-75th range of enrolled students at even Berkeley and UCLA. More important, the UCs are likely to drop the essay requirement this year. That said, I don’t like to stand in the way of students motivated to retest. If he has the time and the desire, he could take the ACT again on Feb 8. He shouldn’t count on his Writing score making a difference.

  • Karina says:

    Hi Mr. Sawyer,

    I’m a junior in high school and I just took the ACT without writing and received a 31. I would like to take the ACT again to eventually superscore. However, my top school is Duke which is one of the few that recommend taking the ACT with writing. Should I take the ACT with writing the next time I take the test? And if I do take it with the writing, can I superscore the two composite scores together even though one is with writing and one is without? Thanks

    • Art Sawyer says:

      I don’t know of any superscoring school that will not superscore across ACT and ACT with Writing. As you may have read, the essay is becoming less important every year — even at Duke. If you feel that you would do well or would like to keep all of your options open, then I would encourage you to spend the extra time to take Writing. Either way, it will not hurt your ability to superscore.