fbpx Skip to main content

student taking the ACT

What States Require the ACT?

A number of states and districts either require that every junior take the test or offer it as a free option for students who wish to take it. Currently, 12 states require all juniors to take the ACT.

There are currently 7 states that require all high school juniors to take the ACT with the optional writing section:

  • Alabama
  • Hawaii
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Wisconsin

There are 5 additional states that require all students to take the ACT without the optional writing section:

  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

Several other states offer the ACT as a free option to students in at least some districts. In Colorado, all high schools in Cherry Creek School District (Cherry Creek High School, Grandview High School, Cherry Creek Elevation, Cherokee Trail High School, Eaglecrest High School, Endeavor Academy, Overland High School, Smoky Hill High School) offer an optional free ACT in February.

How did this policy come about?

In 2001, when states were beginning to implement statewide assessment programs for high school students, some states opted to contract with either ACT or College Board to provide the ACT or SAT instead of developing their own statewide assessment. This also allowed for students to take a college admissions test for free, opening up the potential for applying to college for some students who may otherwise have not applied. For the 2019-2020 school year, 20 states have contracts with ACT to provide this opportunity to at least some of their high school juniors in public schools.

What are the Benefits of Statewide ACT Testing?

The ACT is the same whether you take it through your school or on one of the regular test dates. While some people believe that the curve is easier on state-mandated test days because more low-scoring students take the test, this is simply not true. The curve is based on several years of data, not a single test date. However, if your district offers or requires the ACT, they may also provide additional resources for your test preparation.

First, the state-administered ACT test dates are free to students and often allow you to send up to four score reports to colleges for free. If the cost of taking the ACT is a financial burden for you or your family, this opportunity is a valuable one.

Second, because the ACT serves as an assessment for schools and teachers, districts that require the ACT often provide some in-class preparation for the test. This free test preparation can help you better understand the types of questions asked on the ACT. However, remember that high school teachers often are not test prep experts. If a teacher tells you something that contradicts what your test prep instructor has said, make sure you double check it.

Lastly, even if the school does not provide in-class test preparation help, there may be access to free test prep books or after school resources through your school district. Check with a counselor or teacher at your school to see if these resources are available to you.

What’s the Best Testing Plan for My Student?

Decisions about which version of the test to take and when to take them are highly individualized depending on the student. For help determining the best course of action for your student, call Mindfish at 720-204-1041, and we would be happy to offer recommendations tailored to your student’s situation and goals.