Avalon College Connector

Colleges That Require The Essay Portion of ACT or SAT for Admission


Founded in 2017 by industry icon Neil Chyten, NC Global Education is one of the most revolutionary tutoring and test prep companies in the nation. Mr. Chyten has been a tutor and college and private school admission onsultant for 35 years. He has written or co-written 12 books on test preparation, college admissions, and academic skills, and has contributed more than 175 unique strategies for test preparation excellence and academic advancement.

More than 1,000 students trained in Mr. Chyten’s test-taking methods have earned perfect test scores and been admitted to Ivy League colleges and universities, and thousands more have gone on to attend the top colleges and universities in America, Canada and the U.K.

In this article:

What is the ACT Essay?

The ACT Writing Test is a 40-minute section that comes at the end of the ACT for those who opt in. It receives a separate score of 2 to 12, which is the sum of scores received from two graders each evaluating the essay on a 1 to 6 scale. The score does not affect the other four ACT sub scores (Reading, English, Science or Math), but is calculated into a separate ELA (English Language Arts) score that colleges rarely consider.

Once heralded by colleges as a valuable data point, the SAT Essay no longer exists and the ACT Writing Test is required by only a handful of schools that very few students apply to. The only notable exception is the US Military Academy at West Point, a fact which, I suspect, will change very soon. In fact, it is much more likely that the ACT Writing Test will follow the SAT essay into extinction over the next few years.

Should You Choose to do the ACT Essay Portion?

Despite a decline in colleges that require the essay portion of the ACT for admission, NC Global Education recommends that some students should consider making the essay a part of the ACT testing plans. If done well, the ACT essay portion will give students an excellent opportunity to demonstrate their reading, analysis, and writing skills.

Is it a good strategy to opt into the ACT Writing Test?

While the answer to this question can be somewhat complicated, the simple answer is, “Yes, but only if you are an excellent writer and you are familiar with the format of the test.”

Colleges appreciate good writers, and earning a high score on the ACT Writing Test makes the case that you are at least an above average writer. Colleges also prefer students who are willing to challenge themselves. Opting in for the essay shows that you are not afraid of challenge and are willing to take chances.

Will I be looked at negatively for not doing the ACT essay section?

While opting to take the ACT writing portion of the test can help skilled writiers, a low score would obviously not be flattering even if the essay isn’t required or recommended by the school. But opting out when it is your choice to do so should never be seen by school admissions officers as a negative mark against your application.

The essay isn’t a ploy colleges and universities put in place to reveal who’s willing and daring to do it. If the essay portion is recommended by a school, but not required, then it’s not the case that you will be seen a cowering for not doing it. However, know that it’s likely that other applicants did opt to complete the writing section, and perhaps they will have an advantage over you if they did well.

But consider the rapid decline of schools requiring the test. The declining numbers suggest that colleges don’t see the writing portion of the ACT to be the insightful measure they once thought. Only a few years ago, we at NC Global posted an article in which we provided a list of colleges that required or recommended the essay portion of the ACT or SAT. Even then, the list of colleges had shrunk dramatically from what it had been even five years earlier, but in our July 2018 update, nearly two dozen schools still required the essay. Today, merely 4 years later, six schools still require it, and even then, some only require it for course placement, not admissions decisions.

Colleges that Require the ACT Writing Test

Reasons for Taking the ACT Writing Test

Is there value in taking the ACT Writing Test while it remains an option. While 99.9% of colleges do not require it, almost the same percentage of colleges will accept it if submitted. A perfect score of 12, or even a good score of 10 or 11, can provide some evidence of your writing, reading comprehension, and analytical reading skills. Since colleges are generally looking for reasons to accept students rather than to reject them, all positive factors, no matter how small, can make a difference.

A good or great ACT Writing Test score might have the same impact as an academic honor such as a Scholastic Writing Award, or involvement in a club or community service activity. As with these other application factors, the ACT Writing Test score is simply a check mark on the right side of your candidacy evaluation.

Reasons for Not Taking the ACT Writing Test

If excellent writing does not come naturally to you, then we suggest that you take the ACT without the Writing Test, or take the SAT. There is simply not enough upside or justifications to put in so many hours of work when the result is questionable. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to cancel or omit just the ACT Writing portion of the ACT if you do not do well; instead, you would be required to delete (or not report) the entire ACT test.

How to Prepare for the SAT or ACT?

NC Global ACT and SAT tutoring programs are customized for each individual student, taking into account his or her unique skills, needs, goals, and learning styles. Skill building exercises and strategies are designed by Neil Chyten to strengthen students’ weaknesses and give them the highest odds of answering each and every question correctly, leading to extraordinary results.

Tutoring takes place live (in some areas) or in an online virtual classroom where instructors present lessons and students ask questions just as they would in an in-person classroom.

NC Global also offers small group classes and workshops periodically, such as our SAT Essay Excellence Program, that can help students prepare for what lies ahead.

Find out which colleges require the essay portion of the SAT or ACT for admission and how you can use that to your advantage from the experts at NC Global Education. We offer unique and extremely effective strategies that are not taught anywhere else. Call us today at 800-469-1028 (Chinese line 833-888-6232) to learn more about our services.