Do I have to take the ACT to get into college?

Call it one of the many ways the world pivoted due to the pandemic. Standardized test scores from the SAT or ACT were once a requirement for admission to nearly all colleges and universities. However, many schools adopted test-optional policies in 2020. So depending on where you are applying, you may not HAVE to take the ACT to get into college. But you may want to anyways.

Purpose of the ACT and SAT

Standardized tests attempt to measure college readiness, providing an objective way for colleges to compare students from high schools that may vary in academic rigor. Critics claim that standardized tests are skewed to benefit families who can afford tutoring programs. Some also claim that these tests handicap students with test anxiety or who come from underrepresented populations or rural communities.

If you are looking at a college that requires test scores, then yes, you must take the ACT or SAT to get into college. Without a test score, your application is incomplete and you will not even be considered for admission. However, contact your admissions counselor for updates as policies may change based on current realities due to COVID.

Test-flexible or test-optional admissions

For admission to a test-flexible or test-optional college, you may not have to take the ACT or SAT.


Only certain applicants, such as those with a lower GPA, or ones looking to enter majors such as engineering or nursing, must submit test scores. However, their score will not be weighed as heavily as is their recommendation letters, personal essay, class rank, extracurricular activities, GPA, etc.


Students have a choice whether to submit ACT or SAT scores with an application to a test-optional school. Most test-optional schools will consider scores if submitted, but focus more on other factors to determine if you are ready for college academics.

So, why should I take the ACT or SAT?

Standardized test scores are used for more than just admission decisions.

Financial aid:

Many merit-based scholarships consider ACT or SAT scores in awarding funds, or for eligibility to compete for the scholarship.

Collegiate athletics:

Both the NAIA and NCAA DI and DII have established academic standards for student-athletes, including an ACT or SAT score. Student-athletes beginning in fall 2021 are not required to submit ACT scores. This change is temporary. In NCAA DIII, each individual college or university determines student-athlete admission requirements.

Enhance your application:  

Submitting a high ACT score will help you stand out if your GPA doesn’t reflect your true ability or if you have few extracurricular activities to report.

Contact your guidance counselor for area ACT or SAT testing dates.

At Bluffton

A text-flexible college, Bluffton University considers honor roll students with a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher for admission without an ACT or SAT score. However, a score is required for select academic scholarships or to participate in the Presidential Scholarship Competition. Students with a high school GPA under 3.0 and homeschooled students are required to submit ACT or SAT scores.  Steps to apply >