The ACT or SAT as a Graduation Requirement: Your 2021 Lowdown

Is the SAT a graduation requirement for your high school? What about the ACT?

Believe it or not, some states in the U.S. do use the SAT or ACT as benchmark assessments. Some require that high school students take either test in order to graduate.

Others may simply offer these exams for free at school, without requiring students to take them for graduation.

Where does your state fall in this respect? We’ve done the research and have the most up to date list of SAT/ACT testing policies across the U.S. states for 2021.

Note: We always recommend that students consult guidance counselors for their school’s specific testing policies, because these can vary from district to district within states.

Here’s what we cover:


Where is the SAT a Graduation Requirement?

The following states require high school students to take the SAT in order to graduate:

Where is the ACT a Graduation Requirement?

The ACT is a graduation requirement in the following states:

Other State Testing Policies

There are some states that require students to take either the ACT or the SAT for graduation.

Here they are:

Some states will also accept ACT scores as alternatives to other state testing requirements or benchmark exams.

There are currently 4 states that do this:

  • Louisiana: Students must take ACT WorkKeys or the ACT
  • Mississippi: Students must pass MAAP end-of-course exams or earn score benchmarks on the ACT
  • North Dakota: Students must take the ACT or ACT WorkKeys
  • Utah: Students take Utah Aspire Plus, a custom exam that incorporates ACT Aspire material, but isn’t actually the ACT

We want to emphasize that many states offer the ACT and/or SAT to students for free but do not require students to take either exam (like South Carolina, for example).

For more information on SAT School Days or in-school ACT administrations, consult your guidance counselor.

Which Test Should You Take?

All U.S. colleges and universities accept either SAT or ACT scores from applicants. No college requires students to submit scores from both tests (although they can do so if they like).

So which test should you take? We’ve created an entire post to answer this question, which we encourage our students to read.

In the meantime, regardless of whether or not the ACT or SAT is a graduation requirement for your state, it’s important to prepare for the exam that is the right fit for you.

The ACT and SAT are similar in some ways, but they are very different in others. Your best fit test will be the one that plays to your personal strengths and ultimately gives you the higher score.

A great place to start is a diagnostic SAT practice test or ACT practice test. You can find self-proctoring instructions right here for the SAT and the ACT.


Kate_Princeton Tutoring_AuthorBio Kate

Kate is a graduate of Princeton University. Over the last decade, Kate has successfully mentored hundreds of students in all aspects of the college admissions process, including the SAT, ACT, and college application essay.