The ACT or SAT as a Graduation Requirement: Your 2023 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.

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 2023.

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

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:

You should bear in mind that these testing requirements are always subject to change–especially now that the SAT is transitioning to a fully digital format for 2024 onwards.

So, if you’re taking the SAT through your school as a graduation requirement, what should you do? While it may be tempting not to take it too seriously, you should make sure you prepare extensively for it! Even if you’re not worried about meeting the state-set benchmark for graduation, you should aim for a top score for college admissions.

Often, schools don’t do a great job of preparing students for what will be tested on the SAT and how it’ll be tested. That’s even more true now that there’s a format change! If you’re serious about a top score, a good place to start would be our overall guide to the new digital SAT.

Once you’re ready to start actually studying, we recommend working with a dedicated, personal SAT tutor. Ours have years of experience raising students’ SAT scores: no matter how well you’re scoring on your own, a tutor can help you lock in an even higher SAT score.

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:

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, both of which you can download and take for free. When it comes to using that diagnostic to meaningfully improve your scores and set up an SAT prep plan, there’s no substitute for a good test prep tutor. Our tutors range from students at Ivy League universities to perfect scorers who’ve been tutoring for decades–contact us, and we’ll find the right one for you.

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.