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Complete List: Which Colleges Require ACT Writing? 500+ Schools

Posted by Mary Ann Barge | May 28, 2015 12:56:00 PM

ACT General Info, ACT Writing



You’ve just signed up for the ACT. But did you know that there is an optional writing test for the ACT? Do you know if your dream schools want to see it?

Read this to find out if the Writing ACT is worth your time and money. Then find out how you're going to ace the ACT Writing section.


What Is the ACT Writing test?

The ACT Writing test is an optional essay test you can take after the other sections of the ACT. It costs an additional $17.00 and 40 minutes of your time. It is available to take after the ACT on all 6 national testing dates in the USA. Keep in mind when deciding to take it or not that you may NOT just take the ACT Writing test on its own - you can only take it while suitably exhausted after taking all the other sections of the ACT!

The writing test is meant to measure the writing skills that you should have learned in your English classes in high school. It also claims to be a measure of how you might do in entry-level composition classes in college.

So, what exactly is the test like? First, you will be given a prompt that tells you about an issue. You will also be presented with three possible points of view on said topic, and will be asked to write an essay about your point of view. You can either borrow and elaborate upon one of the ones that are given, or offer up a fourth viewpoint. Sound tough? See this for some top ACT essay strategies.

Your essay will be graded by two real, live human readers who will give your essay a grade between a low of 1 and a high of 6 for a score of 12 in each of four domains and a total score of 36 based on your ability to write a logical, focused, and organized essay. If these scores differ by more than one point, a third reader will also look it over. (Want a perfect score? See this!)

Your ACT Writing score is not part of your composite score, which will still consist only of your English, Math, Reading, and Science subscores. Instead, your essay subscore will be added to your English and Reading scores and averaged for a combined English/Language Arts score. For a full breakdown on how the ACT is graded see this.


Why Do Schools Require ACT Writing?

You may be surprised to learn that not all schools require the ACT Writing test! But those that do think they have a pretty good reason. These schools think that your essay score, combined with your English and Reading ACT scores, can help them understand your grasp of English and your ability to produce a sample of writing under pressure.

This is quite a different skill to what they see when you submit your personal statement and essays in your application. They are assuming that those have been proofread by 50 of your closest friends and family members, and that they have been heavily edited and reviewed for hours on end. So while your personal statement is more like a heavily photoshopped selfie in flattering lighting, ACT Writing is like a candid snapshot of your writing abilities


Specifically, these schools wants to get a better idea about your ability to defend a point of view and your reasoning skills.  Can you write logically and coherently? Can you use proper sentence structure without Word telling you what you have done wrong? The Writing Test is your chance to prove all those skills.

And, apart from your application, the combined English/Language Arts ACT score has another use for many schools. They will actually use your score on this test to help place you into different levels of English classes - so it can potentially save you the trouble of taking a placement test once you arrive at college in the fall!


What Kind of Colleges Require ACT Writing?

The answers may surprise you — read on to learn more about which schools require the Writing section of the ACT.


Not All Top Schools Require It!

Top schools that do NOT require the ACT Writing test include Columbia, Penn, Cornell, and Brown (though Brown strongly recommends it).

However, other elite schools like Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, CalTech, and Dartmouth all require it. Top public colleges like UC's, University of Michigan, and University of Texas require it as well. So if you are aiming high, you may want to take this part of the test!


body_georgetown.jpgThe fine people of Georgetown do NOT care about ACT Writing.


Do Top Journalism, Humanities, and English Programs Require It?

Some do, but there are a few notable exceptions. Pepperdine and George Washington University, which are known as great journalism schools, do not require it.

Georgetown and the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts offer great English degrees and do not require the ACT with Writing.

Hamilton College in New York, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Iowa, and Colorado College all have great writing programs and do NOT require the Writing ACT.

Several well-known, smaller liberal arts colleges do NOT require the ACT with Writing, including Amherst, Bowdoin, Pomona, Haverford, and Davidson College. And the University of Chicago is great all around for humanities, and they do NOT require it.


Do top technical/math/science schools require it?


Despite what you might expect, a number of the top tech/math/science schools DO require the ACT Writing — including CalTech, University of Michigan, and Georgia Tech. 



Yes, tech schools also care about your writing ability.


Why Should You Care?

Below we have broken down by state and territory every college that either requires or recommends the ACT Plus Writing. 

Keeping in mind that although you don't HAVE to take the ACT with Writing unless you want to apply to a college on the list below, you still have the option to.

You can usually submit the Writing test to colleges, even if they do not require it. By doing so, you allow them to consider your essay along with the rest of your appliction. Some will choose to treat ACT Writing as equally important to the other sections, while others will give it less weight. 

But the bottom line is, a strong writing score will almost always help you out. If you opt to take the test and you score well on it, it could be a great way to enhance your application and give you an edge!

Fortunately, this is a real possibiliy because just like every other part of the ACT, the essay can be taught so that you can excel on it. So if you are thinking about taking the ACT Plus Writing, either because you have to or if you just want that extra bright point in your application, it is definitely worth your time to study and practice. See this guide for step-by-step instructions on how to master the ACT essay.

Another point: you may change your mind about where you want to apply, and that is another reason it's a good idea to take the ACT Plus Writing. If your plans change, you don't want to have to re-take the whole test just because you didn't think ahead!


Full List of Colleges that Require ACT Writing


Where are your dream schools on the list?

This list of 4-year universities is broken down by state. The first colleges in each section are those that require the Writing ACT, followed by those that recommend it. "Recommend" means that the college does not require it, but that scoring well will improve the strength of your application and help you reach equal footing with other applicants who do take it.

To find your favorite schools, either scroll down to the state in which they're located, or use Ctrl+F to type in the school name to see if it shows up.

Keep in mind that school requirements frequently change (especially with the recent rise in test-optional admissions), so it's always a good idea to check with individual universities before you apply.




  • Alabama A&M University
  • Alabama State University
  • Auburn University
  • Miles College
  • Oakwood University
  • Spring Hill College
  • Troy University




  • Alaska Pacific University
  • University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • University of Alaska Southeast




  • Grand Canyon University
  • University of Arizona



Grand Canyon University, Arizona




  • John Brown University




  • California Institute of Technology
  • Chapman University
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Soka University of America
  • Stanford University
  • UC Berkeley
  • UC Davis
  • UC Irvine
  • UC Los Angeles
  • UC Merced
  • UC Riverside
  • UC San Diego
  • UC Santa Barbara
  • UC Santa Cruz
  • University of San Diego
  • Westmont College
  • Whittier College



University of California at Berkeley



  • California Polytechnic St University - San Luis Obispo
  • Cogswell Polytechnical College
  • Columbia College Hollywood
  • Dominican University of California
  • Fresno Pacific University
  • Holy Names University
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Mills College
  • New School of Architecture & Design
  • Notre Dame de Namur University
  • Oak Valley College
  • Occidental College
  • Pepperdine University
  • Point Loma Nazarene University
  • Pomona College
  • San Diego Christian College
  • San Francisco Art Institute
  • Simpson University
  • St. Katherine College
  • Thomas Aquinas College
  • University of Northern California
  • University of Redlands
  • University of San Francisco
  • Vanguard University of Southern California
  • William Jessup University



Pepperdine University wins for most dramatic location




  • Art Institute of Colorado
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design




  • Yale University



  • Central Connecticut State University
  • Lincoln College of New England
  • Post University
  • University of Bridgeport




  • Delaware College of Art and Design
  • University of Delaware




  • Trinity University
  • University of the District of Columbia



American University doesn't require the ACT Writing




  • Florida A&M University
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Florida Gulf Coast University
  • Florida International University
  • Trinity Baptist College



  • Ave Maria University
  • Bethune-Cookman University
  • College of Central Florida
  • Emmaus Baptist College
  • Florida College
  • Hobe Sound Bible College
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Johnson University Florida
  • Naaleh College
  • Palm Beach Atlantic University
  • Rollins College
  • Saint Leo University
  • Trinity College of Florida
  • Trinity International University
  • University of Tampa
  • Webber International University




  • Berry College
  • Emory University
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Georgia Southern University
  • Georgia State University
  • Life University
  • Morris Brown College
  • Oxford College of Emory University



  • Armstrong State University
  • Covenant College
  • Emmanuel College
  • Fort Valley State University
  • Morehouse College
  • Oglethorpe University
  • Toccoa Falls College
  • University of West Georgia



Emory University




  • University of Hawaii at Manoa



  • Hawaii Pacific University




  • Boise Bible College




  • Morthland College
  • Principia College
  • St Joseph College Seminary



  • Benedictine University
  • Chamberlain College of Nursing
  • Christian Life College
  • Columbia College Chicago
  • DanEL Christian College
  • East-West University
  • Eastern Illinois University
  • Greenville College
  • Illinois College
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Illinois State University
  • Lake Forest College
  • Lincoln Christian University
  • Methodist College of Nursing
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Olivet Nazarene University
  • Robert Morris University
  • University of Illinois - Chicago
  • VanderCook College of Music



View of the Loop from University of Illinois Chicago campus




  • Butler University
  • Fairhaven College
  • Hanover College
  • Manchester College
  • Marian University - IN
  • University of Evansville



  • American Conservatory of Music
  • Anderson University
  • Art Institute of Indianapolis
  • Ball State University
  • Crossroads Bible College
  • Franklin College
  • Holy Cross College
  • Huntington University
  • Indiana State University
  • Indiana University Northwest
  • Indiana University South Bend
  • Indiana University Southeast
  • Indiana University - Purdue University at Columbus
  • Indiana Wesleyan University
  • Purdue University
  • Purdue University - North Central
  • Union Bible College
  • University of Indianapolis
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Southern Indiana
  • Valparaiso University
  • Wabash College


body_notredame.jpg University of Notre Dame 




  • Ashford University
  • Diving Word College
  • Faith Baptist Bible College
  • Grand View University
  • Iowa Wesleyan College
  • Morningside College




  • Saint Mary’s College - Kansas



  • Barclay College
  • Haskell Indian Nations University
  • Kansas City College and Bible School
  • McPherson College
  • Sterling College
  • University of Saint Mary




  • Louisville Bible College



  • Campellsville University
  • Centre College
  • Northern Kentucky University




  • Loyola University New Orleans



  • Louisiana State University A&M - Baton Rouge
  • Our Lady of the Lake College
  • Tulane University
  • World Evangelism Bible College
  • Xavier University



Caution: apparently it even rains indoors at Tulane.




  • Husson University
  • Maine Maritime Academy
  • Unity College
  • University of Maine at Fort Kent
  • University of Maine
  • University of New England
  • University of Southern Maine




  • Washington Adventist University



  • Antietam Bible College
  • Maryland Institute College of Art




  • Atlantic Union College
  • Bentley University
  • Eastern Nazarene College
  • Gordon College - MA
  • Harvard College
  • Olin College of Engineering
  • Springfield College - MA





  • Amherst College
  • Bard College at Simon’s Rock
  • Bay Path University
  • Bay State College
  • Becker College
  • Bridgewater State University
  • Elms College
  • Endicott College
  • Lesley University
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacology and Health Sciences
  • Massachusetts College of Art & Design
  • Mount Ida College
  • Northpoint Bible College
  • Regis College
  • Simmons College
  • Wentworth Institute of Technology




  • College for Creative Studies
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Michigan - Ann Arbor





  • Albion College
  • Andrews University
  • Aquinas College
  • Baker College Online
  • Baker College at Allen Park
  • Central Michigan University
  • Cleary University
  • Compass College of Cinematic Ars
  • Concordia University - Ann Arbor
  • Cornerstone University
  • Grace Baptist College
  • Grace Bible College
  • Grand Valley State University
  • Great Lakes Christian College
  • Madonna University
  • Marygrove College
  • Sacred Heart Major Seminary
  • Spring Arbor University
  • University of Michigan - Dearborn
  • University of Michigan - Flint




  • Carleton College
  • Martin Luther College



  • University of Minnestora - Morris
  • University of Minnesota - Rochester
  • University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
  • Art Institutes International Minnesota
  • Bethany Lutheran College
  • College of Saint Benedict
  • Concordia College - Moorhead
  • Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Hamline University
  • McNally Smith College of Music
  • Saint John’s University
  • St Olaf College
  • University of Northwestern - St Paul




  • Alcorn State University




  • Evangel University
  • Urshan College



  • Drury University
  • Hickey College
  • Missouri Baptist University
  • St Louis Christian College
  • Webster University
  • William Jewell College
  • William Woods University




  • University of Montana Western



  • Carroll College
  • Montana State University
  • Montana Tech of the University of Montana
  • University of Great Falls
  • University of Montana
  • Yellowstone Christian College



University of Montana Western wins second most dramatic campus location




  • Saint Gregory the Great Seminary
  • Summit Christian College
  • Union College
  • York College




  • Art Institute of Las Vegas
  • Western Nevada Community College




  • Dartmouth College
  • University of New Hampshire



  • Daniel Webster College
  • Franklin Pierce University
  • Keene State College
  • Northeast Catholic College
  • Plymouth State University
  • Saint Anselm College




  • Princeton University



  • Caldwell College
  • Centenary College
  • Georgian Court University
  • Rider University
  • Rutgers-State University of New Jersey






  • University of New Mexico
  • University of the Southwest




  • Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • CUNY-John Jay Coll of Criminal Justice
  • Concordia College
  • Five Towns College
  • Fordham University
  • LIM College
  • List College - Jewish Theological Seminary
  • Pratt Institute
  • State University of New York College at Old Westbury
  • State University of New York Maritime College
  • US Military Academy
  • University at Albany- SUNY
  • University at Buffalo - SUNY



  • Canisius College
  • College of Mount Saint Vincent
  • College of New Rochelle
  • Cooper Union
  • Culinary Institute of America
  • Daemen College
  • Dominican College
  • Farmingdale State College
  • Globe Institute of Technology
  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Iona College
  • Le Moyne College
  • Manhattanville College
  • Mercy College
  • Molloy College
  • Morrisville State College
  • Parsons The New School for Design
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • St John’s University
  • State University of NY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • State University of NY College at Buffalo
  • Touro College
  • Utica College
  • Webb Institute of Naval Architecture
  • Wells College




  • Duke University
  • Elizabeth City State University
  • Fayetteville State University
  • North Carolina Central University
  • Queens University of Charlotte



This is Duke's "chapel."



  • Barber-Scotia College
  • Bennett College
  • Brevard University
  • Campbell University
  • Chowan University
  • Grace Baptist Bible College
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • Livingstone College
  • Mars Hill University
  • North Carolina Wesleyan College
  • Salem College
  • St Andrews University
  • University of North Carolina at Pembroke




  • Dickinson State University
  • Mayville State University
  • Trinity Bible College




  • God’s Bible School and College
  • Lake Erie College
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Toledo



  • Allegheny Wesleyan College
  • Art Academy of Cincinnati
  • Art Institute of Ohio
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Cedarville University
  • Central State University
  • Chamberlain College of Nursing
  • Cleveland Institute of Music
  • College of Wooster
  • Heidelberg University
  • John Carroll University
  • Kent State University - Salem
  • Kent State University - Stark
  • Kent State University - Trumbull
  • Kettering College of Medical Arts
  • Miama University
  • Mount St Joseph University
  • Ohio University - Athens
  • Ohio Wesleyan University
  • South University - Cleveland
  • Tiffin University
  • University of Findlay
  • University of Rio Grande
  • Urbana University
  • Ursuline College
  • Walsh University
  • Wilberforce University
  • Youngstown State University




  • Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College
  • Oklahoma Wesleyan University
  • Saint Gregory’s University
  • Spartan School of Aeronautics



I wonder if you can still send this in?




  • Portland State University



  • Northwest Christian University
  • Oregon College of Art & Craft
  • University of Oregon




  • Delaware Valley College
  • University of the Sciences in Philadelphia



  • Allegheny College
  • Bryn Athyn College
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Cheyney University of Pennsylvania
  • Elizabethtown College
  • Gettysburg College
  • Gwynedd Mercy University
  • Haverford College
  • Keystone College
  • Lancaster Bible College
  • Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania
  • Lycoming College
  • Messiah College
  • Millersville University of Pennsylvania
  • Saint Francis University
  • Seton Hill University
  • Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
  • Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
  • Ursinus College
  • Waynesburg University
  • West Chester University of Pennsylvania



May Day at Bryn Mawr. For real.




  • Rhode Island College
  • Rhode Island School of Design



  • Brown University
  • Johnson & Wales University




  • Wofford College



  • American College of the Building Arts
  • Charleston Southern University
  • Coastal Carolina University
  • Furman University
  • Lander University
  • Newberry College
  • North Greenville University
  • South Carolina State University
  • Southern Methodist College
  • University of South Carolina - Aiken
  • Voorhees College




  • Black Hills State University
  • National American University




  • Bethel University
  • Bryan College
  • Carson-Newman University
  • Cumberland University
  • Fisk University
  • Lincoln Meorial University
  • Lipscomb University
  • Martin Methodist College
  • Maryville College
  • Memphis College of Art
  • Mid-South Christian College
  • O’More College of Design
  • Tennessee State University
  • Union University
  • University of the South




  • Baylor University
  • Dallas Baptist University
  • Hardin-Simmons University
  • Midwestern State University
  • Paul Quinn College
  • Southwest School of Art
  • Southwestern Assemblies of God University
  • St. Edward’s University
  • Stephen F Austin State University
  • Tarleton State University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas State University
  • University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
  • University of St. Thomas
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • University of Texas at Brownsville
  • University of Texas at Dallas
  • University of Texas at San Antonio






  • Abilene Christian University
  • Arlington Baptist College
  • Art Institute of Houston
  • Austin College
  • Dallas Christian College
  • Houston Baptist University
  • Huston-Tillotson University
  • Jarvis Christian College
  • McMurry University
  • Messenger College
  • Mexican American Catholic College
  • North American College
  • Schreiner University
  • Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi
  • Texas Independent Baptist School
  • Texas Southern University
  • University of Houston - Main Campus
  • University of Houston - Victoria
  • University of Incarnate Word
  • University of North Texas
  • University of Texas at Tyler




  • Brigham Young University
  • George Wythe University
  • Westminster College




  • Saint Michael’s College



  • College of Saint Joseph
  • Johnson State College
  • Middlebury College
  • Norwich University
  • Vermont Technical College




  • Emory and Henry College
  • Hollins University
  • Old Dominion University
  • Radford University
  • Randolph College
  • Randolph-Macon College
  • University of Mary Washington




  • Art Institute of Seattle
  • DigiPen Institute of Technology
  • Northwest University
  • Saint Martin’s University
  • Seattle Pacific University
  • Seattle University
  • University of Puget Sound
  • University of Washington
  • University of Washington Tacoma
  • University of Washington Bothell




  • Bluefield State College
  • Salem International University
  • West Virginia State University


body_westvirginiau.jpg Very dramatic, West Virginia.




  • Cardinal Stritch University
  • Carroll University
  • Marquette University
  • Saint Norbert College
  • Silver Lake College




  • Wyoming Catholic College




  • University of the Virgin Islands


What’s Next?

Now that you know whether you need to take ACT Writing, make sure you do well. Learn the prompts that ACT Writing tests, 15 strategies to improve your ACT Writing score, and how to get a 36 on the essay.

Ready to work for a killer ACT English/Language ArtsScore? Make sure to remind yourself of what’s actually tested on ACT English and on ACT Reading.

For top strategies for scoring a 36 on ACT English, check out out this article.

Don’t forget the rest of the test - here are tips for getting a perfect SAT score, by a 36 Full Scorer.


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Mary Ann Barge
About the Author

Mary Ann holds a BA in Classics and Russian from the University of Notre Dame, and an MA from University College London. She has years of tutoring experience and is also passionate about travel and learning languages.

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