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Do You Need ACT Scores to Transfer Colleges? A Guide

Posted by Alex Heimbach | Sep 12, 2015 12:00:00 PM

ACT General Info, College Admissions

 

One of the most complicated parts of transferring colleges is determining what the requirements are, especially when it comes to standardized tests. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to the question of whether you need to take the ACT as a transfer student, but this guide will walk you through how different schools policies vary and explain how much SAT and ACT scores count when applying as a transfer.

 

Do You Need ACT Scores to Apply to College as a Transfer Student?

The short answer is that it varies. What’s required of transfer applicants differs depending on the school you’re interested in and how many credits you’ve completed so far. Generally speaking, the smaller and more selective the school and the fewer credits you’ve completed, the more likely it is that you’ll need to submit test scores.

Most schools will also waive standardized testing requirements if you’ve been out of high school for more than five years or if taking the ACT represents an undue financial burden.

To give you a sense of the range of policies, the following chart outlines the test score policies for a handful of schools. The far right column gives the number of credit hours (in semesters) above which any testing requirement is waived, and any other specific guidelines.

 

School

Requires ACTs

Exceptions/Notes

USC

Yes

More than 30 credit hours

UT Austin

No

 

CU Boulder

Yes

More than 24 credit hours

University of Illinois

Yes

More than 30 credit hours (but test scores are still recommended)

Harvard

Yes

None

University of California

No

 

Dartmouth

Yes

None

Middlebury

Yes

Must send original high school scores

Georgetown

Yes

At least 5 years out of high school

University of Washington

Yes

More than 40 transferable credits

 

As you can see, schools' policies vary quite a bit, so your best bet is to look up each school’s rules about whether transfer applicants need to submit standardized test scores. Figuring out how exactly to find that information can be a bit tricky, so here are some places to start:

  • Look at the section of the website for transfer applicants. There might be a specific page about standardized scores; otherwise, try the application checklist or the FAQ page.

  • Another approach is to search for “[your school] transfer ACT scores.” You may have to try a couple of the links before you find the information you need, however.

  • If you're really having trouble, just call the admission office and ask! They'll be able to answer any questions you have about the transfer process.

 

How Important Are ACT Scores As a Transfer Student?

The other big question most students have about standardized tests is whether their scores count as much for transfer admissions as the do for freshmen ones. Happily, test scores generally don't matter as much when you apply as a upperclassman transfer.

ACT and SAT scores are used to predict college success. Since transfer students have proof of whether they can succeed in college in the form of their college transcripts, schools usually count SATs and ACTs less heavily than they do for freshman applicants. "If a student is transferring after one semester in college or a year, schools usually want the SAT [or ACT] and high school GPA, but the further away from high school, the less schools rely on them," college counselor Deborah Shames told US News.

Again, though, the answer to this question is somewhat dependent on which schools you’re applying to — more competitive schools care more about test scores than less competitive ones.

Meanwhile, if you’re transferring from community college, your school may have a guaranteed admission agreement with the local state university. The majority of these programs don’t require test scores, but some do.

 

Further Reading

If you have more questions about transferring colleges, read our complete guide to the transfer process.

Thinking about transferring, but not sure where you want to go? Use these college search sites to find the school that's right for you.

Or maybe you need help with another part of the application, like writing about extracurriculars or asking for recommendation letters.

 

Disappointed with your ACT scores? Want to improve your ACT score by 4+ points? Download our free guide to the top 5 strategies you need in your prep to improve your ACT score dramatically.

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Alex Heimbach
About the Author

Alex is an experienced tutor and writer. Over the past five years, she has worked with almost a hundred students and written about pop culture for a wide range of publications. She graduated with honors from University of Chicago, receiving a BA in English and Anthropology, and then went on to earn an MA at NYU in Cultural Reporting and Criticism. In high school, she was a National Merit Scholar, took 12 AP tests and scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and ACT.



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