Do Community Colleges Require The SAT or ACT?

With the escalating expense of higher education, many prospective students are considering community college as a cost-effective alternative to traditional four-year universities. Certain students prefer community colleges because they better meet their educational demands. Whatever your reason for considering community college, you've undoubtedly wondered or will wonder if SAT and ACT results are required. Let's have a look.

Key Takeaways

With the escalating expense of higher education, many prospective students are considering community college as a cost-effective alternative to traditional four-year universities. Certain students prefer community colleges because they better meet their educational demands. Whatever your reason for considering community college, you've undoubtedly wondered or will wonder if SAT and ACT results are required. Let's have a look.

The majority of community colleges in the United States do not require SAT and ACT. That means you can apply as long as you have a high school diploma or a GED. Their application procedure is likewise quite straightforward.

That's fantastic news for individuals who despise standardized testing, as such assessments make admittance more competitive and less certain. However, most community colleges substitute an alternate evaluation for the SAT or ACT requirement, and some community institutions DO require SAT or ACT scores.

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So if you are puzzled and want to find out if you should or should not take SAT or ACT then this is the right guide for you. We will explain when it makes sense to take these standardized tests and when you can skip them.

Do community colleges require ACT or SAT?

The short answer is, ‘No,” community colleges do not require it. However, while they are not required, ACT or SAT scores are used by community colleges to assist in deciding the level of difficulty of classes that students can take. 

Community colleges, unlike universities, have a 100% acceptance rate and offer coursework for students of all ability levels. 

Do community colleges accept everyone?

Most community colleges operate on an open enrollment basis, meaning there are no competitive admissions standards, as most formal colleges and universities do.

Related: Do Community Colleges Really Accept Everyone Who Applies?

If a student does not have an ACT or SAT score, they will be required to take a placement test to establish their educational skill level. Such colleges use placement tests to measure your abilities in order to place you in relevant courses.

Most community colleges, according to the College Board, require placement tests such as the ACCUPLACER, ACT's COMPASS, state-specific examinations (such as Florida's CLAST), or tests created by the college. 

These assessments evaluate your skills in fundamental topics like reading, writing, and math. You are put in remedial, normal, or advanced classes based on your scores. However, your exam scores normally do not disqualify you from admission, and test prep materials are generally inexpensive and easy to come by.

Additionally, standardized tests are more demanding than placement tests. For starters, they are simpler to comprehend. The majority of the questions can be researched using textbooks and practice questions. 

The majority of the questions in a placement test will resemble those that would be asked in class. Standardized exam questions, on the other hand, are rarely discussed or taught in class.


These terms and conditions may not apply to all institutions or students so please do check with your community college to be sure.

Even if your college does not require SAT or ACT scores for general admission, specific programs may. For example:

  • Nursing, 
  • Allied health,
  • Law enforcement,
  • Engineering,
  • Computer technology

The above courses are just a few of the disciplines that may require SAT or ACT. These are highly sought-after majors at many universities, and they may necessitate additional skills. As a result, you may still be required to take a standardized test to be admitted to these programs.


Some community colleges, like traditional four-year colleges and universities, grant scholarships for academic success, and standardized test results (particularly the SAT and ACT) are important factors in scholarship award computations. Some institutions even mention specifically what SAT or ACT score ranges qualify students for scholarship eligibility.

Related: Do Community Colleges Have Payment Plans?

Additionally, your state or local government may give merit-based scholarships based in part on exam scores. While many state programs exclude community college students from the test score requirement, it's always a good idea to double-check. Although attending a community college saves money, you should never throw away free money!

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How to succeed at a community college without taking the ACT/SAT

As mentioned earlier, many people believe that not taking the ACT/SAT when applying for admission to a community college is a disadvantage. Let me assure you that this is not the case.

What colleges actually care about is how you utilize your high school experience. How did you perform in your classes and in extracurricular activities? Instead of stressing about failing a standardized test, concentrate on these aspects to help you stand out when you apply.

Get the best grades you can

This may sound cliche, but it's too vital not to mention. Keep in mind that colleges and universities will evaluate you depending on your performance in high school. Make the most of your time. Obtain the highest possible grades. 

Don't take high school for granted.

Submit Strong Recommendation Letters

A solid recommendation letter speaks volumes. Applicants should carefully consider who they ask. High school teachers often write letters for learners with good grades in their courses. Consider asking a teacher with strong writing skills.

Join an Honors Program

Honors programs do not require ACT/SAT results, but most do demand a 3.5 GPA or higher. One of the easiest ways to stand out when applying is to enroll in an honors program. 

This will show colleges that you were actively involved in your high school.

Related: Do Community Colleges Have Honor Societies?

Join Clubs

Clubs are not only a fun way to spend your time at the high school, but they can also help you get admissions. Most students do not participate in clubs since it is difficult along with studies. But you will stand out if you do!

Look for other ways to make your high school journey stand out

Leave a lasting impression. Colleges will invest in pupils who will improve their institutions. Colleges are looking for students who can engage with others, achieve good grades, are dedicated, and work hard, rather than just have great SAT/ACT scores. 

Strengthen your resume with some short courses

Have a poor GPA or maybe just a bad grade in a subject? Well, now you can do something about it even after completing high school. A smart thing to do is to remove your weaknesses by showing you have improved in that area or show strength in an alternate area of study.

A great way to do this is to do a few short courses that will help you build a case for admissions. Unmudl offers several courses that can help you build a stronger college application.

Related: How To Apply For Community College (And Why You Should)

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The benefits and drawbacks of SAT/ACT

The idea of skipping the SAT or ACT may appeal to some students. However, students should assess the advantages and disadvantages of test-optional schools. The best option is determined by the pupils' current situation and future objectives. Some things to think about are listed below.

Benefits of skipping SAT/ACT

  1. More time to focus on other aspects of the application
  2. Students devote a significant amount of time to studying for the SAT and ACT. You can devote more time to your application essay or other aspects of the admissions process if these tests are skipped.
  3. 10% to 40% of students may suffer from test anxiety. The SAT and ACT exam experience can be very stressful for some students. Knowing that some colleges accept pupils without these marks may make them feel less stressed.
  4. An equal playing field - Many students are unable to afford private tutoring to assist them in studying for the ACT or SAT. Furthermore, there is a price associated with these exams. When these conditions are removed, the playing field is leveled for all players.

Drawbacks of skipping SAT/ACT

  1. Merit scholarships could be affected- Many schools provide merit scholarships based on ACT and SAT results. Some students transfer from a school that does not require these assessments to one that does. This group of students may be eligible for fewer scholarships.
  2. If you do not have SAT or ACT higher importance will be placed on your GPA and other activities at high school to gauge your abilities.
  3. ACT or SAT scores are still required by some community colleges and certain programs. Choosing to skip the SAT or ACT may limit your possibilities.

Should I take the SAT or ACT?

  • Learners who are applying to universities that do not require a test do not need to submit their scores. 
  • Students with verified disabilities may be eligible for the ACT and SAT waivers at several colleges.
  • Withholding test scores may be beneficial to some pupils. Learners with good GPAs but who did not get high SAT/ACT scores may wish to withhold their results.
  • These scores may be required of students who need a merit-based scholarship to pay for education. 
  • Students with a good ACT or SAT score but a low GPA should also consider submitting their results.

Final Word

Some decisions in life impact your future greatly so make a well-informed decision and make appropriate plans. You've already taken a step toward preparing for a successful college career by reading this Unmudl guide. 

As a whole, most community colleges do not require SAT or ACTs. However, in certain cases, it might be to your advantage to take these tests. In the guide above, we showed you when you should or should not take the tests.

Although the information in this article is applicable to most schools, the admissions process differs. Check with the school you're interested in to see what requirements you'll need to apply.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is SAT required for community colleges?

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