Several states have established ACT and/or SAT graduation requirements for high schoolers to assess school performance and to provide students the chance to take a college admissions exam. Most states don’t mandate either exam; however, many districts and schools have their own testing requirements. 

If you’re in high school, you should know which exam your school will be administering so that you can begin your test prep in advance. Read on to see if your state requires juniors to take the ACT or the Digital SAT!

A map chart of the United States, demonstrating which states require the SAT, which require the ACT, and which require either of the two using color.

States with SAT Graduation Requirements

Is the SAT a graduation requirement in your state? These states require juniors to take the SAT, either as a mandatory assessment administered to everyone or as a high school diploma requirement.


Colorado has been administering the SAT to all 11th graders (as well as the PSAT for 10th graders) since 2015.


The state of Connecticut requires all public school juniors to take Connecticut SAT School Day (Connecticut General Statutes 10-14n).


The Delaware Department of Education uses the SAT as their statewide high school assessment.


Idaho offers SAT School Day to all 11th grade public school students. Since taking a college entrance exam is a high school graduation requirement for Idaho students, the SAT is, effectively, Idaho’s state mandated test.


Indiana has administered the SAT to all juniors for school accountability requirements since 2022.


All 11th graders in Maine take the SAT each spring (though it isn’t explicitly a graduation requirement).


As one component of the Michigan Merit Examination (MME) program, the state requires all juniors to take the SAT. (The other two components of the MME are the ACT WorkKeys job skills assessment and the M-STEP Science and Social Studies.)

New Hampshire

The state of New Hampshire has designated the School Day SAT as a required test for all juniors.

SAT school day

New Mexico

Since 2019, New Mexico has administered the School Day SAT as a requirement for all 11th graders.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island will administer its mandatory SAT to all juniors this spring, as it’s done since 2018.

West Virginia

SAT School Day is West Virginia’s general summative assessment for high schools, mandatory for all juniors except those taking the WV Alternate Summative Assessment.

Schools will administer the Digital SAT School Day some time during the College Board’s provided testing window: March 4–April 26, 2024.

What States Require ACT Testing?

The following states have either made the ACT required to graduate high school, or they simply require schools to administer it to all students.


Required by the state’s accountability system, all juniors in Alabama must complete the ACT in order to be eligible for a diploma. (Though Alabama board of education members are considering replacing the ACT with a different exam in the future, Alabama juniors will be taking the ACT in 2024.)

Analysis of Alabama’s 2023 ACT Scores 


The ACT is Arizona’s statewide high school achievement test, so schools administer it to all juniors each spring. 


Hawaii requires all students in 11th grade to take the ACT with Writing.


Illinois requires that all students take the ACT in order to receive a diploma. The state required the SAT as its mandatory accountability assessment until 2024—beginning with the 2024-25 school year, all Illinois juniors will take the ACT.


The Kentucky Department of Education requires all juniors to take the ACT as a measure of student college readiness in core subjects. (Meeting or surpassing the ACT benchmark score is also one of the ways Kentucky students can demonstrate “postsecondary readiness”.)

Analysis of Kentucky’s 2023 ACT Scores 


The ACT is administered to all Mississippi eleventh graders each spring.

Analysis of Mississippi’s 2023 ACT Scores 


The ACT with Writing is required for Montana students, used by the state as a metric for measuring student and school performance.

Analysis of Montana’s 2023 ACT Scores 


Nebraska also requires the ACT with Writing for all students in 11th grade. The state has administered the ACT like so since 2017.

Analysis of Nebraska’s 2023 ACT Scores 


Nevada’s State Board of Education chose the ACT with Writing to be the state’s College and Career Readiness (CCR) assessment, a graduation requirement for Nevada students.

North Carolina

The ACT exam is administered to all North Carolina juniors each spring. The state also administers the PreACT to 10th graders as an extra opportunity to prepare.

Analysis of North Carolina’s 2023 ACT Scores 


Wisconsin administers the ACT with Writing to its juniors, though it isn’t a statewide graduation requirement.


The ACT is required for all Wyoming 11th graders to take (except for those on the WY-ALT path). Wyoming also offers the optional ACT ‘Senior Retakes’ to seniors in the fall.

Analysis of Wyoming’s 2023 ACT Scores 

ACT Testing Dates

The ACT District Testing Program offers several testing windows from which schools can choose their ACT test date(s):

Test Administration Paper Test Dates Online Test Dates
Fall 2024, Test Window 1 October 15, 2024 October 15-18 & 21-25
Fall 2024, Test Window 2 October 29, 2024 October 29 – November 1 & 4-8
Initial Spring 2024 N/A February 25-28 & March 3-7
Early Spring 2025 Window 1 March 11, 2025 March 11-14 & 17-21
Early Spring 2025 Window 2 March 25, 2025 March 25-28 & March 31-April 4
Late Spring 2025 Window 1 April 8, 2025 April 8-11 & 14-18
Late Spring 2025 Window 2 April 22, 2025 April 22-25 & April 28-May 2

States That Require Either the SAT or the ACT

A few states don’t mind whether their students take the ACT or the SAT, so long as they take one of them! Still, schools and districts may have their own preference. (If you’re lucky enough to have a school that lets you choose the exam to take, make sure you learn about both the SAT and ACT to choose a test that fits you!)


If you’re a student in Ohio, you should probably start test prepping even sooner than others—Ohio juniors must reach a particular SAT/ACT “remediation-free” benchmark score to meet their graduation requirements. Individual districts determine whether they will administer the ACT or SAT each school year. 

Ohio’s “Remediation-free” Minimum Scores:

  • ACT English subscore: 18
  • ACT Math subscore: 22
  • SAT ELA subscore: 480
  • SAT Math subscore: 530


Oklahoma’s statewide 11th grade testing program is the College- and Career-Readiness Assessment (CCRA). Part 1 of the CCRA is either the SAT or ACT with Writing, chosen by each district. Part 2 of the CCRA is a set of two tests aligned to Oklahoma Academic Standards, a Science assessment and a U.S. History assessment.


Tennessee state law (T.C.A. § 49-6-6001) requires all public school 11th graders to take a postsecondary readiness assessment—in order to qualify for graduation their senior year, Tennessee juniors must take either the SAT or ACT. Districts can administer both exams, allowing students to choose which one they take, or they can select one to administer. 

Analysis of Tennessee’s 2023 ACT Scores 

States Without ACT and SAT Graduation Requirements

These states do not establish taking the ACT or SAT as a mandatory assessment or a statewide high school graduation requirement. Still, districts and schools may choose to require one of these tests as a prerequisite for graduation. States in bold offer statewide SAT School Day or ACT testing.

*In these states, students have the option to use the SAT or ACT to fulfill certain graduation requirements in place of other tests or requirements.

**South Carolina offers both the ACT and SAT but does not require either.

How to Prepare for Digital SAT or ACT Testing

If you live in one of the states with ACT or SAT graduation requirements or you know your school makes one of the tests mandatory, don’t consider yourself unlucky. The SAT and ACT are pricey to take, and SAT School Day/ACT District Testing provides a free test on a school day—that means no test price, no transportation cost to or from a testing center, and no need to take time during your weekend for a test!

Because retaking exams will usually boost your score, especially if supplemented with consistent test prep, we recommend that you take your in-school SAT or ACT, then retake the exam your senior year if you want to improve your score for college or scholarship applications. If you’re looking for ACT practice tests or digital SAT practice that can help you get accustomed to the new adaptive format, Piqosity is here to help!

Along with our full-length, online ELA and Math courses for grades 5-11, we offer full SAT, ACT, and ISEE test prep courses, each of which includes 12 practice exams, dozens of concept lessons, personalized practice software, and more. In addition to our upcoming digital SAT course, we’re also offering a free digital PSAT! This practice digital PSAT is designed to help you study ahead of time for the exam’s new format, available by signing up for a Piqosity community account.

Our free community account allows you to try out all of Piqosity’s features. When you’re ready to upgrade, Piqosity’s year-long accounts start at only $89. (Secure a 10% off coupon by joining our mailing list!)