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Articles / Admissions / Can I Send Colleges ONLY the Writing Score from My ACT?

Feb. 7, 2021

Can I Send Colleges ONLY the Writing Score from My ACT?

Question: I took the ACT junior year with the writing portion, and now I want to retake it but without the writing part. The college I want to send my score to wants the ACT with writing portion. Can I just keep my writing score and retake the other subjects ? Or will the writing section score will be gone completely?

Unfortunately you cannot submit JUST the Writing portion of your junior-year ACT. So you have two choices ... the first is to try the Writing again when you re-take the ACT, and the second is to send results of BOTH of your ACT tests to any colleges that require Writing (assuming that your second ACT Composite is better than your first. If it's not better, you can just send the first). Ordering score reports from both tests will, of course, be pricier than ordering just one set of scores. However, if your second scores are higher than the first, the vast majority of colleges will use ONLY those scores and won't pay attention to your initial ones. Some colleges will even “superscore" your two tests, meaning that they will take the highest score you received on each test section from your two test sessions and create a new Composite score for you which may include a mish-mash of section scores from both tests.


Over the past year or so, there have been problems with the Writing section of the ACT. Many guidance counselors are complaining that the Writing scores frequently seem out of whack ... i.e.., they are oddly lower than the other scores and not reflective of a student's actual abilities. Thus admission committees often don't take the Writing scores terribly seriously ... even when they request them. So you might want to consider re-taking the Writing when you do your senior ACT, with the understanding that, if the second Writing score ends up worse than the first, it's not going to hurt you because the college folks are so flummoxed by the erratic Writing outcomes and they'll most likely only pay attention to your earlier, higher score.

“The Dean" certainly wishes that the whole standardized testing process could be a lot less stressful and confusing. But this is what we're stuck with for now. So, as you're deciding whether to re-take the Writing or to send your colleges the score reports from both your junior-year and senior-year test sessions, don't lose any sleep over which approach to chose because colleges are likely to focus only on the scores that work most to your advantage.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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