Test Prep

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.