Participation

Although both ACT and SAT® scores are accepted at virtually all postsecondary institutions that require an admissions test, there remain state and regional differences in the share of high school graduates who take each test.

  • In 26 states, at least 60% of the high school graduating class of 2011 took the ACT. In 12 of these states, at least 80% of their graduates took the ACT.
  • Comparatively, in 18 states and in DC, at least 60% of all 2011 high school graduates took the SAT. In 4 of these states, at least 80% of their graduates took the SAT.

ACT research shows that ACT-tested students differ both in terms of their background characteristics and their college selection behaviors depending on the ACT and SAT participation rates in the state. To illustrate some of these differences in this report, we have classified states into 5 categories based on their ratio of ACT- and SAT-tested high school graduates. The table below lists for each of these state categories the ratio of ACT- and SAT-tested students that defines the category, the number of states in the category, and the number of ACT-tested students across those states. The table also provides for each state category the average ACT Composite score and the percentage of students whose family income is greater than $60,000.

As you will see throughout this report, ACT-tested students from “ACT+” and “ACT” states often exhibit the student testing and enrollment behaviors of the typical college-bound population in those states. ACT-tested students from “SAT” and “SAT+” states, however, frequently exhibit different testing and enrollment behaviors.

State CategoryCriteriaStatesACT-Tested StudentsFamily Income > $60KAverage ACT Composite
ACT+ACT to SAT ratio of 4+ to 121848,85439%20.7
ACTACT to SAT ratio of 1.5+ to 14121,17646%21.7
ACT/SATACT to SAT ratio of roughly 1 to 15176,54433%19.8
SATSAT to ACT ratio of 1.5+ to 115424,13449%21.9
SAT+SAT to ACT ratio of 4+ to 1652,40465%22.8

Classification of States by ACT and SAT Participation

U.S. map showing classification of states by ACT and SAT participation
StateClassification
AlabamaACT+
AlaskaACT/SAT
ArizonaACT/SAT
ArkansasACT+
CaliforniaSAT
ColoradoACT+
ConnecticutSAT
DelawareSAT+
District of ColumbiaSAT
FloridaACT/SAT
GeorgiaSAT
HawaiiSAT
IdahoACT
IllinoisACT+
IndianaSAT
IowaACT+
KansasACT+
KentuckyACT+
LouisianaACT+
MaineSAT+
MarylandSAT
MassachusettsSAT
MichiganACT+
MinnesotaACT+
MississippiACT+
MissouriACT+
MontanaACT
NebraskaACT+
NevadaACT/SAT
New HampshireSAT+
New JerseySAT+
New MexicoACT+
New YorkSAT
North CarolinaSAT
North DakotaACT+
OhioACT
OklahomaACT+
OregonSAT
PennsylvaniaSAT+
Rhode IslandSAT+
South CarolinaACT/SAT
South DakotaACT+
TennesseeACT+
TexasSAT
UtahACT+
VermontSAT
VirginiaSAT
WashingtonSAT
West VirginiaACT
WisconsinACT+
WyomingACT+

Map reads: For the high school graduating class of 2011, Michigan is categorized as an “ACT+” state.

Note: State categories were determined by calculating a ratio of ACT-tested and SAT-tested students in each state. Washington, DC, not shown, is categorized as an “SAT” state.

  • At 32 to 1, North Dakota had the largest ratio of ACT-tested to SAT-tested high school graduates. Maine had the largest ratio of SAT-tested to ACT-tested graduates, at 9 to 1.
  • In 2011, 100% of the high school graduates in 6 states (CO, IL, KY, MI, TN, and WY) took the ACT. Maine had the largest share of students from the graduating class of 2011 who took the SAT, at 86%.


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