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Freshman: Testing Requirements

CSU campuses use scores from either the ACT or the SAT test (along with your grades) to calculate your Eligibility Index for admission. Learn more here about these tests and how to prepare for college-level math and English if you need it.

A note for fall 2021 first-time freshman: The California State University (CSU) has temporarily suspended the use of ACT/SAT examinations in determining admission eligibility for all CSU campuses for the 2021-2022 academic year. This temporary change of admission eligibility applies only for the fall 2021, winter 2022 and spring 2022 admission cycles. For more information, please visit the First-Time Freshman Guidance and the First-Time Freshman Frequently Asked Questions​​ pages. ​

Testing Requirements​

​FRESHMAN P​RIOR TO ADMISSION

About ACT AND SAT testing requirements​

CSU campuses use scores from either the ACT or the SAT test to calculate your Eligibility Index​ for admission, with exception for Fall 2021 first-time freshmen admission, which should instead follow information on the First-Time Freshmen Guidance​.

SAT/ACT test scores aren’t required to establish the admission eligibility of California residents with a high school grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or above (nonresidents must have a GPA of 3.61 or above). But be aware that impacted campuses and impacted first-time freshmen enrollment categories often include test scores among the supplemental criteria required by all applicants to those campuses and enrollment categories.

The CSU does not use the SAT Writing section or the ACT Writing score to calculate the CSU Eligibility Index.

Note: CSU campuses will accept old and current SAT scores for admission through 2020. Applicants may submit scores from either test.

Learn More About Grades and Tests

Learn More About the ACT

Learn More About the SAT

Campus Deadlines to Take the SAT and ACT (PDF)

WHICH TEST SHOULD I TAKE - THE ACT OR SAT?

CSU campuses use either the ACT or the SAT in the calculation of your Eligibility Index. Described below are some differences between the ACT and SAT; speak to your high school counselor to determine which test would be a better measure of your strengths and readiness for college classes.

What the ACT covers

The ACT covers four areas: English, mathematics, reading and science. The ACT composite score is used for admission to the CSU. The ACT also offers, as an option, the Writing Test. The CSU does not require the score from the Writing Test for admission purposes.

For more information about the ACT and to register for the test and send scores, go to ACT.org.

See the next section to know how to report/send your scores.​

What the SAT covers

The SAT currently consists of two main sections: Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math. Scores from Evidence-Based Reading and Writing and Math are combined and used for admission to the CSU. Scores from the Writing section will not be used for admission purposes to the CSU.

CSU campuses will accept old and current SAT scores for admission through 2020. Applicants may submit scores from either test.

See the next section to know how to report/send your scores.

Sending and matching your ACT and/or SAT scores to the campuses you applied **Even if you are a Fall 2021 First-Time Freshman, you should still submit your test scores if you have them to have them matched with your application for placement purposes, not admissions determinations**

ACT scores - reporting and matching to your application

Making sure your ACT scores are sent to every campus you apply requires these steps:​​

  1. Write in your ACT ID correctly onto your Cal State Apply application in the Standardized Tests section. Unsure of your ACT ID? Visit ACT.org.
  2. On the ACT score report, you should have listed at least one CSU campus, as the score recipient. This will allow the CSU to send the scores to all campuses in which you applied, based on the matching ACT ID number – so make sure you type this in correctly.
  3. You can check to see if your ACT score has been matched to your Cal State Apply application by logging in and reviewing the Check Status page.

If you notice that your ACT scores have not been attached to your Cal State Apply application, contact the Applicant ​Help Center​.

SAT scores - reporting and matching to your application

Making sure your SAT scores are sent to every campus you apply requires these steps:

  1. Write in your College Board ID correctly onto your Cal State Apply application in the Standardized Tests section.
  2. On the College Board score report, you should have listed a CSU campus, or the CSU systemwide institution code (3594), as the score recipient. This will allow the CSU to send the scores to all campuses in which you applied.
    To check where your scores were sent, or for more information on locating your College Board ID, visit this page.
  3. You can check to see if your ACT score has been matched to your Cal State Apply application by logging in and reviewing the Check Status page. If you notice that your ACT scores have not been attached to your Cal State Apply application, contact the Applicant Help Center.

OTHER TESTS TO EARN COLLEGE CREDIT - AP, IB and CLEP CREDIT 

Students may earn general education or lower-division major credits by taking a CSU-accepted external examination in place of a course.

The CSU faculties have determined the passing scores, minimum units of credit earned, and certification area (for General Education Breadth and/or U.S. History, Constitution, and American Ideals) of standardized external examinations, such as Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and College-Level Examination Program (CLEP).

Each campus in the California State University system determines how it will apply credits earned by external examinations toward the degree major.

GRADES IN “A-G” COURSES AND TEST SCORES

The grades you earn in high school are the most important factor in CSU admission decisions. Your high school grade point average is calculated using your grades in all your college prep "a-g" classes completed after the 9th grade.

Test scores are required unless you have a grade point average (GPA) above 3.00 and are a resident of California. The CSU uses a calculation called an Eligibility Index that combines your high school grade point average with the score you earn on either the SAT or ACT tests.

Even if you have a GPA above 3.00, it is useful to take either an SAT or ACT as the score may indicate if you do not need to take English and math placement tests after you are admitted and before you enroll at the CSU. The Eligibility Index for out-of-state students is higher and admission requirements for international students are somewhat different.

SAT/ACT test scores aren’t required to establish the admission eligibility of California residents with a high school grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or above (nonresidents must have a GPA of 3.61 or above). But be aware that impacted campuses and impacted first-time freshmen enrollment categories often include test scores among the supplemental criteria required by all applicants to those campuses and enrollment categories.

If you have your high school GPA and the results of your SAT or ACT test, then you can calculate your Eligibility Index. From there you can quickly see whether you meet the minimum admission standards. Remember, some campuses have higher standards for particular majors or for students who live outside the local campus area.

EARLY ASSESSMENT PROGRAM (EAP)

The Early Assessment Program (EAP) lets you know if you are ready for college-level work in English and mathematics at the end of your junior year of high school.

This early signal gives you the chance to improve your skills during your senior year or the summer before attending a CSU or community college.

Learn more about the CSU Early Assessment Program

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Early Start Program

If you're not ready for college-level math and/or English, you can use the summer before you start your freshman year to prepare.

Learn More

Ready for College Math & English?

Your Early Assessment Program (EAP) results will let you know if you need to participate in the Early Start Program the summer before you start college.

Learn More

The California Promise​ Program

This program enables a specific number of campuses of the CSU to establish pledge programs for first-time students who are interested and able to complete a baccalaureate degree in four years.

Learn More

After Admission: Placement & Other Tests

The CSU requires new students to be tested in English and mathematics before enrolling at a CSU campus, unless they are exempt by having scored well on specific tests.

Learn More