Are there any Entrance Exams to get into a Criminal Justice Degree Program?

One of the first questions that students ask before applying is if they need to take entrance exams for a criminal justice degree. Entrance exams are tests that monitor your abilities in reading, writing, math and other areas. Most schools use your test scores and other factors to determine the likelihood that you’ll do well in that school and that you’ll finish your program. While you don’t need to take multiple entrance exams, you usually need to take at least one test and submit your scores to the college.


The SAT is one of the oldest college exams in the world. Started in the early 1900s, the test originally gave students a score based on a scale between zero and 1600. The new test now consists of three separate parts: math, writing and critical reading. Students can earn a maximum of 800 points on each section for a perfect score of 2,400. Many tutoring centers and high schools offer preparatory classes that let students learn more about the test and take practice tests.


American College Testing calls its entrance exam the ACT. Like the SAT, it consists of a section on math and a section on reading. Interested students can also take the writing section, but this is an optional section that isn’t required by many colleges. A perfect score on the ACT is 36, but many schools consider a score of 25 as high. Only one percent of all students in the country score a perfect score, and only a small number of students score above 30. A number of high schools now require that students take the ACT before receiving a diploma.

Preparing for the Test

Taking one or more practice exam is just one way to prepare for an entrance exam. The College Board recommends that students use practice tests to see how much time they have to spend on each section and to see which areas they perform best. This helps students decide where to focus their study time and whether or not to take a professional study course. Both the ACT and SAT limit what students can bring with them. You must bring number two pencils, but some testing centers won’t let you bring in a calculator or any type of purse or bag.

Other Requirements for Admission

Though you need to take one of the entrance exams for a criminal justice degree, colleges look at other factors before granting a student admission. One of the biggest factors is your high school transcript, which shows each class you took, the grades you received in those classes and your total grade point average. Schools also look for those with experience outside the classroom, including whether you worked after school, the extracurricular activities you did and the response that you gave to an essay question. Some criminal justice undergraduate programs also ask that students submit between one and three letters of recommendation from their peers or teachers.

Though most schools do not have any entrance exams that students need to take on campus, those schools do ask that students take the ACT or SAT. The scores you receive on those entrance exams for a criminal justice degree, combined with your application details, provide the school information about your skill levels and capabilities.  This information can help schools determine your potential for success in their program.

Related Resource:  What are the prerequisites for majoring in criminal justice?