When Is the ACT?

ACT Test Dates and Registration Deadlines for 2019 - 20

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For the 2019-20 admissions cycle, U.S. students have seven American College Testing (ACT) testing dates from which to choose. The exam is offered in September, October, December, February, April, June, and July. The July option was new in 2018. Registration deadlines are roughly five weeks before the exam, so be sure to plan ahead.

When Is the ACT in the United States?

For the 2019 - 20 academic year, the ACT test dates and registration deadlines are presented in the table below.

Important ACT Dates — 2019-20
Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline
September 14, 2019 August 16, 2019 August 30, 2019
October 26, 2019 September 20, 2019 October 4, 2019
December 14, 2019 November 8, 2019 November 22, 2019
February 8, 2020 January 10, 2020 January 17, 2020
April 4, 2020 (canceled) n/a n/a
June 13, 2020 May 8, 2020 May 22, 2020
July 18, 2020 June 19, 2020 June 26, 2020

Note that the July ACT is not offered in New York State. International test dates are generally the same as those in the United States, but options may be limited.

When Is the ACT Offered Outside of the United States?

If you're taking the ACT outside of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, or U.S. territories, you should register online for the exam. The test dates are the same as for the United States with the exception of February when the exam is not offered at international test locations. There is a $57.50 fee for international testing and late registration is not available.

Is the ACT Always on a Saturday?

The ACT test dates, like the SAT test dates, are on select Saturdays throughout the year. For some students, however, religious convictions make Saturday testing impossible. For these cases, the ACT is offered at a limited number of testing locations on Sundays. You'll be able to locate these Sunday test centers on the ACT website when you register for the exam. 

It is also possible to apply for arranged testing if there is no Sunday test center near you, you live in a country where the ACT is not offered, or if you are confined to a correctional facility on all of the test dates.

Note that non-Saturday testing is not an option for the great majority of high school students, and you should make every effort to sit for the ACT during one of the Saturday exam administrations

Is the ACT Offered Near Me?

On the ACT website, you'll find a tool for finding your nearest test center. The great majority of students should be able to find a test center within an hour of home, and you may even find that your own high school is a test center. Some rural students, however, may find that the exam will require a bit more travel. The situation can be even more challenging for international students. Some countries have just one or two test centers, and a few countries have none at all. Some international students may need to travel long distances or to other countries in order to take the exam.

How Does ACT Test Registration Work?

To register for the ACT, you'll need to create an online account on the ACT website. The process can take about 40 minutes because the registration form will ask you about your personal information, interests, and high school course details. You'll also need to locate the test center where you want to take the exam, and you'll need to have a credit card or other form of payment handy to pay the registration fees. Finally, you'll need to provide a headshot photo for your registration ticket. This is a security measure to ensure that the person taking the exam is the same person who registered for the exam. 

When Is the Best Time to Take the ACT?

When you take the ACT is entirely up to you, but some exam strategies work better than others. Because the ACT is an achievement test (rather than an aptitude test), it asks you about information you have learned in high school. The result is that taking the exam in 9th or 10th grade may not be the best idea for the simple reason that you probably haven't yet covered all of the material that will appear on the exam.

One of the common approaches to the ACT is to take the exam in the second half of your junior year (February, April, May, or June). If you don't get good ACT scores from that test, you have time to prepare further and then retake the exam at the beginning of your senior year (July, September, or October). Be careful with the December test date: you'll want to make sure the scores will be available in time to meet all of your application deadlines.

It is always an option to take the ACT more than twice, but doing so shouldn't be necessary for the great majority of students. In many cases, in fact, a single testing in the spring of junior year can be more than adequate if you find your scores are in line with your target schools.

What Does It Cost to Register for the ACT?

At the time of registration, you will need to pay the fees for the ACT. The current fees for some of the most popular exam services are as follows:

  • $52.00 for the basic ACT. This fee includes score results for the student, the student's school, and four colleges
  • $68 for the ACT with Writing
  • $30 additional fee if you register late
  • $55.00 additional fee if you register for standby testing (after the late registration deadline)
  • $13 for additional score reports

As you plan your college budget, be sure to keep these costs in mind. College expenses aren't just about tuition, room, and board. Applying to college is also expensive, and standardized tests are a big part of that cost. If you take the ACT twice and need to send score reports to a dozen colleges, your ACT costs will most likely be several hundred dollars. The good news is that fee waivers are available for qualifying students from low income families.

A Final Word About ACT Test Dates and Registration

For better or worse, standardized tests are an important part of the college application process. Even if you are applying to test-optional colleges, you may need to take either the ACT or SAT to qualify for scholarships, to be placed into the appropriate classes, or to meet NCAA requirements for athletic participation. 

Finally, don't put off thinking about the ACT. You'll want to carefully plan when you take the exam, and you'll also need to plan ahead so that you don't miss registration deadlines.

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Grove, Allen. "When Is the ACT?" ThoughtCo, Nov. 22, 2020, thoughtco.com/when-is-the-act-788775. Grove, Allen. (2020, November 22). When Is the ACT? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/when-is-the-act-788775 Grove, Allen. "When Is the ACT?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/when-is-the-act-788775 (accessed March 27, 2023).