Are you curious about taking the ACT or looking for basic information on ACT testing? I have gathered some of the most vital information on ACT testing just for you. Keep reading to learn more about why ACT testing is important, what test dates are available, the cost of taking the ACT, and what you can do to prepare to earn the best score possible.

Why ACT Testing is Important

ACT testing has grown in popularity over the years, even to the point of surpassing its big brother, the SAT in popularity. Not bad for an exam that began as a rebellious, mid-Western alternative, is it? But controversy aside, ACT testing is important, because standardized test scores are required for most U.S. college and university admissions. It is also important, because not everyone performs well on the SAT. Because both tests measure college readiness, having the option of ACT testing allows all of you to put your best forward when you’re applying to the colleges and universities of your choice.

ACT Testing Dates for 2016 – 2017 School Year

If you need to know when you can register for the ACT, the test dates, and when your scores will be released, see the table below.

Test Date Deadline Late Deadline Scores Released Online (multiple choice only; full score)
Sept 10, 2016 Aug 5, 2016 Aug 8-19, 2016 Sept 19; Oct 3, 2016
Oct 22, 2016 Sept 16, 2016 Sep 17-30, 2016 Nov 8; Nov 15, 2016
Dec 10, 2016 Nov 4, 2016 Nov 5-18, 2016 Dec 21, 2016; Jan 4, 2017
Feb 11, 2017* Jan 13, 2017 Jan 14-20, 2017 Feb 21; Feb 28, 2017
Apr 8, 2017 Mar 3, 2017 Mar 4-17, 2017 Apr 26; May 10, 2017
June 10, 2017 May 5, 2017 May 6-19, 2017 June 21; June 28, 2017

* = No February test dates are scheduled in New York.

The ACT scores are released in two batches, which is why two dates are provided in the Scores Released Online section. On the first date, only the multiple choice score is released and on the second date, the full score is available for you to view online. The deadline columns refer to registration deadlines you need to meet in order to take the ACT on the corresponding date.

I always advise my students to sign up as early as possible. This guarantees that they have a seat and don’t have to pay any extra fees for late registration.

Cost for ACT Testing

Sadly, ACT testing is not free unless you are eligible for a fee waiver. The cost for taking the ACT without writing is $42.50 and the cost to take the ACT with writing is $58.50.

Unless you 100% know you are only applying to schools that will not require the writing portion of the ACT, I tell all of my students to take the ACT with writing. That way you have it in case you need it. Otherwise, you have to go back and re-test.

How to Get Your Best ACT Score

So now that you have some very basic information on ACT testing; let’s discuss what you can do to earn your best ACT score.

Find a Tutor

When you begin preparing for the ACT, you need to find a tutor to work with. Now, I know a lot of you hear or see the word “tutor” and think I’m implying that you are not smart enough to ace this standardized test on your own. False! The reason I suggest working with tutors is you can learn their tips and tricks for getting the highest score possible. They can also work with you one on one and personalize your practice to fit your needs. I love a good test prep book as much as the next person, but they only offer general advice and cannot focus on what you specifically need to improve your score. Make sure your tutor scored in the 99th percentile of the ACT before you agree to work with them.

Gather Your Test Prep Materials

Remember how I said I liked a good test prep book? I wasn’t lying, but they aren’t the only way for you to practice for ACT testing. You can also use official practice tests provided by the ACT or do a Google search. Whatever you get, make sure you use them!

Analyze Your Mistakes…a lot.

When you’re taking a practice test, be sure to mark which questions you feel uncertain about answering correctly. This way when you’re scoring, you can check to see if your uncertainty was valid or just test nerves. For the questions you answered incorrectly, write them down along with the correct answer and apply the 5 Whys Technique to get to the root of why you answered test questions incorrectly. Do this every time and look for patterns so you can see where you need to improve.

Use Awesome Study Habits.

Trust me when I say, I know studying for the ACT is time-consuming. Because of this, you need to make sure you schedule in when you are going to study and hold yourself accountable. Be realistic. Don’t plan to study for 40 hours a week if you spend at least 35 hours in school. Be consistent and eliminate distractions by working in a quiet area. That means no phone, no music, and no friends. It doesn’t make sense to study with these things, because they will not be available to you on test day.

ACT testing is important for the college admissions process, especially if you are not confident or performing well on the SAT. Make sure you sign up early for your test date to avoid any unnecessary fees and check to see if you are eligible for a fee waiver if finances are a concern. I can’t promise that you will get a perfect score on the ACT, but if you follow the suggestions I provided, you will earn the best score you possibly can. Good luck on test day!

Are you preparing to take the ACT? Do you have any additional advice? Comment below and share your stories!