ACT Test Help and FAQs
Many students test twice, once as a junior and again as a senior. You should definitely consider retesting if you had any problems during testing, such as misunderstanding the directions, or feeling ill.
You may also want to consider retesting if you don't believe that your scores accurately represent your abilities, especially if you see a discrepancy between your ACT scores and your high school grades, or if you have subsequently completed coursework in the areas covered by the ACT.
Once you have a composite score, when you retake the ACT, we will automatically send to your college code recipients your ACT Superscore, to ensure they have your best overall score.
How will you do on a retest?
Research shows that of students from the 2019 graduating class who took the ACT more than once:
- 56% increased their Composite score on the retest
- 20% had no change in their Composite score on the retest
- 24% decreased their Composite score on the retest
ACT is committed to serving students with documented disabilities by providing reasonable accommodations appropriate to the student's diagnosis and needs. For detailed information, see Accommodations.
ACT has established policies regarding documentation of an applicant's disability and the process for requesting test accommodations.
You will need to create an ACT account to register for tests, make changes to your registrations, view your scores, and send score reports, order test preparation materials, and more.We encourage all students who are at least 13 years old to create a free MyACT account. (Note: If you are younger than 13, your parent or guardian cannot create an ACT Web account for you, contact ACT customer support for assistance.)
All services ordered online must be paid for with a valid American Express, DISCOVER, MasterCard, or VISA card (or with approved ACT fee waiver or voucher). Note: If you are younger than 13, your parent or guardian cannot create an ACT account in order to place an order online for you.
- The ACT with writing includes the four subject area tests plus a 40-minute writing test.
The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete, including a short break (or just over four hours if you are taking the ACT with writing). Actual testing time is 2 hours and 55 minutes (plus 40 minutes if you are taking the ACT with writing).
The basic registration fee includes score reports for up to four college choices, if you list valid codes when you register.
The ACT tests are prepared according to the:
- Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, and National Council on Measurement in Education (1999).
- Code of Professional Responsibilities in Educational Measurement, National Council on Measurement in Education (1995).
- Code of Fair Testing Practices in Education, Joint Committee on Testing Practices (2004).
Pick a test date that is at least two months ahead of the application deadlines of all the colleges and scholarship agencies you might want to apply to. Scores for the ACT are normally reported within two business days after the test date. If you take the ACT with writing, scores will be reported only after all of your scores are available, including writing, normally within 2–3 weeks after the test date.
Advantages to testing in grade 11:
- You have probably completed the coursework corresponding to the test material.
- You will have your test scores and other information in time to help you plan your senior year. (For example, you may decide to take an additional class in an area in which your test score was low.)
- Universities will know of your interests and have your scores in time to contact you during the summer before your senior year, when many of them are sending information about admissions, course placement, scholarships, and special programs to prospective students.
- You will have information about yourself and the schools you're considering prior to your campus visits, making your visits more focused.
- You will have the opportunity to retest if you feel your scores don't accurately reflect your abilities in the areas tested.
People of all ages and grade levels are eligible to take the ACT. This includes students in grades 6, 7, 8, and 9 and high school graduates. You will need to register and pay the test fees.
Note: Examinees under the age of 13 cannot create an online account. Contact ACT Customer Support for assistance.
- The ACT is accepted by all 4-year universities in the United States.
- The ACT multiple-choice tests are based on what you're learning. The ACT is not an aptitude or an IQ test. The test questions on the ACT are directly related to what you have learned in your high school courses in English, mathematics, reading, and science. Every day you attend class you are preparing for the ACT. The harder you work in school, the more prepared you will be for the test.
- There are many ways to prepare for the ACT. Taking challenging courses in high school is the best way to prepare, but ACT also offers a number of test preparation options including free online practice tests, testing tips for each subject area tested, and the free student booklet Preparing for the ACT.
- The ACT helps you plan for your future. In addition to the tests, the ACT also provides you with a unique Interest Inventory and a Student Profile Section. By responding to these sections, which ask about your interests, courses, and educational preferences, you provide a profile of your work in high school and your career choices to universities.
- The ACT helps institutions find you. By taking the ACT, you can make yourself visible to universities and scholarship agencies, through the Educational Opportunity Service another way to help you get ready for life after high school.
- Your ACT score is based only on what you know. The ACT is the only national college admission test based on the number of correct answers—you are not penalized for guessing.
- You choose which scores you send to universities. When you register for the ACT, you can choose up to four institutions to which ACT will send your scores as part of the basic fee for your test option. If you take the test more than once, you choose which test date results the universities will receive. ACT sends scores only for the test date you select.
- Optional Writing Test. Because not all universities require a writing test for admission, ACT offers you the choice of whether or not you want to spend the extra time and money taking the writing test. Writing is an important skill for college and work, but schools use different methods to measure your writing skills. Find out what institutions have told us about their policies here.
This is not currently a feature of our system, but we are looking at adding it in the future.
If you registered for Non-US testing*, you have 24 hours, immediately following your test date to correct your high school code and/or add/change/cancel college codes. The same deadline applies even if your test center is rescheduled for any reason (e.g., inclement weather).
The best way is to log in to your ACT web account and select "Make changes to your registration." There is no fee for changes to the first four college codes. After the deadline, all changes must be made by requesting and paying for Additional Score Reports.
* For other testing programs, you won't be able to make changes once you submit your answer folder to your test administrator.
Log in to your ACT web account and select "Update Registration" no later than the late registration deadline for your original test date. You will need to know your preferred test center, test option, test session, and/or test date and have a valid credit card number with expiration date and security code.
Test Option Change
You may complete a test option change until the late registration deadline for your test date. If you add the writing you will be charged $16.50. If you drop the writing you will be refunded the $16.50 writing fee.
Test Center or Test Session Change for the same test date
If a seat is available for your test option at your new preferred test center or test session on your preferred test date, you will be assigned there and charged a Change fee. You cannot request a test center or test session change after the late registration deadline.
Test Date Change
You may make a change to your registration date, but you must do so by the late registration deadline for your original test date. Changes after the late registration deadline are not allowed and your registration fee is non-refundable.
Other Registration Changes (university choices, address, etc.)
Read your admission ticket carefully. If you need to make any informational changes (such as your mailing address), log in to your ACT web account and select "Make changes to your registration." Note that university choices can be added or changed only for 24 hours following the test date.
See current ACT fees for details about additional fees.
ACT accepts any valid American Express, Discover, MasterCard or Visa card.
If you are unable to test on your scheduled test date, you may move your registration to a new test date provided you do so by the late registration deadline for the original test date. You will be charged a $30 change fee. After the late registration deadline, you are no longer able to make changes to your registration and the registration fee is nonrefundable.
Please note: If the test date you are moving to is already in its late registration period, you will also be charged a late registration fee.
Fees for optional services, however, are refundable on request if you ordered and paid for them when you registered, and if you submit a timely refund request. See ACT fees for details. Optional services include:
- Score reports for 5th and 6th college codes
- ACT writing test
To request a refund of these optional services, email firstname.lastname@example.org with "REFUND" in the subject line, or write a letter including your identifying information and the test date and test option for which you registered. Label your envelope "REFUND." Refunds will be issued about 8 weeks after the test date. Refund requests for the 2019-2020 testing year received after August 31, 2020, will not be honored.
Send your request to:
301 ACT Drive
P.O. Box 414
Iowa City, IA 52243-0414
Yes. Log in to your ACT web account and select "Make changes to your registration" no later than the late registration deadline for your test date. Fee adjustments depend on whether you are adding or removing the writing test and whether other services are required to find you a seat (for example, a Test Center Change).
If you change your mind after the late deadline, you may attempt to drop the writing option on the day of the test. Tell the test coordinator at your test center that you want to change your Test Option before you are admitted to test. If there are materials, space, and staff available for your preferred test option, you will be allowed to make the change. Please note: You will not be able to add the writing option after the late registration deadline.
See current ACT fees for specific information.
You can check if the website you're using has this type of security by checking to make sure the URL begins "https" rather than "http".
Only English characters can be accepted. Use the name you would use when applying for a driver’s license or other government-issued ID. The first and last names provided when you create your ACT web account will appear on all of your ACT documents. These include the test center roster ACT sends to the test center, and your score reports.
On test day, you will be required to present acceptable photo identification. The first and last names on your photo ID must be consistent with the names on your ACT ticket. Before test day, check your photo ID against the names on your ACT web account and ticket. If there are significant differences, you will NOT be admitted to test. Please note the following:
- Slight differences in your first name due to shortened names (such as “Dave” vs. “David” or “Jen” vs. “Jennifer”) are common and acceptable.
- Differences in your first name due to traditional nicknames that are not based on shortening the name (such as “Jack” vs. “John” or “Peggy” vs. “Margaret”) will NOT be accepted.
- If you go by your middle name, but your photo ID lists your first name, you must use your first name as your ACT name to be admitted to test.
- The use of initials in place of first and last names (such as “JD” or “MJ”) will NOT be accepted for either your ACT name or your photo ID.
- Differences in last name will not be accepted at the test center.
If you need to change either of the names (first and/or last) previously provided to ACT, contact ACT Customer Care at email@example.com. You may need to provide written documentation to support the change—such as a court order, adoption papers, or marriage license—before it can be made. This could cause you to miss testing on your preferred test day.
When you registered, the test center you chose was either full or unavailable. We assigned you to the nearest available test center, based on your original choices, that had a seat and materials for your test option.
To request a Test Center Change, log in to your ACT web account and select "Make changes to your registration" by the late deadline for your test date. Have your ACT ID, test date, test option, preferred test center and a valid credit card number with expiration date and security code.
If there is room at your preferred test center for your test option, you will be assigned there and charged a Test Center Change fee.
For students approved to test with extended time: If you were approved, we assigned you to the nearest test center with an extended time seat. If you were approved for accommodations other than extended time, we assigned you to the nearest available center that could provide those accommodations.
Non-Saturday testing is available. For every non-US test date, there are sessions on both Friday and Saturday. Students who cannot test on Saturday, due to religious convictions, should make sure they search for sessions available on the Friday of the test window.
The only change you can make on the day of the test is your test option—ACT or ACT with writing. Tell the test supervisor at your test center that you want to make this change before you are admitted to test. If there are materials, space, and staff available for your new preferred test option after students registered for that option have been admitted, you will be allowed to make the change. Please note: You will not be able to add writing on the day of the test.
Q1: How does the policy apply to calculators that cannot hold programs and documents?
A: Not all calculators have the capability to hold programs and documents. If the calculator you bring to take the ACT Mathematics Test cannot hold programs and documents, then these clarifications do not affect you.
Q2: What is computer algebra system (CAS) functionality?
A: A computer algebra system typically solves equations algebraically, simplifies expressions, performs algebraic manipulations, and performs exact arithmetic (for example, does not round or truncate decimal places). A computer algebra system is also a system, potentially doing many levels of analysis at the same time. Examples include, but are not limited to, Zoom-Math, APP4MATH, F2K, etc.
Q3: Why can't I use a computer algebra system on the ACT Mathematics test?
A: A computer algebra system has a valid place in mathematics, and learning how to use the tool effectively is valuable. The ACT Mathematics Test does not assess this skill. Being college and career ready in mathematics requires that a student be able to analyze algebraic expressions and equations, knowing what to do in order to solve problems.
Q4: My calculator holds apps as well as programs. Are apps allowed?
A: Apps that have CAS functionality must be removed as well. Even though your calculator may have separate buttons or places to store apps versus programs, an app is a kind of program. For the purposes of this policy, the definition of “program” includes apps. Any time the word “program” is used, it should be interpreted to include apps as well.
Q5: Do ALL programs have to be removed? What about documents?
A: Only programs that have CAS functionality must be removed. All documents, however, must be removed regardless of their purpose or function.
Q6: Can you tell me if a specific program or app is allowed?
A: Given the proliferation of math resources/tools, ACT is not fully familiar with all mathematics programs and apps that are available for use on a calculator. If you are unsure whether a program or app is prohibited, our recommendation is to not install it or remove it before test day.
Q7: Is it OK to disable programs instead of removing them?
A: ACT's calculator policy calls for the programs to be removed. Disabling programs – for example, putting the calculator in Press to Test mode – is not enough.
Q8: If I have to remove programs from my calculator, how do I get them back on it after I test?
A: Many calculators have a way of restoring programs if they have been saved outside the calculator. If you have programs that you need to remove and you do not know how to save and restore, we recommend you check with your calculator company for details well in advance of test day.
Q9: What kinds of mathematics-related programs ARE allowed?
A: The kinds of mathematics-related programs permitted for the ACT allow students to use the calculator capabilities to do the routine calculations yet require students to show their analysis skills by choosing the right operations and process. Mathematics-related programs are allowed if they are single-purpose – for example, finding numeric solutions to a quadratic equation. A student must choose the right program for the right purpose. This is much the same as choosing the right formula for the right purpose.
Q10: Are there any rules that allowed mathematics-related programs must follow?
A: Programs must be written in the language of the calculator. Programs written in a different language, compiled, and loaded onto the calculator are not allowed. In this way, the programs can be examined on the calculator and will use calculator functions. Programs must not be lengthy. The limit is 25 logical lines of code. Programs cannot call another program. Techniques such as compressing code into a data statement are not allowed as a way of getting around this limit. Programs are allowed to change the value of system variables so that results may, for example, be graphed through the normal calculator graphing interface.
The best preparation for the ACT is taking a solid high school program—courses in English, mathematics, science, and social studies—and taking your schoolwork seriously. It's also true that your attitudes, emotions, and physical state may influence your performance. So start preparing early.
Also read the information here on the web so you know what to expect on test day.
Listen to the local radio or television station that normally carries school announcements. If the test administration is canceled at your test center, there will be an announcement and the administration will be rescheduled. ACT will also notify you by mail or e-mail as soon as your rescheduled test date information is finalized. All test centers being rescheduled are listed here, along with further information.
If your test center stays open, but you are unable to travel to the test center due to severe weather, call ACT Customer Care at 1.319.337.1270 (Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. CST or GMT-5) during the week after your originally scheduled test date to change to a future test date (a Test Date Change fee will apply). If your test center remained open, you will not be eligible to test at a rescheduled test center.
If your appearance has changed and you do not have acceptable photo ID that matches your current appearance, you may use the ACT Student Identification Form (with current photo). Questions about ID policy should be directed to ACT Customer Care.
If you miss the test for any reason, including illness, injury, being denied admission at the test center for lack of ID, or late arrival, you may request a refund for optional services only.
IMPORTANT: After this deadline has passed, you cannot later request a test date change. You must register again and pay the full fee for your test option if you want to retest.
Request a refund for optional services
If you do not test and do not make a test date change, the following fees for optional services are refundable if you ordered and paid for the services when you registered:
- Score reports for 5th and 6th college codes
- ACT writing test
To request a refund of these optional services, submit a contact us form in MyACT. Refunds will be issued about eight weeks after your scheduled test date and will be issued as a credit to the credit card with which the test was purchased. Requests for refunds for the 2019–2020 testing year received after August 30, 2020, will not be considered.
If you miss the late deadline to register for a test date, you will need to register for another test date.
- Acceptable photo identification. You will not be admitted to test without it.
- A permitted calculator (PDF) may be used on the mathematics test only. It is your responsibility to know whether your calculator is permitted. Please refer to the ACT Calculator Policy (PDF).
- Snacks or drinks to consume outside the test room during break.
You are not permitted to use or access the following items while in the test room:
- textbooks, foreign language or other dictionaries, scratch paper (unless specifically authorized and provided by ACT), notes, or other aids
- highlight pens, colored pens or pencils, or correction fluid/tape
- any electronic device other than a permitted calculator (examples include cell phone, media player, iPad, headphones, camera)
- reading material
- tobacco in any form
- food or beverages, including water
For additional information, see prohibited behavior at the test center.
Testing begins after all examinees present by 8:00 a.m. (or 1:30 p.m. for afternoon testing) are checked in and seated. A short break is scheduled after the first two tests. For students taking the ACT with writing, a brief break is also scheduled before the writing test. Students taking the ACT in standard time rooms are normally dismissed at about 12:15 p.m. (or 5:45 p.m.); students taking the ACT with writing are normally dismissed at about 1:15 p.m. (or 6:45 p.m.)
For more information about what to expect on test day, see Test Day.
ACT, Inc. operates within a framework of internal policies and procedures that protect the personal information of its customers. ACT does not sell or provide any personally identifiable information, including ACT test scores, to any test preparation companies. It is not ACT's practice to call students registering for the ACT test or other customers to sell them test prep services or to request credit card information over the phone.
If students or others receive phone calls requesting credit card information from persons or organizations claiming to represent or be affiliated with ACT, they should contact ACT Customer Care (319.337.1270) or the local authorities with as much information as possible about the caller.
|Subject||Questions||Time (in minutes)|
Testing begins after all examinees present by scheduled exam time are checked in and seated. A short break is scheduled after the first two tests. For students taking the ACT with writing, a brief break is also scheduled before the writing test. For morning testing sessions, students taking the ACT in standard time rooms are normally dismissed at about 12:15 p.m.; students taking the ACT with writing are normally dismissed at about 1:15 p.m. For afternoon sessions, we anticipate students taking the ACT in standard time rooms will be normally dismissed at about 5:45 p.m.; those with writing to be dismissed at about 6:45 p.m.
For more information about what to expect on test day, see Test Day.
|Note: Not all scores will be posted online on the earliest date shown. Scores will be processed and posted weekly as soon as the situation causing a delay is resolved. We encourage you to check back weekly.|
- an irregularity is reported at your test center.
- you owe any registration fees.
Scores are processed and reported weekly, usually each Wednesday and Friday, once the situation causing the delay is resolved.
The scoring process for the writing test takes longer. If you tested through non-US testing, you can view your multiple-choice scores, including the Composite score, as soon as they are ready - typically two business days after your test date. We will add your writing scores as soon as they are available and notify you when you log in to your student web account if your writing scores have been posted.
Most multiple-choice scores from non-US testing are processed and posted online within 2 business days after each test date. Check periodically for updates if your scores are not posted on the earliest date shown. If you took the ACT with writing, your writing scores will be added when they are available, normally about 6-8 weeks after your multiple-choice scores.
Scores are processed and posted weekly (usually each Wednesday and Friday) as soon as the situation causing the delay is resolved.
Scores are normally processed and posted online within 2 business days after the test date. If you took the ACT with writing, your scores will be released only after all your scores are available, including writing, normally about 6-8 weeks after your multiple-choice scores.
Your score report will also be delivered as a PDF through your student web account. You will be able to order additional score reports once the PDF score is delivered.
Score reports are processed and added each week, usually each Wednesday and Friday. Normally, all scores are reported by 8 weeks after the test date. There is no option to speed the scoring of your tests.
If you tested through Special or Arranged testing as of mid-September 2008, you can also view your scores online after you receive your score report in the mail with an ACT Student web account.
Make sure you requested your scores be released to that institution and you listed the correct ACT college code. The college codes you listed when you registered are shown on your score report. Contact the admissions office at the university and provide them with your name and ACT ID.
ACT normally reports scores for the ACT within 2 business days after the test date. Scores for the ACT with writing are normally reported within 2 to 3 weeks after the test date. Please allow at least 8 weeks for a college or university to confirm receipt of your scores. Keep in mind that after they receive your scores, the college may need additional time to process them and match them to your application.
Colleges and universities determine how often they receive scores from ACT—at least every two weeks.
If you tested through National or International Testing and did not already have an ACT ID, one was assigned to your record at the time of registration. This number begins with a dash and is followed by eight digits and is located at the top of your Student Report. Provide this number to the admissions office, along with your name as it appears on your report.
No. If you took the writing test, your scores from that test date can be reported only after your writing scores have been processed. It’s ACT's policy to report scores only for entire test dates, or provide an ACT Superscore.
Yes, ACT will send an ACT Superscore if you have taken more than one full ACT test. ACT will maintain a separate record for each test date, and then superscores the best results from each section.
Most multiple-choice scores, including the Composite score, are typically ready to report within 2 weeks after each test date. Writing scores are added as soon as they are available, usually 2 weeks after the multiple-choice scoresYour scores will not be released to colleges until all of your scores are available for reporting, and are transmitted to colleges 3 times a week, as complete reports are made available.
Colleges receive ACT score reports according to the reporting method and schedule they select—at least every two weeks. For that reason, score reports requested at the same time may be sent to different colleges at different times. Most colleges receive scores only electronically and might not review priority reports. Other colleges may receive paper reports sent by first-class mail and delivered within a few days. It is not unusual, however, for there to be some time between when a college receives your report and when the scores are added to your admissions file.
You can ask ACT to verify your multiple-choice and/or your writing test scores up to 12 months after your test date. Please download the Request for Score Verification (PDF; 2 pages). You will need to print the completed form and mail to:
ACT Student Services
PO Box 414
Iowa City, IA 52243-0414, USA
Include your name as given at the time of testing, address, and date of birth, as well as your ACT ID, test date (month and year), and test location from your score report. Enclose a check payable to ACT Student Services for the applicable fee:
- $55.00 multiple-choice tests
- $55.00 writing test essay
- $110.00 both the multiple-choice tests and writing test essay
For multiple-choice tests, ACT will verify that your responses were checked against the correct score key.
For writing tests, ACT will verify that your essay was scored by at least two independent, qualiﬁed readers and by a third reader in the event that the two scores differed by more than one point in any domain. ACT will also verify that your essay was properly captured and displayed to readers. If errors are discovered during score veriﬁcation, ACT will rescore your essay.
ACT will inform you by letter of the results of the score veriﬁcation about three to ﬁve weeks after receiving your request. If a scoring error is discovered, your scores will be changed and corrected reports will be released to you and all previous score report recipients at no charge. In addition, your score veriﬁcation fee will be refunded.
You may also request to be present for veriﬁcation of your multiple-choice responses—without access to the test questions—at an ACT-designated location. Additional fees will apply.
If, after you receive your score report, you find that you made a significant error in the information you supplied to us about yourself, you may ask us to correct your record. Write to ACT, P.O. Box 451, Iowa City, IA 52243-0451, USA, within three months after receiving your score report. Enclose a photocopy or printed PDF of your Student Report describing the error and the change you are requesting.
There is no fee for making the correction, but you must pay the applicable fee for each corrected report you want sent.
You should also contact the admissions office at the colleges where ACT sent your score reports and make sure they have matched your score report with your application.
To delete your scores for a particular test date, you must submit a written request. Provide us with your name and home address, and we will mail you a form to complete and return to us. We will then permanently remove your record for that test date from our files. All scores from that test date will be deleted.
ACT Institutional Services
P.O. Box 168
Iowa City, IA 52243-0168
The ACT ID is an eight-digit number beginning with a dash that is located at the top of your Student Report and also appears on the score reports we send to the high school and to any colleges you requested. The ACT ID helps us identify your record and allows you to access and order ACT services. (For example, if you wish to send your scores, correct information on your score reports, or create an ACT web account.)
Colleges have different procedures regarding application materials. Some colleges will keep ACT scores for a short time to match with additional application materials; some, however, prefer to have your application before they receive a score report. Because these requirements differ greatly among the thousands of colleges to which we send score reports, we aren't able to provide students with information about a specific college's practices. Please contact the college directly to learn its preferences.
On a subsequent retest, ACT will report both your ACT Superscore, as well as the scores from that specific test date.If you have taken the ACT more than once, we maintain a separate record for each test date
Yes. The high school and colleges to which ACT reports your scores will be able to view an image of your essay online. The image of your essay will remain available for them to access for up to one year after you graduate from high school.
How can we help you?
- Please note, telephone hold times increase near deadlines
- Agents are available on ACT test dates.
Email us after you've taken the test if you:
Have a question about your ACT scores
Email us anytime if you:
Have a question about your ACT web account or uploading a photo
Have a question about your bill from ACT
ACT Customer Care
P.O. Box 414
Iowa City, IA 52243-0414
Testing with Accommodations
Students previously approved to test with accommodations at a regularly scheduled test center can register to test again with the same accommodations from their ACT Student Web Account.
Email Typical response in 2 business days
Phone 1-(319) 337-1332 M-F 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM GMT-6
- Please note, telephone hold times increase near deadlines.
- Customer Care agents are available on ACT test dates.
ACT Test Accommodations
301 ACT Drive, P.O. Box 168
Iowa City, IA 52243-0168
Questions or Complaints About a Test Center or Test Conditions
We will automatically initiate an investigation if your submission is received within two weeks of the test experience.
ACT Test Administration and Accommodations
301 ACT Drive, P.O. Box 168
Iowa City, IA 52243-0168