When should you take the ACT?

The ACT is offered seven times per year, in September, October, December, February, April, and June.  Students typically take the ACT in the winter and spring of their junior year and/or the fall of their senior year.  Deciding when you should take the ACT involves a number of factors.


Take the ACT when you are ready.

The most important consideration is to take the ACT when you are ready.  In other words, take the test when you feel that you have prepared sufficiently and are capable of getting the score you need to get into the schools you will be applying to.  It is typically not worth taking the test “just for practice” if you are not truly ready, as such practice could just as easily be gained by taking practice tests under strictly timed conditions.


Give yourself the opportunity to take the test multiple times.

Many students take the ACT two, three, or even more times.  Taking the test multiple times can be a great idea, as it gives you a chance work on your weaknesses and improve your score.  If you hope to take the test more than once, it is definitely a good idea to take the test for the first time during your junior year.


Take the test earlier if you hope to apply early action or early decision to one or more colleges.

Most early action and early decision deadlines are in November, so the October ACT is the last ACT that will be considered for early action and early decision at most schools.  If you hope to apply early, be sure to have your testing done early as well.


Take the test when the Test Information Release (TIR) is offered.

The Test Information Release (TIR) allows students to purchase from the ACT a copy of their test booklet along with a list of their answers and the correct answers.  The TIR is offered three times per year on standard Saturday administrations of the test, in April, June, and December.  The TIR is an invaluable tool in preparing for future tests, so it can be a good reason to take the ACT in April, June, or December.  In particular, many juniors who wish to get an early start take the ACT in December primarily because they will be able to get their test back to help them prepare for tests later in the year.  Once you get your TIR back, visit AnswerExplanations.com for answer explanations to every single question.  Use our explanations to master the concepts that gave you trouble, and be ready to do even better next time.


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