When Should You Take the ACT?

ACT Prep

The ACT is administered six times a year in the U.S., U.S. territories, Puerto Rico, and Canada: February, April, June, September, October, and December. Outside of these areas, the test is given five times a year: February, April, June, October, and December.

All of these administrations have the same level of difficulty and the same structure, and cover the same types of materials. Because the ACT is considered a junior-level test (meaning that it tests material that is generally acknowledged to be covered in 11th grade in the US educational system), we recommend that you take your first ACT in the spring of your junior year, while this material is still fresh in your mind. The ACT, as mentioned above, is offered in February, April, and June—any of those administrations would work well for students taking the test in the spring of their junior year.

Although we recommend that you take the test the spring of your junior year, you must be sure that you are fully prepared prior to taking the test, and have covered the necessary material in your classes. Before taking the ACT, we recommend that you complete Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Biology, and Chemistry; in addition, it might be to your advantage to have also completed Trigonometry and Physics. Before deciding if you are prepared to take the ACT, start by taking a practice test (available for free from the ACT website), and also take a look at the types of questions you will be asked on the test (which you can also view for free on the ACT website). Doing this will let you know if your material knowledge is sufficient to perform well on the test.

If you aren’t happy with your spring ACT score, you can still take the test in the fall of your senior year. Many students take the test multiple times; the September and October testing dates are particularly popular. If you’re considering taking the December test, make sure your college(s) accept the results of the test; for some, the results may be released too late to be considered.