How to register for the ACT

Tyler York
How to register for the ACT

Looking forward to taking the ACT?

Probably not, but you likely understand how important it is to your college application to have a competitive ACT score.  

But before you enroll in an ACT test prep course, have you signed up for the test itself? Surprisingly, many forget to do this step until the last minute. That’s why we wrote this post on how to register for the ACT.

We know that the overall process of prepping for the ACT can be daunting. You have to study while making sure that you juggle your school schedule on top of your ACT prep study schedule. Hopefully, though, you don’t forget to register first!

To help you with this, we created a step-by-step guide to walk you through the entire ACT registration process.

How to register for the ACT

Step 1: Sign Up

The quickest way to register for the ACT is by doing it online. The first step is to visit the ACT website. Second, click “Sign In” at the upper right portion then click “MyACT Sign In”.

Within that section, select “Create MyACT Account”. The next portion will ask you to choose from two options: “I registered or tested before” or “I’m new! Let’s get started”. Pick the option that’s applicable to you and fill out the fields with all the necessary information.

After providing your information, you will be asked to verify your registration via email or SMS. Complete this final step to finish the account creation process.

Why do you need to set up an account?

Having a MyACT account enables you to do things related to your scores and test registration. These include checking your scores online, making necessary adjustments to your registration details, and requesting score reports. These are just some privileges that you otherwise might not have if you don’t have a MyACT account.

A quick note: be sure to write down your name exactly how it appears on your acceptable IDs. On test day, test administrators will check if your account name matches that on your ID; if they don’t, you won’t be permitted to take the exam.

Step 2: Register

After creating your account, you may now proceed to registration. Click the “Register” button and answer the questions that will follow.

You would need to truthfully answer questions like:

  • Your testing date, schedule, and location
  • Voluntary information like whether you’re left- or right-handed (for appropriate desk allocation), your religious affiliations, disabilities (if any), and family background;
  • Your educational background, particularly the schools you’ve attended and specific courses you’ve taken
  • Your plans for college (your preferred school and program or majors; extra-curricular activities you want to engage in; future career plans, etc.)

After answering these questions, you will then be asked to upload a current headshot that’s within the prescribed size. Along with your accurate ID information, ACT personnel will make these as their basis in confirming your identity and preventing anyone from taking the test on your behalf. This is an important and required step – do not skip it!

Step 3: Pay fees

Once you’ve provided the above information, you would need to pay for ACT fees. You will receive your voucher number afterwards; key in this number on the appropriate field. Click “Submit”, and you’re done! You’re now officially registered for the ACT.

One more thing: don’t forget to print out your registration ticket! You’ll need to present this at the testing center on your ACT date.

prepare for the ACT
Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

Online vs. In-Person ACT: What Should I Choose?

At this point, you may be wondering what the differences are between the online and in-person ACT. The answer will depend mostly on your location.

if you’re based outside of the U.S. (Canada included), then you will be required to take the online version at an accredited test center. Whereas if you’re a student based in the U.S., you may also take the online version except that these may only be administered on school-day test dates, and not on national test dates.

While the ACT has traditionally been taken on paper, times are changing. ACT, Inc. is now taking steps to make it more accessible to students on a national scale. The main advantages of this is that the entire testing process is made more secure and that candidates can gain access to their scores within a shorter amount of time.

Here’s a guide to help you remember ACT, Inc.’s rules on ACT versions:

Type of StudentACT Modality
U.S. student taking the ACT on a national test datePaper only
International studentComputer-based only
U.S. student taking the ACT on a school-day test dateWill vary depending on which district/state their school is located

Whatever format you’ll take the ACT in, the exam structure will remain the same. They have the exact same test areas, time limits, number of questions, and scoring system. You’ll also be allowed to use an approved calculator and scratch papers in both. The only difference is the format through which the exam will be administered.

There are a few features that make the online ACT stand out. These features include the following: the visible timers and tools like highlighters; magnifiers; and line readers to help you throughout the exam. The toolbar even includes an answer eliminator, which allows you to cross out answers you think are incorrect.

Step 4: Selecting A Test Date

During your test prep, it’s also important to take note of ACT test dates and schedules. You may refer to the test dates below for 2022—2023 (applicable to students located in the United States, U.S. territories, and Puerto Rico):

ACT Test Dates for 2022 and 2023

YearTest DateDeadlines
RegistrationLate RegistrationStandby & Photo
2022September 10August 5August 19September 2
October 22September 16September 30October 14
December 10November 4November 11December 2
2023February 11January 6January 20February 3
April 15March 10March 24April 7
June 10May 5May 19June 2
July 15*June 16June 23July 7

No test centers are scheduled in New York for the July 2023 test date. See Non-Saturday Testing.  

If you missed the late registration deadline, you may request for standby testing. While you may not be immediately given a guaranteed schedule, your registration may be considered as long as there are seats still available.

Special Considerations

The ACT offers accommodations to anyone who’s covered by the standard definitions of disability in the Americans with Disabilities Act .If you’re a student who would need special assistance for the ACT, there are options you may consider depending on your need. 

To request for these accommodations, you should indicate a need for these upon registering for the ACT. After registering, you will receive an email from ACT containing instructions on how to submit a request for accommodations in ACT’s Test Accessibility and Accommodations System (TAA), with the assistance of a school official.

In the absence of an IEP or 504 Plan, you must be able to submit substantial information as proof of any limitation that would warrant special assistance during the test. You may refer to ACT’s Criteria for Diagnostic Documentation and Documentation by Type of Disability for more details on qualifications. You may also take a look at ACT’s policies for requesting accommodations here.

Done! Here’s how to register for the ACT in review

So there you have it — the ACT registration steps. We highly suggest that you register immediately as soon as you’ve decided on a test date and schedule so you don’t forget about it along the way. Once you’ve officially registered, all you need to do is focus on your ACT test prep and study with peace of mind.

Here’s a checklist of what you’ll need to register:

  1. Computer with stable internet connectivity
  2. ACT student web account
  3. Your high school course details
  4. Your recent photo that meets ACT’s photo submission requirements
  5. Credit card/other modes of payment to pay for the registration fee

When registering, determine first if the college/university you’re applying at requires candidates to take the ACT’s writing portion (the ACT can be taken with or without this; it will just depend whether you’ll need it or not). Don’t forget to print out your test center ticket after registering — you’ll need to present this at the testing center on your ACT date.

If you missed the late registration deadline, you may request for standby testing. While you may not be immediately given a guaranteed schedule, your registration may be considered as long as there are seats still available.

One more thing to note: scores for the multiple-choice exams are usually released 2 weeks after the national test date. Sometimes, though, it can take up to 8 weeks before these are available. Writing scores often follow 2 weeks after your multiple-choice scores.

What to Do on Test Day

The moment you’ve been preparing yourself for weeks now has finally arrived: your ACT test day.

Here are some of the best things you can do before the exam. You may also check out our handy guide on how to prepare for the ACT and another on test taking tips!

On test day, don’t bring cell phones or any prohibited electronic device — doing so may result in your dismissal from the testing venue and invalidation of your scores. Be sure to bring the following:

  • Your test center ticket
  • Acceptable forms of identification
  • Two (2) #2 pencils
  • Permitted calculator
  • Watch without an alarm
  • Snacks (for when that much-needed break time comes!)

Be at the testing center ahead of time. The venue opens at 7:45 a.m. and closes at 8:00 a.m. sharp — you will not be admitted if you’re late. The exam officially starts once you break the seal on your booklet.

The ACT covers 4 areas: English, math, reading, and science. However, don’t be surprised if you encounter a fifth test portion or additional items within the 4 areas — annually, the ACT tries out new questions that serve as their bases to develop future tests. These are not reflected in your final test score.

You’ll have your break once you finish the first 2 tests, during which you’ll be allowed to leave the room. Keep in mind though that using electronic devices is still prohibited at this point. You will be dismissed after the test administrator collects all test booklets.

Be on time; Be on Schedule!

Avoid hassle and select the ACT test date that works best for you as soon as possible. Just follow all the steps we’ve listed above, stay calm and prepared, and ace that ACT!

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