Test Day for the ACT
Students taking the ACT on one of the national test dates are required to arrive at the test center no later than 8:00 AM. The sign-in procedure for test-takers typically takes about 30 minutes, meaning that the exam itself will commence at about 8:30. The ACT sections are always administered in the same order, the first two of which are English (45 minutes; approximately 8:30-9:15) and Math (60 minutes; 9:15-10:15). Afterwards, students are given a short break. The test resumes with the Reading section (35 minutes; approximately 10:30-11:05), and the Science section (35 minutes; 11:05-11:40) immediately follows. Students opting for the Writing section are given another short break before that 40-minute assessment (about 11:45-12:25). With the test collection procedures, students can expect to finish around 12:30 PM, or at approximately 11:45 if they are sitting for the four required sections only. Test-takers at school district-specific ACT administrations will have the same overall sequence of events, but the exam will begin at the normal starting time for the school day.
Test-takers who are relaxed and comfortable are most likely to receive their highest possible test scores, and relaxation and comfort can be facilitated by advance preparation. Before the day of the exam, students should make sure that they are familiar with the route they will drive to the test center as well as the parking situation and early-morning traffic conditions. We advise students to make plans for early arrival on test day (about 7:30 AM or so) to account for any possible contingencies (e.g. traffic or long admission lines). Students who arrive at the test center late will be denied admission. It is also essential to pack all of the necessary supplies the night before the exam, because this is a task that will be much more stressful if it is completed the morning of the test.
Students should bring their admission ticket, identification, no. 2 pencils with erasers, watch, calculator, and snacks (eating and drinking will be allowed only during breaks). The admission ticket and appropriate identification are required, and students who do not have these items will not be allowed to take the test. Watches and calculators must be of the approved types (devices that have internet access, data storage capabilities, or alarms are not allowed). All other items, including books, phones, laptops, and tablets, are prohibited at the test center. Possession of any banned items while taking the ACT will result in dismissal from the test center and cancellation of scores.
While taking the ACT, students must work only on the designated section; they may not go back and change answers for sections completed earlier or move ahead to later sections. Test-takers who finish a section early must sit quietly in their seats and wait until time has expired and they have been instructed to begin a new section. Students may not look at or copy answers from another test-taker, and they may not give or receive assistance of any kind. Using any electronic devices (other than approved watches and calculators) is not allowed, and test-takers also must agree not to disclose test questions or answers to anyone, either verbally or electronically. All students entering the test center are subject to search, which is typically conducted with hand-held metal detectors. Banned items may be temporarily confiscated. Violators are punished by cancellation of scores, forfeiture of registration fees, and (if the violations are sufficiently severe) bans on future registration.
Test-taker photographs help improve test security and prevent identity fraud (taking the test under someone else's name). Students are required to upload photographs at registration, and these photos appear on test center rosters and admission tickets. During the sign-in period, test center staff members check to make sure that the photos on rosters, admission tickets, and identification documents match.
ACT allows students to cancel the reporting of their test scores to previously named postsecondary institutions or other organizations, but the deadline to do so is less than one week after the date of the test and before the test-taker will be aware of his or her scores. Students may also order score reports for additional universities, although they will be charged for this service.