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Test Day

Everything you need to know for the day of the test

What to Bring (and Not to Bring) on Test Day  

Help yourself be calm and prepared for test day by knowing what you can and cannot bring into the test room with you.  

Bring This, Not That  

  • Bring a printed copy of your ticket to the test center. You will not be admitted to test if you do not have a printed copy of your ticket. If you have lost your ticket, you can print another through your ACT web account. 
  • Bring acceptable photo identification. You will not be admitted to test if your ID does not meet ACT requirements. 
  • Bring sharpened, soft lead No. 2 pencils with good erasers (no mechanical pencils or ink pens). Do not bring any other writing instruments; you will not be allowed to use them. If you are registered for the ACT with writing, your essay must also be completed in pencil. 
  • Bring a watch to pace yourself, but do not bring a watch with an alarm. If your alarm sounds during testing, you’ll be dismissed and your answers will not be scored. No watch? No problem. The supervisor in standard time rooms will announce when you have five minutes remaining on each test. 
  • Bring a permitted calculator to 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). To make it even easier to figure out, you are not required to use a calculator at all. 

Don’t bring these into the test room; you can’t use them!  

  • Textbooks, foreign language or other dictionaries, scratch paper, notes, or other aids 
  • Highlight pens, colored pens or pencils, or correction fluid/tape 
  • Any electronic device, other than a permitted calculator (this includes your mobile phone, smart watch, fitness band, media player, iPad, headphones, and camera) 
  • Reading material 
  • Tobacco in any form 
  • Food or beverages, including water (you will be offered a break outside of the test room)  
  • Prohibited devices

Prohibited devices: ACT reminds you that upon registration, you agreed to the Terms and Conditions: Testing Rules and Policies for the ACT (PDF). In particular, we’d like to bring your attention to the prohibited use of cell phones and electronic devices. The prohibited use of devices is in effect from the time you are admitted to your testing room until you are dismissed at the end of the test, including break times. Specifically:  

  • You may not handle or access a cell phone or electronic device at any time in the testing room or during break times. This includes smart watches, fitness bands, and any other devices with recording, internet, or communication capabilities.
  • All devices, including cell phones and wearable devices, must be turned off and placed out of sight.
  • If you access your device or if your device activates while in the testing room or during break times, you will be dismissed, your test will not be scored, and your phone or device may be taken away.

Acceptable Forms of Identification  

Only the following forms of identification are acceptable. If it is not on this list, it is not acceptable, and you will not be admitted to test.  

Current official photo ID

Must be an original, current (valid) ID issued by a city/state/federal government agency or your school. Note: School ID must be in hard plastic card format. Paper or electronic formats are NOT acceptable. Your first and last names must match the ticket. The photo must be clearly recognizable as you. 

ACT Student Identification Form with photo  

You MUST present this ACT Student Identification Form (PDF) with photo if you do not have a current official photo ID as described above. It must be completed by a school official or notary public; neither may be a relative. All items must be completed. 

ACT Talent Search Student Identification Form 

If you are participating in an Academic Talent Search program and were not required to submit a photo with your registration you must present your ACT Talent Search Identification form. If you are participating in an Academic Talent Search program and were required to submit a photo when you registered, you must present either a current official photo ID or an ACT Student Identification Form with photo. 

Unacceptable Forms of Identification  

You will not be admitted if you present any forms of ID other than those listed as acceptable. The following are examples of unacceptable identification:  

  • ACT ticket alone 
  • Birth certificate 
  • ChildFind ID card 
  • Credit, charge, bank or check cashing cards, even with photo 
  • Diploma 
  • Family portrait or graduation picture, even if the name is imprinted on the photo 
  • Fishing or hunting license 
  • ID issued by an employer 
  • ID letter that is not an official ACT identification form 
  • Learner's driving permit (if it doesn't include a photo) 
  • Temporary/replacement driver's license (if it doesn't include a photo) 
  • Organization membership card 
  • Passport or other photo ID so old that the person presenting it cannot be identified 
  • Personal recognition by anyone, including members of the test center staff, classmates, parents, counselors, and teachers 
  • Photo ID of parents 
  • Photo with your name embossed or printed on it by a photographer 
  • Photocopies or reproductions 
  • Photos issued by a business for promotional purposes (e.g., amusement parks) 
  • Police report of a stolen wallet or purse 
  • Printed, stamped, or photocopied signatures 
  • Published photo, including yearbook or newspaper 
  • Report card 
  • Social Security card 
  • Telephone calls to counselors, teachers, or school officials 
  • Traffic ticket, even with a physical description and signature 
  • Transcript, even with photo 
  • Web page with photo 


It's Go Time

Good sleep? Check. Good breakfast? Check. Review our Test Day Checklist and get ready to test. 

Leaving the House 

  • Dress comfortably. Some test centers are warmer or cooler on weekends than during the week. Consider dressing in layers, so you'll be comfortable no matter what the room conditions are.
  • If you're unsure where your test center is located, do a practice run to see how to get there and what time you'll need to leave to arrive by 8:00 a.m.
  • If you arrive earlier than 7:45 a.m., you might have to wait outside until testing staff complete their arrangements.
  • Bring snacks or drinks to consume outside the test room only during the break.

Arriving at the Test Center

  • Report to your assigned test center by the Reporting Time (usually 8:00 a.m.) listed on your ticket. You will NOT be admitted to test if you are late.
  • Testing staff will check your photo ID and ticket, admit you to your test room, direct you to a seat, and provide test materials.
  • Be ready to begin testing after all examinees present at 8:00 a.m. are checked in and seated.
  • Please note that ACT may visit test centers to conduct enhanced test security procedures including, but not limited to, collecting images of examinees during check-in or other security activities on test day.

During the Test

  • Once you break the seal on your test booklet, you cannot later request a Test Date Change, even if you do not complete all your tests.
  • A permitted calculator 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).
  • If your calculator has characters one inch high or larger, or a raised display, testing staff may seat you where no others can see the display.
  • Do not engage in any prohibited behavior at the test center. If you do, you will be dismissed and your answer document will not be scored. For more details about prohibited behavior at the test center, please see Terms and Conditions (PDF).  Note: For National and International Testing, you will be asked to sign a statement on the front cover of your test booklet agreeing to this policy. 
  • Also remember that cheating hurts everyone. If you see it, report it.

Taking a Break 

  • A short break is scheduled after the first two tests. You will not be allowed to use cell phones or any electronic devices during the break, and you may not eat or drink anything in the test room.
  • If you take the ACT with writing, you will have time before the writing test to relax and sharpen your pencils.

Finishing Up 

  • Students taking the ACT (no writing) with standard time are normally dismissed about 12:15 p.m.; students taking the ACT with writing are normally dismissed about 1:15 p.m. 
  • On some test dates, ACT tries out questions to develop future versions of the tests. You may be asked to take a fifth test, the results of which will not be reflected in your reported scores. The fifth test could be multiple-choice or one for which you will create your own answers. Please try your best on these questions, because your participation can help shape the future of the ACT. If you are in a test room where the fifth test is administered, you will be dismissed at about 12:35 p.m. 
  • If you do not complete all your tests for any reason, tell a member of the testing staff whether or not you want your answer document scored before you leave the test center. If you do not, all tests attempted will be scored. 

 

ACT Test Security  

You’ve worked hard to prepare for the ACT, and that’s a big deal. We’re also working hard to ensure everyone has a fair and equal opportunity to demonstrate their academic achievement.  

Security Measures

We regularly review preventive measures to ensure every reasonable effort is made to deter and detect potential compromises to test security, while still enabling the greatest possible access for students. Our security measures include:  

  • Students upload or otherwise submit (via ACT website, mobile device, or mail) a recognizable head-and-shoulders photo of themselves when registering for the ACT  
  • In addition to submitting a photo, students must provide ACT with their gender and identify the name of the high school they attend. ACT will use this information to help match the examinee’s identity throughout the testing process. 
  • The student's photo is printed on the examinee roster that testing staff use to check in students on test day.  
  • The photo also prints on the student's ticket, which the student must bring to the test center in order to be admitted. In addition to their ticket, students must bring and present an acceptable photo ID on test day.  
  • On test day, test center staff match the name and photo on the student’s ticket, the test center roster, and the student’s photo ID to the student who arrives to take the test before granting the student admission.  
  • Both before and after testing, students provide written affirmation that they are the person whose name appears on the test booklet and answer sheet which they have submitted. They also acknowledge that assuming anyone else’s identity to take the test may be a violation of law and be subject to legal penalty.  
  • ACT may visit test centers to conduct additional test security measures on test day, such as collecting images of examinees during check-in and/or other security activities.  
  • After tests have been scored, the student’s photo will be printed on the score report that is automatically sent to the high school attended by the student. Score integrity can then be reinforced by the people who know the students best—the teachers and counselors at their schools.  
  • To deter attempts to circumvent these procedures, students (including those who hope to test on a standby basis) will be required to register their intent to test and will not be allowed to make any test center or test date changes on the day of the test.   

Prohibited Behavior at the Test Center

To ensure fairness for all examinees, avoid disturbances in the testing room, and protect the security of the test materials, certain behaviors are prohibited at the test center. You will be dismissed and your answer document will not be scored if you are found engaging in any of these behaviors. For more information view the Prohibited Behavior at the Test Center section of the Terms and Conditions (PDF).

Calculator Policy

The ACT calculator policy is designed to ensure fairness for all examinees, avoid disturbances in the testing room, and protect the security of the test materials. For more information view the latest Calculator Policy (PDF).

Test Security Hotline 

Cheating hurts everyone– if you see it, report it.

Students who don't do their own work put honest students at a disadvantage. Whether it's using a cheat sheet, copying someone else's work, or sending another person to take the test, we all feel cheated when someone tries to game the system.  

All examinees deserve the chance to show what he or she has learned. ACT has designed its testing procedures to give you and other honest students an equal opportunity to demonstrate your own academic achievement on a fair and equal playing field.  

If you suspect that someone is trying to take unfair advantages or encounter anything else out of the ordinary, please report it to ACT. You can make an anonymous report about test security concerns by using the Test Security Hotline.

Keep the ACT fair. Report cheating and comply with all testing rules.  

Why We Do This  

Our test security procedures are designed to ensure that examinees have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their academic achievement and skills, that examinees who do their own work are not unfairly disadvantaged by examinees who do not, and that scores reported for each examinee are valid. 

Related Information

Can Scores be Cancelled?

Terms and Conditions - Compromises/Disruptions in the Testing Process (PDF)

Unexpected Changes 

Rescheduled Test Centers 

Occasionally, a test center must cancel a test administration due to bad weather or other unforeseen circumstances. When this occurs, the test will be rescheduled for a future date. Visit Rescheduled Test Centers to find out if your test center has been rescheduled and for more information about procedures.

 

Missed Your Test Date? 

Once you have submitted your registration to ACT, by any method, it cannot be canceled. For more information see Registration Changes.

 

Test Center Feedback

ACT welcomes feedback about your test day experience. Fill out the Test Center Feedback Form no later than 2 weeks after your test date.