ACT Test Day
Everything you need to know for the day of the test.
What to Bring on Test Day
Prepare for test day by knowing what to bring and what to leave at home!
Bring This, Not That
Print a copy of your admission ticket to bring to the test center. Your ticket contains important registration match information or your online launch code.
Acceptable Photo identification
Acceptable photo identification is required to be admitted to the test center. You will not be admitted to test if your ID does not meet ACT requirements.
Number 2 pencil
Bring sharpened, 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.
Watch or Other Timing Device
You may bring a watch, timer, or stopwatch to pace yourself during testing, but it may not have an alarm. Your watch or other timing device must be removed and placed on your desk while in the test room, so that it remains visible to staff during the test. If an alarm sounds, you’ll be dismissed and your test will not be scored.
Bring a permitted calculator to be used on the mathematics test only. You are not required to use a calculator at all, but if you do, it
is your responsibility to know whether your calculator is permitted.
You may bring a snack to eat outside the testing room during break.
Don't bring any of these; you can't access them:
- Textbooks, foreign language or other dictionaries, scratch paper, notes, or other aids
- Highlighter pens, colored pens or pencils, or correction fluid/tape
- Any electronic device, other than a permitted calculator and acceptable watch or timing device
- Reading material
- Tobacco in any form
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, Wi-Fi, 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 it activates or alarms 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.
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.
ACT recommends bringing a permitted calculator you are familiar with to be used on the mathematics test only. If you test online, a calculator is available in the test platform, but you may still bring a calculator to use. It is your responsibility to know whether your calculator is permitted.
Acceptable Forms of ID
Current official photo ID
Must be an original, current (valid) ID issued by a city/state/federal government agency or your school.
ID must be in hard plastic card format. Paper or electronic formats are NOT acceptable.
You must use the name on your ID to register to test and the photo ID 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. This document must be fully completed by a school official or notary public; neither may be a relative.
Unacceptable Forms of ID
You will not be admitted to test 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
- 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
- LA Wallet
- Learner's driving permit (if it doesn't include a photo)
- 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
How Long Does the ACT Take?
The ACT consists of four multiple-choice tests in English, mathematics, reading, and science. The four multiple-choice sections contain 215 questions and take 2 hours and 55 minutes to complete. After the mathematics test, You will be given a 15-minute break.
If you take the optional writing test you will have 40 minutes to complete the essay and will receive an additional 5-minute break before the writing portion begins.
How Long is Each Section of the ACT?
Each section of the ACT varies in length and number of questions. The sections are designed to measure skills that are most important for success in postsecondary education and that are acquired in secondary education.
Here is a breakdown of each section of the ACT:
|Test||Number of Questions||Minutes Per Test||What This Section Measures|
|English||75||45||The ability to make decisions to revise and edit short texts and essays in different genres.|
|Mathematics||60||60||The mathematical skills you have typically
acquired in courses up to the beginning of grade 12.
|Reading||40||35||The ability to read closely, reason logically about texts using evidence, and integrate information from multiple resources.|
|Science||40||35||The interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required in biology, chemistry, Earth/space sciences and physics.|
|Writing (optional)||1 essay||40||Writing skills taught in high school English classes and in entry-level college composition courses. This section is optional.|
Your scores will be based only on the number of questions that you answer correctly; there is no penalty for guessing. Try to answer every question within the time limit allowed for each section. Keep in mind the optional writing test will not affect your composite score.
What to Expect on Test Day
What time does the ACT start?
We know test day can be stressful, so we recommend giving yourself plenty of time. Plan to arrive at the test center no later than 8:00 a.m. As you arrive, testing staff will confirm your registration against your ID, and assign you to your designated seat in a test room. You will NOT be admitted to the test if you are late.
Plan for your Test Morning
- Dress comfortably. Consider dressing in layers, so you'll be comfortable.
- Arrive by 8:00 am.
- 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.
- If possible, travel to the test center on a non-test day to plan your travel time.
Arriving at the Test Center
- Testing staff will check your photo ID during check-in. Be ready to begin testing after all on-time examinees are checked in.
- Please note that ACT may visit test centers to conduct enhanced test security procedures. Testing staff may use an electronic device or paper materials to administer the test.
During the Test
- Once you break the seal on your test booklet, or use your launch code, you cannot 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).
- 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.
- During your registration process, you will agree to the ACT Terms and Conditions, which contains detailed information about prohibited behavior. On test day, you will once again be asked to agree to the Terms and Conditions.
Taking a Break
- A short break is scheduled after the second test. Using cell phones or any electronic devices during the break is prohibited. You may eat or drink outside the test room during the break.
- If you take the ACT with writing, you will have a five minute before the writing test to relax and sharpen your pencils.
- After the science test you should expect to take a shorter, multiple-choice test covering one of the previous subject areas. The results of the fifth test help develop future test questions and will not be reflected on your scores, so please try your best.
- If you do not want your test to be scored, you must tell a member of the testing staff before you leave the test center. If you do not, your test will be scored.
What time does the ACT end?
If you take the ACT (no writing) you will finish around 12:35 p.m. If you take the ACT with writing you will typically finish at about 1:35 p.m.
- 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.
- Also remember that cheating hurts everyone. If you see it, report it.
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.
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.
Unexpected Registration Changes
Infrequently, ACT may be notified by the test center of a change that could unexpectedly affect your registration. We do our best to minimize the impact to your test experience, however, we may have to update your testing location or update your test format between paper and online testing to ensure your ability to test.
If a change must be made to your registration, an email will be sent to notify you.
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.
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).
Cheating hurts everyone– if you see it, report it through the Test Security Hotline.
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.
Everyone deserves the chance to show what they have learned. ACT has designed its testing procedures to give everyone 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.
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 prints on the student's ticket. In addition to their ticket, students 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.
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.