Registering for the ACT and What to Bring on Test Day

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  • 0:02 ACT Logistics
  • 0:58 Registration
  • 3:20 Test Day
  • 5:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

Don't let the little things stand in your way: learn how to register for the ACT online and what you'll need to bring to the test center when test day finally arrives.

ACT Logistics

On the ACT, test-taking skills will take you everywhere… once you're inside the test room. But what if you forget your ID at the door and you can't even get in? Uh-oh! Administrative issues like that can really wreck your whole day. But here's the good news: a little bit of planning ahead can save you from all that pain.

In this lesson, we'll go over the details of registering for the test and what to bring on test day to make sure everything goes smoothly. You'll even learn some history in the process because there's a perfect example of what not to do straight out of your U.S. history textbook: George McClellan.

George McClellan was nothing if not thorough; his organizational skills were legendary. But unfortunately, he was also a chronic procrastinator, and when it comes to the ACT, procrastination is a cardinal sin. So, watch on to find out how to keep the logistical skills, but skip the part where the President personally fires you because you just can't get anything done.


Before you take the ACT, you have to deal with registration, the process of signing up for the test. The ACT is held six times a year with the test dates spread out across the whole year. The registration deadline for each test is typically around one month before the test. If you want to pay a late fee, you can still sign up until two weeks before the test, but the ACT is expensive enough as it is: save your wallet and get in early. You got that, General?

In fact, it's even better to register further than one month ahead of time because registration is also when you pick your test center. In most areas, you'll be able to choose from several different locations to take the test, and it's always better to get somewhere close and familiar so you don't have to start off your test day with a long drive to some strange new place. But popular test centers fill up fast and the seats are first-come, first-served, so make sure you come first!

You can register for the ACT by mail if you really want to, but the vast majority of students would rather go online. To register online, you'll need:

  • A photo of yourself. This should basically look like an ID photo: your head and shoulders against a plain background.
  • A list of four colleges that you want to receive your scores. The ACT gives you four freebie score reports, so take advantage of them; otherwise, you have to pay extra.
  • A credit card to pay for the test. Your fees will depend on what options you pick, but even for the bare necessities, the ACT is a pretty pricey test. If it's too far out of your budget, talk to your school's guidance office about a fee waiver.

Once you have all that, you'll go to the ACT website, make an account, upload your photo, and fill in all of your personal information. You'll also have to decide whether you want to take the writing test or not. For most college-bound students, the answer to this should be yes. Unless you have a specific reason not to, just sign up for it (you can always change it later). Once you're done with that, you'll pay and get your admission ticket to print out. Print this and keep it somewhere safe: you'll need it to get into the test.

Once you've registered, you can log back in to the ACT website to add or remove the writing test from your registration, add or remove colleges that will receive your scores, or change your address. You can also change your test date or test center for a fee - but again, do this as soon as you realize you need to. Don't put it off! Otherwise President Lincoln might fire you in front of all of your friends, and that's just embarrassing, eh, General?

Test Day

So, after getting everything done on time, you've finally arrived at test day without even paying any extra fees. Way to go.

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