When to Take the ACT

The ACT is considered a test of junior-level curriculum, so it’s wise to take the test in the spring of your junior year, when the material from your courses is still current and easily remembered. The spring administrations of the ACT occur in February, April, and June, so choose the test date that works best with your schedule. If you are also planning on taking the SAT, keep in mind that it is offered in March, May, and June, so that you can stagger your test dates and thus set your study time for each test.

Although PowerScore recommends taking the ACT during your junior year, you must be fully prepared prior to taking the test. It is advisable to complete or nearly complete Algebra, Algebra II/Trigonometry, Geometry, and a basic grammar course prior to registering for the ACT. Practice tests should be taken at home or in a preparation course, not in an official ACT administration where your scores are noted on your permanent record. You can find a free practice test on the ACT website; we recommend that you print this test and complete it under timed conditions. The test will not only introduce you to the concepts on the ACT, but also provide a base score, which will indicate whether you are ready for the real exam. If you find that you need additional help, you may want to look into a preparation course or private tutoring – PowerScore offers a variety of options to help you master the test.

If your spring score does not meet your expectations, you have several more testing opportunities during the fall of your senior year. In fact, most experts recommend taking the test two or three times, since you are able to select which test scores to send to prospective colleges. The ACT is offered again in September, October, and December, while the SAT is offered in October, November, and December. (Remember, if you are taking both tests, try to stagger your test dates.) If you choose to retake the ACT, seriously consider an ACT preparation course to help ensure a stronger performance on your subsequent test. Students in PowerScore's Full-Length Course are guaranteed a 5 point minimum increase, while students in the weekend course are guaranteed a 3 point minimum increase.

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