SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

How Long Does It Take to Get ACT Scores Back?

Posted by Rebecca Safier | Aug 21, 2015 5:40:00 PM
 

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After you take the ACT, the anticipation isn't over! Now you have to wait to find out your scores. While they're not available immediately, you don't have to wait too long to see your scores or have them sent to colleges.

This guide will go over when you can expect to see your ACT scores by each upcoming test date, as well as the differences in score release dates for students who took the ACT with Writing.

 

How Long Do You Have to Wait for Your ACT Scores?

How long does it take to get ACT scores back? Not too long! Unlike the SAT, score release dates actually vary for students over a range of weeks. Most students, though, will get their multiple choice scores just two weeks after taking the exam.

Scores are often released on a Wednesday or Friday, so they'll show up just 10 or more days after your Saturday morning test. They usually come out at 1 AM Eastern Time, midnight Central Time, or 10 PM Pacific Time.

For any students whose scores aren't released on that day, they should check back weekly. Scores are released on a weekly basis, and all of them should be out within 8 weeks of your test date. Students who test outside of the domestic U.S. usually have to wait about 3 weeks to see their multiple choice scores.

If you opted to take the ACT with Writing, then your essay score will be added a little later, about two weeks after your multiple choice scores. While your scores may become available in these two installments, your colleges won't receive your ACT score report until all scores have been finalized and released (multiple choice and Writing together).

Once all your scores are ready, the ACT will release your official Student Score Report, High School Score Report, and College Score Report. Again, most students testing in the U.S. will get their multiple choice scores on a Wednesday or Friday two weeks after they test, while a small number will have to wait one or a few weeks longer until theirs are ready.

Do you know when you plan to take the ACT? If so, you can use the chart below to find your testing date and the earliest corresponding date you'll get your scores.

 

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When Will Your Scores Be Released by Test Date?

The following ranges of dates indicate when your multiple choice ACT scores will become available to you to view online from your ACT account. If you took the ACT with Writing, then your colleges won't get score reports until your essays have been graded. These are the range of dates when most students get their scores, but if yours haven't shown up it doesn't necessarily indicate a problem. 

 

ACT Test

National or International Test Dates

Multiple-Choice Scores Posted Online

September Test 9/10/2016 September 20, 2016 – November 4, 2016
October Test 10/22/2016 November 8, 2016 – December 27, 2016
December Test 12/10/2016 December 20, 2016 – February 3, 2017
February Test 2/11/2017 February 22, 2017 – April 7, 2017
April Test 4/8/2017 April 18, 2017 – June 2, 2017
June Test 6/10/2017 June 20, 2017 – August 4, 2017

 

As I mentioned, most students will get their scores on the earliest release date, or at least within this range, but some won't. Then you still have to wonder, "When will I get my ACT scores?" What are some reasons you'd have to wait longer?

 

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What If Your Scores Aren't Released?

There are a few reasons why your scores would come out later than the above dates. One is simply that the ACT has a lot of tests to grade and process, and they're running behind. Some other reasons include,

  • your documents were delivered late to testing headquarters
  • your test date was rescheduled
  • the personal information you wrote on your test doesn't match up with the info you provided during registration (happens more than you might think)
  • ACT detected an irregularity with your test scores or at your testing center
  • ACT randomly audited your test to check for scoring accuracy
  • you owe registration fees.

What does it mean that the ACT could detect an irregularity with your scores? If you improve by an unusually large number of points between test administrations, then the ACT might take notice and check for possible signs of cheating. If they really think something is amiss, then you'll contact you and might invite you to send "evidence" of your studying.

To prepare for this rare circumstance (maybe you didn't study at all for your first ACT and then did a ton of prep for your second), you should make sure to keep evidence of your test prep and write out your work in your test booklet. This is rare, but it can take a really long time to clear up, which you may or may not have depending on your college deadlines. In the worst case outcome, ACT will cancel your scores altogether and you'll have to retest. 

Make sure to have your user name and password handy on score release day, and find out if others have gotten their scores through word-of-mouth and discussion forums, like on College Confidential. If you think there was some unusual delay with your scores, take action and contact ACT to find out what's going on. Otherwise, check back weekly, rather than everyday, since scores are released on Tuesdays.

Once you do receive your results, what do you do next?

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What to Do When You Receive Your Scores

It's a good idea to check your ACT scores the day they come out, so you can decide whether you're happy with your scores or want the opportunity to retest. If you are satisfied and need to send additional score reports to colleges, you should do this asap, too.

The decision to retest depends on a number of factors. What are your target scores? How much prep have you done, and how much time do you have to prep again and retest? Have you already taken the test a bunch of times, or are you just getting started? Obviously all this is a moot point if your college deadlines are just around the corner.

Another consideration is whether or not your colleges have a policy of superscoring the ACT, or taking the highest section scores across all test dates and recombining them into the strongest possible composite score. This is an ideal policy that works in your favor, and it means you don't have to worry about doing worse in any one section upon retesting.

While the time you spend waiting for your scores may feel like a long two weeks, it's actually a pretty fast turn around considering how many tests the ACT has to receive, score, and compare. Plus all the essays are read and graded by actual people. 

In closing, make sure to contact the ACT and figure out what you have to do next if you sense there are any unusual delays in your score release. Make sure to keep track of your user name and password so you're ready to log in on score release day. If you're satisfied with your scores, great! If not, no worries - figure out where you can focus your prep to improve for next time.

 

What's Next?

What are you aiming to score on the ACT? Learn about what makes a bad, good, and excellent score and how to set your target scores to guide your approach to test prep.

In addition, check out our expert tips and tricks - 15, to be exact - for improving your ACT scores.

 

Disappointed with your ACT scores? Want to improve your ACT score by 4+ points? Download our free guide to the top 5 strategies you need in your prep to improve your ACT score dramatically.

Raise Your ACT Score by 4 Points (Free Download)

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Rebecca Safier
About the Author

Rebecca graduated with her Master's in Adolescent Counseling from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has years of teaching and college counseling experience and is passionate about helping students achieve their goals and improve their well-being. She graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT.



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