SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

What Is ACT Standby? How Do You Get It?

Posted by Samantha Lindsay | Jun 20, 2015 12:35:29 PM

ACT General Info



Need to take the ACT on the next test date but missed both registration deadlines? If it's already past the late registration deadline for an ACT test date, you can still take the test by signing up for standby testing. 

Read on to learn how to request standby testing for the ACT and why you might do it.


Requesting ACT Standby Testing

You can request standby testing for the ACT no later than eight days before a test date. Standby testing must be requested through your online ACT account during the “standby request period” - the time between the late registration deadline and eight days before the test.

Here's a list of test dates for the upcoming school year along with their standby request deadlines:

Test Date Standby Deadline
September 10, 2016 September 2, 2016
October 22, 2016 October 14, 2016
December 10, 2016 December 2, 2016
February 11, 2017 February 3, 2017
April 8, 2017 March 31, 2017
June 10, 2017 June 2, 2017


Be sure to upload a photo of yourself and complete all online information so your standby request will be valid. You will have to pay the normal registration fee plus a standby testing fee of $47.


The Day of the Test

Unfortunately, you’re not guaranteed a seat or a test booklet at the test center if you sign up for standby testing. You’ll be admitted on a first-come first-served basis If there aren’t enough materials or staff on hand you could be turned away. You will get both your registration fee and waitlist fee refunded if this happens!

Remember to bring your Standby Ticket that indicates the correct test center as well as an acceptable photo ID (issued by an official government agency or your school). Only standard time and standard testing materials are offered for standby requests, so if you need special test accommodations you should avoid standby testing.


Reasons to Request ACT Standby Testing

Is it really worth it to sign up for standby testing if you missed the late registration deadline? Here are a few scenarios where you might consider it as an option: 


Scenario #1: It's Your Last Chance to Take the ACT Before You Send Scores to Colleges

Many colleges don’t accept scores from any ACTs taken later than December. If it’s your senior year and you missed the late registration deadline for the December ACT test date, you might consider standby testing. Sign up if you think you have a good shot at improving your scores by taking the test one last time.  


Scenario #2: It’s Crucial to Your Plan That You Take the ACT at This Time

If you've been planning for this date and know it’s going to be the best time for you to take the test in the grand scheme of your college application plan, you might consider standby testing. If this was supposed to be your first test junior fall, your second test junior spring, or your last test senior fall (all "benchmark" tests), you would be smart to consider standby testing to keep yourself on track.

You should also think about why you missed the registration deadline if this was such an important test for you. If you were too caught up in studying to remember to sign up for the test, you might need to tone down your intensity a bit!


body_facebook.pngIf your face is stuck to a book, you need to reevaluate your life choices. On the bright side, you will have a great new profile picture that also provides biting social commentary. 


Scenario #3: You Want to Use Test Information Release to Study 

The Test Information Release gives you a way to review your ACT scores in more depth by providing access to your test booklet along with details about the questions you answered correctly, incorrectly, and omitted. It is only available for December, April, and June test dates, but it can be a really great study tool. If you know that you won’t get another opportunity to order TIR for a while if you miss this test date, you should consider standby testing.


Reasons to Just Wait for the Next Test Date

Sometimes it’s not a smart idea to sign up for standby testing. It costs a fair amount of extra money, and you might not really need to take the ACT on this specific date. Here are some reasons to hold off: 


Scenario #1: You Can Take the ACT on the Next Date Without It Impacting Your Plans Much

For example, if it’s your junior year and you missed the September registration deadline, it might not be a big deal for you to take the test in October instead. You would still be able to take the ACT during your junior fall and give yourself time in between your first test and other test dates in the winter and spring to study.


Scenario #2: The Standby Fee Will Be a Financial Burden

The sad truth is that you can’t get a fee waiver for the standby fee. If you think it will be a significant strain on you to pay the extra $47, don’t go for standby testing unless you're absolutely counting on this test date as your last chance to reach your target score. 


The Bottom Line

You can order ACT Standby Testing up to eight days before the test date.

It’s a $47 fee!

Consider ordering standby testing if you are relying on this test date to keep you on track with your studying plans or it’s your last chance to take the ACT before applying to college.

Don’t order standby testing if you can take the test on the next date instead without major consequences.

Try to avoid putting yourself in this situation by being aware of test dates and registering far in advance!


What's Next?

Wondering which ACT test date is right for you? Here's a guide to choosing the best date. If you're not sure whether you should register for the regular ACT or the ACT with Writing, take a look at this list of schools that require the ACT with writing. 

If you are waiting to see your latest scores, check out this article on how to get and interpret your ACT score report. If you have concerns or are confused about your scores, consider ordering Test Information Release or, in more extreme cases, Hand Scoring. 

If you're still debating whether to take the ACT again, use this guide to make a decision. Here's a list of schools that Superscore the ACT, meaning they take your best score from each section of the test and compile them to create your best composite score. 


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.

Free eBook: 5 Tips to 4+ Points on the ACT

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Samantha Lindsay
About the Author

Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.

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