SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

ACT Photo Requirements: How to Pick the Right Picture

Posted by Justin Berkman | Jan 7, 2017 8:00:00 AM

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If you're planning to take the ACT, you need to have a picture of yourself on your admission ticket. Do you know the ACT photo requirements? Did you know that if your picture doesn't meet the requirements, you may not be allowed to take the ACT on test day?

In this article, I'll thoroughly explain how to make sure that you use an appropriate ACT picture. Also, I'll let you know how to upload your photo, and finally, I'll give you some important tips to remember to prevent any unanticipated problems on test day.


Why Do You Need an ACT Picture?

The ACT requires a picture to confirm your identity. The photos help prevent cheating by ensuring that nobody can take the test as somebody else. Your photo will be on your Admission Ticket and will be checked against your photo ID on test day. If you don’t have an acceptable photo on your Admission Ticket, you may be prevented from taking the ACT.

ACT Photo Requirements

You need to be easily recognizable from your picture. These are the requirements for the photo you use:


ACT Photo Basics

The picture must be of only you. No group photos or pictures with your significant other.


Why did he ruin her ACT photo?


No blurry or grainy photos. Make sure the picture is clear.


This won't work.


No shadows or dark spots over your face.


Shadows are bad.


The picture must have a plain background.


Use a portrait photo, not a landscape photo. If you take a picture with a cell phone, the phone should be held vertically when you take the photo.


You must be looking directly into the camera. No side profile pictures


Face the camera.


No dark glasses or sunglasses. Your eyes should be visible


Sunglasses and ACT photos don't mix.


Don’t wear a hat or head covering, unless it’s for religious purposes. If you do wear a religious head covering, adjust it so your face can be clearly seen.


The ACT is gonna need her to remove the hat.


Finally, here's an acceptable photo.



ACT Photo Format and Size Requirements

  • You can upload a JPEG, JPG, PNG, or BMP image file.
  • The maximum file size is 5 MB.
  • The photo must be at least 640 x 480 pixels.
  • If you scan your photo, the uploaded picture must print as a 2” x 2” image or larger.
  • Also, if you scan your picture, crop the image to show only your head and shoulders before you upload it.

Tips for Finding or Taking an ACT Picture

You can use any recent photo of you that fits the ACT photo requirements. Don’t scan a driver’s license or school ID photo. The scanned image probably won’t be high enough quality to be acceptable.

If you’re taking a new picture, here are some tips:

  • Stand a few feet in front of a plain wall.
  • If you’re taking a picture outside, avoid having the sun at your back.
  • Try not to use the camera flash.
  • Use the camera zoom as needed to center only your face and shoulders within the photo frame. However, keep in mind that you can also crop photos if a photo you have or take isn't perfect.


ACT Photo Upload Deadlines

You don’t have to upload your photo at the time you register, but you must upload your photo by the photo upload deadline. Photo deadlines are usually 8 days before the test date. I recommend uploading your photo when you register so you don’t forget.

If you don’t upload your photo by the deadline, your registration will be cancelled and you won’t be allowed to take the test. Also, your registration fee won’t be refunded. You’ll be able to request a test date change, but you’ll still have to upload a photo for that test.

Here are the photo upload deadlines for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Test Date

Deadline (by midnight central time)

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

How to Upload Your ACT Picture

The ACT photo upload process is fairly straightforward. You’ll be prompted to upload your photo when you register online. You can upload any picture that’s on your computer by double clicking on the file.

Also, you can transfer a hard photo to your computer by scanning it. Remember to make sure the scanned image meets the requirements before uploading it.

Furthermore, you can transfer a photo from a device (cell phone or camera) to your computer by plugging the appropriate USB cord into your computer and device.

Additionally, you can submit a photo from a mobile device using the free ACTPhoto app. Just download and install ACTPhoto. It’s available for both iPhones and Androids. Then you’ll be able to submit a photo from your device or use the camera to take a picture to upload.

Finally, you can submit a hard photo, but that’s a little more difficult, and since you’re reading this article online, I assume you have computer access to upload a photo.

Common ACT Photo Issues and Important Things to Remember

The ACT is so particular about Admission Tickets and the photos on your Admission Tickets because these are security measures to help maintain the integrity of the test. You need to  follow all the rules so that you’re able to take the test and receive a valid score. Here are some very important reminders for you:

Make sure the name on your Admission Ticket matches the name on your photo ID. Your picture and name from your photo ID is compared to the picture and name on your Admission Ticket to confirm your identity. If there’s a different name on your ID, the test center won’t be able to effectively confirm your identity and you could be barred from taking your test. When you register online, enter your name exactly as it appears on your ID. Don’t use a nickname or any other name.

Don’t forget your Admission Ticket or photo ID. If you don’t bring your ticket or ID, you won’t be allowed to take the test. The night before, lay out everything you need on test day. You can even make a checklist of things to bring, and make sure you have everything before you head to the test center.

Only bring an ACT-approved calculator. You can only use a calculator on the Math section, and there are restrictions on the type of calculators you can use. Read our article on calculators for more information.

Make sure you follow all ACT rules and regulations. The ACT is strict about its rules. Don’t test them. Don’t discuss specific questions while you’re on break or after the test. Only work on the section you’re supposed to be working on. Don’t keep working on a section after time expires. Read my article on ACT rules for thorough information about the rules you need to follow.

If you break any of these rules, your score may be cancelled. And if you’re caught cheating, the ACT can even take legal action.


What's Next?

Did you miss the late registration deadline for the ACT, but you still want to take the test? Learn about ACT standby testing.

Are you wondering how your score is determined? Find out how ACT scores are calculated.

Finally, if you're preparing for the exam, check out this post about how to ace the ACT.


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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Justin Berkman
About the Author

Justin has extensive experience teaching SAT prep and guiding high school students through the college admissions and selection process. He is firmly committed to improving equity in education and helping students to reach their educational goals. Justin received an athletic scholarship for gymnastics at Stanford University and graduated with a BA in American Studies.

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