Choosing the right ACT test date can significantly impact the score you get. You want to choose a date that gives you both enough time to prepare for the test and enough time to send your scores to schools by their deadlines and potentially retake the ACT if you need to.
At PrepScholar, we constantly review the best data to inform you about future test dates so you can decide well in advance when you want to take the ACT. In this article, we give you the ACT test dates for 2019-2020 and explain the factors to consider in order to select the best test date for you.
ACT Test Dates for 2019-2020
Below are the test dates, registration deadlines, and score release dates for 2019-2020. These dates have all been confirmed by ACT Inc. If you register for the exam after the regular deadline but before the late deadline, you'll pay an additional $30 late fee. Registration after the late deadline isn't possible.
|Test Date||Deadline||Late Deadline||Score Release*|
|Sept 14, 2019||Aug 16, 2019||Aug 30, 2019||Sept 24; Oct 8, 2019|
|Oct 26, 2019||Sept 20, 2019||Oct 4, 2019||Nov 12; Nov 26, 2019|
|Dec 14, 2019||Nov 8, 2019||Nov 22, 2019||Dec 26, 2019; Jan 9, 2020|
|Feb 8, 2020||Jan 10, 2020||Jan 17, 2020||Feb 25; March 10, 2020|
|April 4, 2020||Feb 28, 2020||March 13, 2020||April 14; April 28, 2020|
|June 13, 2020||May 8, 2020||May 22, 2020||June 23; July 7, 2020|
|July 18, 2020**||June 19, 2020||June 26, 2020||July 28; Aug 11, 2020|
*= Refers to online score release. The first date is when multiple-choice scores come out, and the second date is when complete scores (including the essay) are available.
**No testing in New York for the July test date
How to Choose the Best ACT Test Date for You
Now you know when the ACT test dates are, but which date should you choose? There are four factors to consider to ensure you choose the best ACT test date for you. We discuss each of them below.
#1: When Are Your College Applications Due?
The most important factor for choosing your ACT test date is making sure schools you're applying to will receive your scores before their deadlines. Many schools are pretty strict about deadlines (they have a lot of applications to go through!), and your awesome ACT scores won't matter if you miss their deadline. This means you always want to be sure you choose a test date that gets your scores in on time.
It's important to remember that it takes about two weeks after the exam date for you to receive your ACT scores, and then it'll often take another two weeks after that for schools to receive your results. Because of this, we recommend choosing an ACT test date at least four weeks before application deadlines to make absolutely sure schools receive your scores in time.
Common deadlines are January 1 for regular decision and November 1 or 15 for early action/early decision. If you apply regular decision, the December test in your senior year will likely be the last test you can take for most colleges. If you apply early action or early decision, the last test you can take will likely be the October test date. Some schools have a specific deadline just for SAT/ACT scores, or they'll list the last exam date they accept scores from. Check the admissions pages of the schools you're applying to in order to get this information.
Also, if you're hoping to apply for any scholarships that consider your ACT score, you'll need to make sure your scores are in before those deadlines as well.
#2: How Many Times Do You Plan to Take the ACT?
Because most students increase their scores when they retake the ACT, you should give yourself an opportunity to take the test multiple times. Many students end up taking the ACT two or three times in order to get their best score. This is the schedule we recommend:
- First time: as a junior in your fall semester
- Second time: as a junior in your spring semester
- Third time: as a senior in your fall semester (or the summer before fall semester)
If you don't feel quite ready to take the ACT in the fall of your junior year, you can take the test for the first time in February and still have enough time to take it once or twice more with time to study between exam dates.
#3: How Long Do You Plan to Study?
Before selecting your ACT test date, figure out how long you’ll need to study and make sure you have enough time to prepare before you take the test. We typically recommend you study for three to six months before you take the ACT, but what really counts, more than the number of months you study, is how many hours you study. Here are our estimates for the numbers of hours you’ll need to study for the ACT based on how large of a point improvement you want:
- 0-1 ACT point improvement: 10 hours
- 1-2 ACT point improvement: 20 hours
- 2-4 ACT point improvement: 40 hours
- 4-6 ACT point improvement: 80 hours
- 6-9 ACT point improvement: 150 hours+
So, if you are getting about a 28 on practice ACTs and your goal score is a 31, expect to study about 40 hours to reach that goal. If you think you can get in five hours of studying a week, that means it'll take you about eight weeks to be ready, so you should choose a test date at least two months after you begin your ACT prep.
However, these are just estimates, and it's important to take regular practice tests so you can see how much progress you're making and where you still need to improve.
#4: Do You Have Conflicts With Any Test Dates?
Finally, before you select an ACT test date, you need to make sure it works with your schedule. Once you have a test date in mind, check to see if you have any potential conflicts on or around that date. Don't look at just the test date itself either; make sure you'll have enough time in your schedule in the weeks/months before the exam date to study as many hours as you need to.
Maybe the February date is on the same day as your orchestra concert. Or perhaps you want to avoid the June test date because you’ll be focused on your finals/AP exams. In these cases, you'll want to choose a different exam date to be sure you can be well prepared for the ACT and fully focused on the test come exam day.
Summary: ACT Test Dates
In 2019-2020, there are seven ACT exam dates. There is one during each of the following months:
Remember to register for the exam on time to ensure you get the test date you want and don't have to pay a late registration fee.
When deciding which ACT test date to choose, remember to ask yourself the following questions:
- When are your college applications due?
- How many times do you plan on taking the ACT?
- How long do you need to study for the ACT?
- Are there any test dates that conflict with your schedule?
Need additional help choosing an ACT test date? See our factors you should think about before setting a test date. It's also important to consider the time you have to study and the advantages of taking the ACT multiple times.
Wondering whether to take the SAT or the ACT? Check out our complete guide to which test will be easier for you.
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.
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.