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ACT Test Dates 2020-2021


At PrepScholar, we know how important it is the pick the right ACT test date. Choose a date too early and you won't have enough time to study, but choose a date too late and you may not be able to retake the exam if needed or get your scores sent to schools on time.

In order to make choosing an ACT test date easier, we constantly review the best data to inform you about future test dates. When you know future ACT registration and exam dates, you can create your study plan and stay organized, allowing you to lessen your stress and reach your target score.

In this article, we give you the anticipated ACT test dates for 2020-2021 and explain the key factors to think about when choosing your test date.


ACT Test Dates for 2020-2021

Below is the anticipated schedule for the ACT test dates, registration deadlines, and score release dates for the 2020-21 school year. Note that these aren't official dates. All dates are based on our own projections.

Test Date Deadline Late Deadline Online Score Release*
Sept 12, 2020 Aug 31, 2020 N/A Oct 6; Oct 20, 2020
Sept 13, 2020 Aug 31, 2020 N/A Oct 7; Oct 21, 2020
Sept 19, 2020 Aug 31, 2020 N/A Oct 13; Oct 27, 2020
Oct 10, 2020 Sep 25, 2020 N/A Nov 3; Nov 17, 2020
Oct 17, 2020 Sep 25, 2020 N/A Nov 10; Nov 24, 2020
Oct 24, 2020 Sept 25, 2020 N/A Nov 24; Dec 8, 2020
Oct 25, 2020 Sep 25, 2020 N/A Nov 25; Dec 9, 2020
Dec 12, 2020 Nov 6, 2020 Nov 20, 2020 Jan 7; Jan 21, 2021
Feb 6, 2021 Jan 8, 2021 Jan 15, 2021 Mar 8; Mar 22, 2021
Apr 10, 2021 Mar 5, 2021 Mar 19, 2021 May 11; May 25, 2021
June 12, 2021 May 7, 2021 May 21, 2021 July 6; July 20, 2021
July 17, 2021 June 11, 2021 June 25, 2021 Aug 10; Aug 24, 2021

*The first date is when multiple-choice scores come out, and the second date is when complete scores (including the essay) become available.


How Accurate Is the Table Above?

All of the dates in the table above are projected and subject to change, particularly in the time of COVID-19.

However, based on previous years' dates and the information we currently have, this schedule should be quite accurate since exam dates don't change much year to year. The score release dates are the least precise, but they should be within a week of the projected dates. Also, keep in mind that not everyone receives their multiple-choice scores at the same time.




How to Choose the Best ACT Test Date

These projected ACT test dates are too far off for you to register for one of them, but you can still use them to get a good sense of when future ACT test dates will be and start planning which month you want to take the test.

When thinking about which ACT exam date is the best for you, consider these four factors:


#1: College Application Deadlines

Before you can choose an ACT test date, you need to know when each of the colleges you're applying to need your scores. College application deadlines are the most important factor to consider when choosing an ACT exam date. If you miss their deadline, they likely won't review your scores, no matter how high they are! This means you always want to choose a test date well before college deadlines.

It takes about two weeks after your exam date for you to get your ACT scores, and then schools typically receive your scores another two weeks after that. Therefore, we recommend choosing an ACT test date at least a month before your applications are due in order to make sure you don't miss any deadlines.

Common application deadlines are January 1 for students applying regular decision and November 1 or 15 for early action/early decision. If you apply regular decision, the December test in your senior year is likely the last ACT you can take for most colleges. If you apply early action or early decision, the last ACT 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 so you can get this information.


#2: Possible ACT Retakes

In order to get their best score, many students end up taking the ACT two or three times. Even if you feel confident you'll get the score you want the first time you take the test, it's smart to give yourself time for one or two retakes, just in case. Here's a potential schedule that gives you plenty of time to take the ACT three times:

  • 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. This will still leave you enough time to take it once or twice more with time to study between exams.


#3: Your Study Plan

Your study plan is another key factor to think about before you choose an ACT test date. We typically recommend students begin studying several months before they take the ACT, but what really counts, more than the number of months, is how many hours are spent studying. Here are our estimates for the numbers of hours you'll need to study for the ACT based on how much of a point improvement you want to make:

  • 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+

For example, if you are getting about a 26 on practice ACTs and your goal score is a 30, expect to study about 40-60 hours to reach that goal. If you think you can manage studying about six hours a week, it'll take you about seven to ten weeks to be ready. That means you should choose a test date at least 2.5 months after you begin studying for the ACT to make sure you have plenty of time to prepare.

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 which areas you still need to improve in.


#4: Schedule Conflicts

Another factor to consider is whether the date you're interested in works with everything else in your schedule. Once you have an exam 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 plenty of time in your schedule in the weeks/months before the exam date for you to study as much as you need to.

For example, maybe the October 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.




What's Next?

Trying to decide whether to take the ACT or the SAT? Learn more about how to decide which test (or tests) to take by reading our comparison guide on them.

What's a good ACT score, and what score should you aim for? Jump into our step-by-step guide to figure out your ACT score goal and how you can reach it.

If you're aiming for top scores on all four sections of the ACT, read our in-depth strategy guides on how to get a 36 on ACT English, ACT Math, ACT Reading, and ACT Science.



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Christine Sarikas
About the Author

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.

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