If you're planning to take the ACT in the spring, you might be wondering: should you take the April ACT? Or will you be better off taking the ACT on a different test date?
In this article, we cover everything you need to know about the April ACT, including when the exam is, whether your scores will get to your schools in time, and the pros and cons of taking the ACT in April.
UPDATE: April 2020 ACT Cancelled Due to COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and in line with CDC regulations, the ACT has canceled the April 4, 2020 ACT testing date. Students affected by the cancellation will be receiving an email from the ACT with more information about rescheduling the exam or securing a refund of your testing fee.
If you have questions about the cancellation, be sure to check out our article that answers all of your FAQs. You can also check the ACT website for even more up-to-date information.
When Is the April ACT?
The April ACT generally takes place on the first or second Saturday of the month. Below are the April ACT dates and deadlines for 2020, 2021, and 2022. The 2020 dates have been confirmed by ACT, Inc., whereas the others are projections based on historical data:
|Test Date||Registration Deadline||Late Registration Deadline / Deadline for Changes||Standby Request Deadline|
|April 4, 2020||February 28, 2020||March 13, 2020||March 27, 2020|
|April 3, 2021||February 26, 2021||March 11, 2021||March 25, 2021|
|April 2, 2022||February 25, 2022||March 10, 2022||March 24, 2022|
The ACT registration fees are $68 for the test with the Writing section and $52 without Writing. The April ACT is offered in the US, US territories, and Canada, as well as internationally.
Note that the 2020 April ACT is available on both April 3 and April 4 for international students only (including Canada). On both days, there will be a morning session and an afternoon session.
Most students register for the April ACT by the normal registration deadline. If you register during the late registration period, you must pay an additional late registration fee of $30.
If you miss both registration deadlines, you might still be able to take the ACT in April—as long as you sign up for standby testing by the standby deadline, which is normally eight days before the test date. (Standby is no longer offered to students testing outside the US and US territories.)
Students on standby are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. To request standby, you must pay both the regular registration fee and a $55 standby fee. (However, both of these fees will be refunded to you if you are denied admission on test day.)
Once the standby deadline has passed, there is no way to take the April ACT, and you will have to select a different ACT test date.
When Will April ACT Scores Be Released?
April ACT scores are released to test takers online starting April 14 and may continue to be released until as late as May 29. These dates are only for the multiple-choice scores and do not include your Writing score (which is separate from your composite score out of 36 points). If you opt for the essay, expect to receive your essay score approximately two weeks after your multiple-choice and composite ACT scores.
Most test takers will receive their April ACT scores within two weeks after the test date. If your scores take longer to process, the delay might be due to potential problems such as testing irregularities, incorrect identification information, or outstanding registration fees.
As for your colleges, when schools receive April ACT scores can vary significantly. ACT, Inc. will send your scores to the colleges you chose during registration as soon as your official scores are released online, which usually happens in late April.
However, some colleges don't process scores right away or as often as other schools do, so be sure to give your schools ample time to process your scores long before any of your college applications are due.
For those who are taking the April ACT with Writing, your ACT scores will not be reported or sent to colleges until the essay has been graded as well. This means that most test takers will have to wait around a minimum of four weeks (two weeks for the multiple-choice scores and two extra weeks for the Writing score) until their official ACT scores are reported online and sent to their designated schools.
Will Your April ACT Scores Get to Your Schools in Time?
In a word, yes! Official ACT scores are reported online (and sent to your schools) usually by mid- to late April.
Assuming that you're taking the ACT your junior year of high school and have not yet finished your college applications, these scores should have plenty of time to get to your schools before any deadlines, which are typically anywhere from mid-autumn to early winter (this applies to early action/early decision deadlines, too).
Worst-case scenario, even if your April ACT scores aren't released until June and your colleges take a month to process your scores, you should still have more than enough time before any of your applications are due!
Pros and Cons of Taking the April ACT
Struggling to decide whether to take the April ACT? No matter what year you're thinking of taking it, here are some pros and cons to consider before you make your decision.
Pros of Taking the April ACT
- Your scores are guaranteed to arrive to your schools in time—even for early action or early decision plans. As I mentioned above, the vast majority of April ACT scores should be reported within two weeks after the test date and by June at the latest. Luckily, all these time frames leave you with plenty of time to get your ACT scores to your colleges well before even the earliest of autumn deadlines.
- You can get the ACT out of the way before starting your college applications. If you take the April ACT as a junior (or even as a sophomore) and do well on it—meaning you don't need to retake it as a 12th grader—you'll have the entire summer and first semester of your senior year to focus entirely on college applications.
- You'll have at least one final shot to get the scores you want in the fall of your senior year. We normally recommend that students take the ACT two to three times in total: first in the fall of your junior year, second in the spring of your junior year, and third (if necessary) in the fall of your senior year. By taking the April ACT, even if your scores aren't where you want them to be, you'll have the entire summer and first semester of your senior year to study and prep for the September or October ACT.
Cons of Taking the April ACT
- You'll have to study primarily during the school year. In order to do well on the April ACT, you'll have to study for the exam in the months leading up to it—that is, for most of your spring semester your junior (or sophomore) year. But this can be difficult to do, especially if you're also trying to study for AP exams (which are in May) and finals. If you think you'll get easily overwhelmed, or you're expecting to have tons of activities going on spring semester, consider taking the ACT on a different date.
- You might need to study during your spring break. Those planning to take the April ACT will likely have to spend the bulk of their spring breaks preparing for the exam (unless your spring break is after the test—if so, lucky you!). Although you don't need to dedicate your entire break to ACT prep, it's advisable that you spend as much time as you can studying, particularly if your break is right around test day. Sadly, this means you might not be able to enjoy your "time off" as much as you'd like to!
Key Takeaways: Taking the ACT in April
The next April ACT date will be on Saturday, April 3, 2021. International test centers will offer the April ACT on two dates: April 2 and April 3. Regardless of whether you're reading this guide before the April test date or way after it, you can still use this information to help you plan ahead and prepare for the next April ACT.
Keep in mind that since the April 2020 test has been cancelled, there will be no scores released for that date. The score release date for the April 2021 test has not been set yet. But you can follow the general guidelines listed above to get a rough idea of when you'll know your scores. (If you registered for the Writing section, you'll get your essay score about two weeks after your multiple-choice and composite ACT scores.) Assuming you take the April ACT in your junior or sophomore year, your scores should have plenty of time to get to your colleges prior to application deadlines.
Before registering for the ACT in April, take time to consider whether you're okay with spending most of your spring semester and spring break preparing for the exam. If not, a different date might be a better option for you!
For more information on when you can take the ACT, check out our detailed guide to this year's and future ACT test dates.
Ready to ace the ACT? Then you'll love our top ACT tips and tricks, guaranteed to improve your score. And don't forget about our comprehensive guide to getting a perfect ACT score—written by a 36 full scorer!
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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Hannah received her MA in Japanese Studies from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California. From 2013 to 2015, she taught English in Japan via the JET Program. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel.