Figuring out the best ACT test date for you isn’t always easy, especially if you’re stuck debating between two or more upcoming ACTs. Before you choose a date, ask yourself: which date will work best with your schedule? Will you have any obligations or extracurriculars around that time? When are your college application deadlines?
This guide introduces all upcoming ACT test dates for the 2018-19 testing year and also offers specific advice on the best possible dates for sophomores, juniors, and seniors.
2018 ACT Test Dates
These fall and early winter ACTs are some of the best dates for juniors looking to take their first ACT. They’re also good for seniors who want to take the ACT a final time before their college applications are due.
As for sophomores, most of these dates are too early and should be avoided.
September 8, 2018
- Registration Deadline: August 10, 2018
- Late Registration Deadline: August 26, 2018
This test date is at the start of the school year and is therefore too early for sophomores. As a sophomore, you won’t yet have studied the bulk of concepts tested on the ACT, so there won’t be much point in taking it this early.
In addition, because most sophomores don’t know for sure where they’ll be applying to college just yet, you probably won’t have a concrete list of schools or a specific ACT goal score in mind.
If you’d really like to get a head start on your ACT prep, you can use this time to begin some light studying: try out some official ACT practice questions, get familiar with the test format, and take a look at a few official practice tests.
This is a great date for juniors to take their first ACT. By this time, you should be familiar with most ACT content. This date also gives you plenty of time to retake the ACT in the spring, summer, and/or fall of your senior year, if needed. (We recommend taking the ACT at least twice since you’re more likely to get a higher score on your second try!)
Finally, this test date gives you the whole summer to prep for the ACT, which can be helpful if you're not a fan of studying during the school year and having to juggle classes and test prep.
Seniors can use this test date to take their final ACT before college application deadlines. If you’re applying early decision or early action, this date easily allows you to get your ACT scores to your colleges in time. (Most early decision/early action deadlines are around November.)
Furthermore, since you’ll have the whole summer to prep for the ACT, you won’t have to worry about balancing test prep with college applications.
Who said Halloween candy can't be brain food for the ACT?
October 27, 2018
- Registration Deadline: September 28, 2018
- Late Registration Deadline: October 14, 2018
Again, this test date is still early for sophomores. However, if you really want to get exposure to the ACT, you have three main options at this point:
- Option 1: Take a full-length ACT practice test. Doing this can help you learn more about the format and content of the exam. Just note that you won’t have studied all the concepts being tested on it yet.
- Option 2: Take the PreACT, which is a practice ACT for sophomores. This test is similar to the PSAT (a practice SAT), only it's not associated with a scholarship competition. The PreACT may be administered any time during the school year between September and June. Schools choose whether (and when) they want to administer it. To learn more about the PreACT and your high school's plans for it, speak with your guidance counselor.
- Option 3: Take the PSAT, which will be administered on October 10, 2018. Even though the PSAT is a practice test for the SAT and not the ACT, taking it can be a smart way to get in some general test-taking practice and help you determine whether you should take the SAT or ACT. It can also help prepare you to take the PSAT again as a junior when you'll be eligible for the National Merit Scholarship Program!
This October test date is another great date for juniors, especially if you missed the earlier one in September. This ACT date gives you ample time to see your scores and then prepare for a retake in the spring or summer.
If you’ve decided to take the PSAT, however, I don’t advise taking the ACT at this time. Studying for both tests could easily overwhelm you—and might even confuse you, too, since the PSAT/SAT and ACT, albeit similar, are not identical in content or form.
Seniors can choose this test date and still get their ACT scores to colleges in time. Since most regular application deadlines are January 1, this is a good time to take the ACT one last time should you want to. If you're applying early action/early decision, this date should work for most schools—but be aware that it'll likely be the last possible ACT you can take.
Don't forget that you’ll be pretty busy around this time as you prepare your college applications, so I highly recommend opting for an earlier test date if possible.
If only this adorable Arctic fox administered this wintry ACT.
December 8, 2018
- Registration Deadline: November 2, 2018
- Late Registration Deadline: November 19, 2018
Although this test date is still early for 10th graders, if you’re really curious about what the ACT is like, go ahead and give it a shot. Remember not to put too much pressure on yourself to get a high score; you still haven’t learned all the ins and outs of the concepts tested on the ACT, after all!
Ultimately, it's still a better idea to just focus on taking ACT practice tests instead of taking the actual ACT. (Plus, you’ll save money!)
While you can definitely take the ACT on this date, it might overlap with your finals, so I suggest taking it on one of the earlier test dates if possible. If you haven’t taken the ACT at all and really want to get your first one over with before spring, this is a solid date to choose. Just make sure you have a plan for balancing your finals with your ACT prep.
This is the last possible ACT test date for most seniors. If you're applying regular decision, most colleges should be able to accept ACT scores from this date; some won't, though, so make sure to check with your colleges directly before you register for this test.
As is the case for juniors, since this test date might overlap with your prep for finals, it's important to strike a healthy balance in your schedule so that you don’t overwhelm yourself.
C'mon, Frank, you had one job—to drag in the 2019 statue and get out of the frame! *sighs*
2019 ACT Test Dates
Although seniors likely won’t be able to take the ACT after early winter, these test dates should work well for sophomores and juniors.
February 9, 2019
- Registration Deadline: January 11, 2019
- Late Registration Deadline: January 18, 2019
This test date is not available in New York.
You can take the test on this date if you really want to, but just know that it’s still pretty early for sophomores. You’ll likely struggle the most with the Math section, especially if you’re in Geometry class. If you’re in Algebra II or higher, however, you should know most of the math concepts being tested and could give it a shot if you're truly interested.
Juniors can opt for this test date if they wish, but it’s most likely better to wait to take the ACT until spring, especially if it’s your second ACT and you took your first test back in the fall. Waiting for a spring test date will give you more time between tests to prep and hone your weaknesses so you can ultimately achieve a bigger score increase.
Moreover, if you choose this winter test date, you’ll likely have to do a significant amount of ACT prep over your winter break.
This is the final test date seniors can choose if applying regular decision at select colleges. Though most colleges won’t accept ACT scores from the February test date, some will, especially those with late application deadlines.
If you’re thinking of taking the ACT one final time, make sure to check whether the schools you’re applying to will accept scores from this test date or not.
Ah, spring. When you can finally study for the ACT in the same field Edward Cullen sparkled in.
April 13, 2019
- Registration Deadline: March 8, 2019
- Late Registration Deadline: March 25, 2019
This is a good date for high-achieving sophomores to try out the ACT. By this time, you should have learned most of the concepts on the test (though there might be some math ones you’ve yet to master).
I suggest using this test to get a baseline score and to figure out what your biggest weaknesses are so you can start to think about what you'll need to concentrate on in your future prep.
After you get your scores, you can take the ACT again in the fall of your junior year, and if you hit your goal score then, that's it—no more ACT! This gives you a huge advantage, as it lets you get the test out of the way early and gives you extra time to work on your college applications.
This April test date is an excellent time for juniors to take the ACT for the first or second time, as it shouldn’t conflict with finals. Plus, by this point, you’ll have learned all the major concepts that are tested on the ACT.
If this is your second ACT, you’re doing a great job of organizing your time. If you're able to hit your goal score on this date, you won’t have to retake the ACT and can instead use the summer to relax and focus on getting a head start on your college applications.
If you still haven’t taken the ACT, however, I recommend doing so by this test date. This way, you’ll still have the whole summer to study and retake it at the end of summer or in the fall of your senior year should you need to raise your scores.
Unfortunately, this test date is too late for seniors, as nearly all college application deadlines will have passed by this time. Be sure to get in your final ACT by December (or possibly February, depending on your colleges’ deadlines).
June 8, 2019
- Registration Deadline: May 3, 2019
- Late Registration Deadline: May 20, 2019
This is another great date for sophomores to take the ACT. With this date, you’ll get your ACT scores back by mid-summer and can use the rest of the summer to start prepping for a retake at the beginning of your junior year.
The only big disadvantage is that this date might conflict with finals, which can make it tricky to prioritize your prep time wisely.
This is another solid option for juniors, especially if you want to get the ACT over with before summer vacation.
As I mentioned above, however, this test date could conflict with your finals, so make sure you’re using your time smartly and aren't overwhelming yourself with too many study sessions. Ideally, you’ll check your schedule before you register for this date so you can know exactly when all your tests are and when you can dedicate time to studying for each of them.
If possible, I recommend opting for the April test date instead of this one, as that one is a lot less likely to coincide with finals and other important school tests.
Summer challenge: eat your ice cream before it melts while taking an ACT practice test! Bonus points if you don't get any ice cream on your test. Triple bonus points if you don't care and just lick it off.
July 13, 2019
- Registration Deadline: June 14, 2019
- Late Registration Deadline: June 24, 2019
This test date is not available in New York or California.
This is a good date for sophomores who want to get their first ACT done before junior year. By this time you’ll have learned nearly all the big concepts on the test. Therefore, you can use this ACT to get a more accurate feel as to what your biggest strengths and weaknesses are.
One big plus is that you won’t have to deal with any classes or homework as you prepare for this test, since it’s in the middle of summer. Unfortunately, this means that you’ll be spending about half the summer studying, so think deeply about whether this is OK before you sign up for it.
You’ll get your scores in August, which doesn’t give you a ton of time to assess your performance and prepare for a retake in September. That being said, you should have enough time to prep for a retake in either October or December.
This is an excellent test date for juniors who don’t want to prep during the school year and don’t mind studying over the summer. You also won’t have to worry about college applications at this time, so feel free to channel all your energy into getting a great ACT score!
Review: The Best ACT Test Dates for 2018-19In total, there are seven ACT test dates for the 2018-19 testing year, which are as follows:
- September 8, 2018
- October 27, 2018
- December 8, 2018
- February 9, 2019 (not available in New York)
- April 13, 2019
- June 8, 2019
- July 13, 2019 (not available in New York or California)
For sophomores, the best test dates are those at the end of the school year and those in the summer: April, June, and July. These dates are good since they give you time to learn most of the content on the ACT; they also give you ample time to prepare for and later retake the exam during your junior year.
When it comes to juniors, pretty much all ACT test dates work well. We typically advise juniors to take their first ACT in the fall and their second ACT in the spring. Following this schedule will give you plenty of time to retake the test a third time in the fall of your senior year, if needed.
Seniors can take their final ACT in the fall (September or October), as these dates should allow enough time for scores to get to colleges before applications are due—even if you're applying early action or early decision.
Seniors can also do the December or February dates but only if absolutely necessary—and if the colleges you’re applying to have specifically stated they will accept test scores from these dates.
For more tips on how to find the best ACT test date for you, check out our in-depth guide to ACT test dates for 2018 and 2019. Once you pick a date, spend some time learning what you'll want to bring to the test—and what you'll want to leave behind!
You know how to find the ideal date for you—but what about the ideal test center? Get tips in our guide to choosing the best ACT test center.
Curious about SAT test dates, too? Read our full guide to choosing SAT dates for 2018 and 2019!
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.