Registering for the ACT seems like a pretty straightforward part of the testing process. But the signup process is much more convoluted than you think, and some things matter a lot more than others. You also want to make sure to avoid important mistakes that can be costly.
In this article, we’ll discuss step-by-step how to sign up for the ACT. In the half-hour long process, we’ll discuss which sections matter a lot, and which ones not at all. Finally, we’ll share helpful tips to choose the best location and save money.
How to Register for the ACT
Step 1: The first step is to log into your ACT account here. If you don't have an ACT account, you'll be asked to create one. Next, click on Register on the left.
Step 2: The first section, “Your Personal Profile,” has only one important page. The rest is just information the ACT is collecting for research purposes and has zero impact on your score or college admissions.
The important page is the first one: “Your Information.” Make sure all of this information is accurate because this is what they’re using to track your tests.
Step 3: Every other page in this section is irrelevant to your ACT score. The ACT is collecting this information from you for two purposes: 1) to conduct research about how different types of students perform on the ACT, 2) to give your information to colleges who can then send you spam mail based on your interests. Colleges will NOT be using this information as part of their admissions decisions – they’ll instead be reading your application.
If you’re not sure yet which colleges you might want to apply to and want schools to contact you, then take the time to fill this out accurately. Otherwise, feel free to breeze through it and submit blank answers.
This page and the following pages in this section aren't important.
Step 4: The next major section is “Your Interest Inventory.” Much like the previous section, this is purely optional. The ACT uses this to try to recommend career choices for you, but few students really see this as helpful.
Step 5: Next, we move to “Your Test Selection.” This is where your choices really start to matter. First, you have to agree to Terms and Conditions. These basically forbid you from cheating and sharing the questions and answers with others. Next, choose your test date and any other options you want.
Step 6: The next page goes over the requirements of the photo of yourself you must upload in order to complete your registration. This photo will be used on test day for identification purposes. On this page are all the requirements the photo must meet, such as being a picture of only you, showing your full face, and having a plain background. You won't be uploading the photo just yet; instead you'll do that after you finish the registration process. You have to upload your photo by the photo deadline (eight days before your test date) or your registration will be canceled.
Step 7: Next, the ACT asks for the high school courses you’ve taken, and then it asks you to enter grades for each course. The ACT says they’ll send your colleges the GPA with your score report. Note that most colleges don’t actually take this as your record – they’d much rather use your transcript directly. But you might as well take the time to take this seriously, lest the college wonders why your ACT reported GPA differs so much from your transcript.
Step 8: Next, you’ll have a chance to add Score Report choices. At this point, you get the ability to send four free score reports to colleges of your choice. This is a $48 value for free! If you know which schools you’re applying to, I recommend that you fill this out as it can be a major cost savings (read here for more about why). If you’re worried that your college will see an unfavorable score, realize that they actually don’t really care how many times you took the test – they just care about your highest score.
Step 9: Next, you’ll have the ability to fill out Future Plans (this isn’t important and is just given to colleges to try to match your interests).
Step 10: Finally, you get to choose your Test Center. At this point, I heavily recommend that you search by ZIP code. This will show you the test centers closest to you, and the best location to take your test might not be your high school.
If you search by ZIP code, you get to see all the available test centers near you.
If you're registering right now, I recommend you read our guide to the best ACT test locations. This will help you make sure you're maximizing your chance at a great score.
Don't forget to upload your registration photo when you're done, and that’s the whole process! Now you know which parts really matter and which don’t.
Tips for Signing Up for the ACT
Now that you know how to sign up for ACT tests, here are some important tips:
- Choose the best location. This isn’t an automatic decision – many students take it at their high school, but this might not be the best location! Read this guide for more.
- Register early, well before the deadline. Put a note on your calendar to register at least six weeks before your test date. If you don’t do this in time, you’ll be subject to fees, or worse, you won’t be able to take your exam at all.
- Apply for a fee waiver if you qualify. Read here for more details.
Now that you know how to register, you should know WHEN to register. Read our guide to the best ACT test dates.
How high of an ACT score do you need? What's a good ACT score? Click here to find out.
Want to improve by 4 points or more on the ACT? Get our free must-read guide to the top tips you need to use to improve your ACT score:
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As co-founder and head of product design at PrepScholar, Allen has guided thousands of students to success in SAT/ACT prep and college admissions. He's committed to providing the highest quality resources to help you succeed. Allen graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude and earned two perfect scores on the SAT (1600 in 2004, and 2400 in 2014) and a perfect score on the ACT. You can also find Allen on his personal website, Shortform, or the Shortform blog.