No matter how you prep for the ACT—whether you have a tutor, take a class, or study by yourself—you must get access to official, printable ACT tests. The test below was released by ACT, Inc., and is the exact format you'll see on test day.
In this post, I'll tell you where you can find official, printable ACT practice tests with answer keys. I'll also give you key strategies to help you make big improvements on each practice test.
COVID-19 (Coronavirus) ACT Cancellations
Some ACT test dates were cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and there's a possibility that more cancellations could occur in 2021 and 2022. Make sure you check out our FAQ article to get more information about which test dates are affected and what that means for you.
The Best Free, Printable ACT Practice Test
On ACT's website, they have one full-length printable ACT practice test available for free. This ACT practice test was made by the same people who make the ACT you'll see on exam day. The practice test is also fully updated to the format and content of the current ACT.
Once you've downloaded the PDF practice test, I recommend printing it out and working through it on paper using official time limits (more on this in a moment).
Note that this test is not a cure-all for your ACT problems. To use it effectively, you'll need to learn what it does and doesn't do. You'll also need to make sure you're using ACT practice tests at an optimal frequency (In other words, don't take it too close to your ACT test date!).
But how else can you utilize official practice tests in your ACT prep?
5 Strategies to Get the Most Out of ACT Practice Tests
When you set aside four hours for an ACT practice test, it's important to try to get the most out of your time and energy. Using our five critical tips below as you take your ACT test can help you prepare more effectively for test day.
#1: Print Out the Test and Work Through It on Paper
You're going to take the actual ACT on paper (as opposed to a computer), so it's best to emulate this format by taking your practice test on paper, too. Do your scratch work directly in your "test book" (in other words, not on separate pieces of scratch paper—remember, you won't get any extra paper on test day, though you are allowed to take notes directly on your test!).
If you're taking the Writing (essay) section, be sure to use the lined essay paper (included in the PDF above) to write out your essay by hand.
#2: Keep Strict Timing on Every Section
Many students struggle with time pressure on the ACT. Going over a section's time limit by just two minutes can make a noticeable difference in your score since you're essentially giving yourself the chance to answer two or three more questions.
This is why it's so important to adhere to the official time limits. Not only will this help you get used to the test structure, but it'll also let you learn how to identify your weaknesses.
Here are the official time limits on the ACT as well as approximately how long you should aim to spend per question on each section:
|ACT Section||Time per Section||Time per Question|
|English||45 minutes||36 seconds|
|Math||60 minutes||60 seconds|
|Reading||35 minutes||52 seconds|
|Science||35 minutes||52 seconds|
|Writing (Optional)||40 minutes||40 minutes|
Last but not least, the ACT isn't without breaks, so make sure to rest during your test, too!
One important thing to note: students with physical disabilities, learning disabilities, ADHD, autistic spectrum disorders, medical or psychiatric conditions, and visual or hearing impairments may qualify for 50% extended time.
You can read a complete guide to ACT accommodations here. If you’re eligible for ACT extended time, then you’ll have slightly longer to work on each section:
|ACT Section||Time per Section||Time per Question|
|English||70 minutes||54 seconds|
|Math||90 minutes||90 seconds|
|Reading||55 minutes||78 seconds|
|Science||55 minutes||78 seconds|
|Writing (Optional)||60 minutes||60 minutes|
#3: Take the Test in One Sitting, If Possible
The ACT is a marathon: it lasts about four hours, and you have to take it on a Saturday morning. Thousands of students have told me how difficult it is to stay focused during the whole exam and how easy it is to make careless mistakes at the end of the test.
Just like training for a marathon, you need to ensure you've got enough endurance to be able to succeed on the ACT. And the best way to do this is to take a practice test in one sitting—just as you will on test day.
If there's no possible way for you to take an ACT test in one sitting (for example, maybe you're an athlete and have practice every day that completely wears you out), it's OK to split up the test over multiple days—just as long as you're obeying each section's time limit exactly.
In the end, it's better to do some practice than none at all!
#4: Review Your Answers and Mistakes
The main point of taking ACT practice tests isn't just getting to do a lot of questions—it's being able to learn from your mistakes.
For every test you take, review all of your mistakes as well as every question you got right. If you don't know why you missed a question, look it up! That way, your wrong answers become teaching opportunities. You can guide yourself through the process from A to B and “show your work”—you’ll probably remember that question even better than if you’d gotten it right the first time.
#5: No Score Improvement? Supplement Your Practice Tests
Some students are great at using practice tests to study by themselves—they'll see a mistake they made, instantly realize why they made it, and then avoid making it in the future.
That said, most students need additional help with pinpointing their weaknesses and getting down key test-taking skills and strategies. Some of the best options for prep help include hiring a tutor, buying a comprehensive ACT prep book, and taking an online ACT prep course.
Our dedicated guide can help you figure out which ACT prep method works best for you.
Ready to get a perfect ACT score? Read our famous guide on what it takes, written by an expert 36 scorer.
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.
Once you have all your ACT prep resources together, it's time to build a study plan. Our expert advice will help you build the ACT study plan that's best for you!
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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.