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What Is ACT Standby? How Do You Get It?


Need to take the ACT on the next test date but missed the late registration deadline? Luckily, even if it's already past the late registration deadline for an ACT test date, you might still be able to take the test by signing up for standby testing. But what exactly is standby testing? How do you sign up for it? Read on to learn how to request standby testing for the ACT and why you might do it.


Requesting ACT Standby Testing

You can request standby testing for the ACT no later than eight days before a test date. Standby testing must be requested through your online ACT account during the standby request period—that is, the time between the late registration deadline and eight days before the test.

Here's a list of test dates for the upcoming school year along with their standby request deadlines:

Test Date Standby Deadline
September 8, 2018 August 31, 2018
October 27, 2018 October 19, 2018
December 8, 2018 November 30, 2018
February 9, 2019 February 1, 2019
April 13, 2019 April 5, 2019
June 8, 2019 May 31, 2019
July 13, 2019 July 5, 2019


Be sure to upload a photo of yourself and complete all online information so your standby request will be valid. You'll have to pay the normal registration fee ($46 for the ACT without Writing, $62.50 for the ACT with Writing) plus a standby testing fee of $53 (which will be refunded to you if you're denied admission on test day).


Standby Testing on ACT Test Day

Unfortunately, you’re not guaranteed a seat or test booklet at the test center if you sign up for standby testing. Rather, you’ll be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis. If there aren’t enough materials or staff on hand, you could be turned away; however, you'll get both your registration fee and waitlist fee refunded if this happens!

Remember to bring your Standby Ticket that indicates the name of the correct test center as well as an acceptable photo ID (i.e., one issued by an official government agency or your school). Only standard time and standard testing materials are offered for standby requests, so if you need special test accommodations, you should avoid standby testing.


3 Reasons to Request ACT Standby Testing

Is it really worth it to sign up for ACT standby testing if you missed the late registration deadline? Here are a few scenarios in which you might consider it as an option: 


#1: It's Your Last Chance to Take the ACT Before You Send Scores to Colleges

Many colleges don’t accept scores from any ACTs taken later than December. Therefore, if it’s your senior year and you missed the late registration deadline for the December ACT test date, you might consider standby testing. Sign up for this last ACT test date if you think you have a good shot at improving your scores by taking the test one last time.


#2: It’s Crucial for Your Plan to Take the ACT at This Time

If you've been planning for this test date and know it’s going to be the best time for you to take the ACT in the grand scheme of your college application plan, you might consider standby testing.

If this was supposed to be your first ACT in the fall of your junior year, your second ACT in the spring of your junior year, or your last ACT in the fall of your senior year (all benchmark tests), you'd be smart to consider standby testing to keep yourself on track.

You should also take some time to think about why you missed the late registration deadline if this was such an important test for you. If you were too caught up in studying to remember to sign up for the ACT, you might need to tone down your intensity a bit!


body_facebook.pngIf your face is stuck to a book, you need to reevaluate your life choices. On the bright side, you'll have a great new profile picture that also provides biting social commentary. 


#3: You Want to Use Test Information Release (TIR) to Study 

ACT, Inc.'s Test Information Release (TIR) gives you a way to review your ACT scores in more depth by providing access to your test booklet along with details about the questions you answered correctly, answered incorrectly, and omitted. 

Though this service is only available for the December, April, and June test datesit can be a really great study tool. If you know that you won’t get another opportunity to order TIR for a while if you miss this test date, definitely consider standby testing.


2 Reasons to Just Wait for the Next ACT Test Date

Sometimes, it’s not a smart idea to sign up for standby testing for the ACT. It costs a fair amount of extra money, after all, and you might not really need to take the test on this specific date. Here are two reasons you might want to hold off and wait for the next ACT test date:


#1: You Can Take the ACT on the Next Date Without Having It Impact Your Plans Much

For example, if it’s your junior year and you missed both of September's registration deadlines, it might not be a big deal for you to take the ACT in October instead. You would still be able to take it in the fall of your junior year and give yourself time between your first and subsequent test dates in the winter and spring to focus on studying.


#2: The Standby Fee Will Be a Financial Burden

The sad truth is that you can’t get a fee waiver for the ACT standby fee. If you think it will be a significant strain on you to pay the extra $53, don’t opt for standby testing unless this test date is your absolute last chance to take the ACT and reach your target score


The Bottom Line: How ACT Standby Testing Works

You can order ACT standby testing up to eight days before a test date. It’s a $53 fee, but this will be refunded to you if you're denied admission to the test center. ACT standby testing uses a first-come, first-served basis, so you're not guaranteed a seat on test day.

Consider ordering standby testing if you're relying on this ACT test date to keep you on track with your studying plans or if it’s your last chance to take the ACT before applying to college.

On the other hand, don’t order standby testing if you can easily take the ACT on the next test date without any major consequences or if you can't afford the extra standby testing fee.

Ultimately, it's best to avoid putting yourself in this situation by being aware of all upcoming ACT test dates and by registering far in advance!


What's Next?

Wondering which ACT test date is right for you? Here's a guide to choosing the best test date. If you're not sure whether you should register for the ACT with or without Writing, take a look at this list of schools that require the ACT with Writing. 

Waiting to see your latest ACT scores? Check out this guide on how to get and interpret your ACT score report. If you have any concerns or are confused about your scores, consider ordering Test Information Release (TIR), or, in more extreme cases, Hand Scoring.

If you're still debating whether to take the ACT again, use this guide to make your decision. In addition, here's a list of schools that superscore the ACT, meaning they take your best score from each section of the test and compile them to create your best composite score. 




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Samantha Lindsay
About the Author

Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.

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