If you have decided to take the ACT this year – either for the first time or as a repeat attempt – it’s useful to start thinking early to decide which ACT test dates are right for you.

Although it may be tempting simply to choose the next ACT test date without much thought, it is actually an important decision that shouldn’t be overlooked as you prepare to apply to college. The last thing that you want is to choose an ACT test date that’s too soon and doesn’t allow you to prepare properly, or to wait too long to take the test so that you’re not able to take advantage of ACT superscoring.

With that in mind, the first step is to know when the ACT is administered and the various registration deadlines for each testing date. Basically, there are six ACT test dates throughout the school year, running from September through June and occurring roughly every other month.

ACT Test Dates

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline (Fee Required)
July 14, 2018 June 15, 2018 June 16-22, 2018
September 8, 2018 August 10, 2018 August 11-26, 2018
October 27, 2018 September 28, 2018 September 29-October 14, 2018
December 8, 2018 November 2, 2018 November 3-19, 2018
February 9, 2019 January 11, 2019 January 12-18, 2019
April 13, 2019 March 8, 2019 March 9-25, 2019
June 8, 2019 May 3, 2019 May 4-20, 2019
July 13, 2019 June 14, 2019 June 15-24, 2019

You can register for the ACT and access scores on the ACT website.

Right now, the ACT hasn’t released registration deadlines for the 2017-18 ACT test dates, but it’s safe to bet that the deadlines for regular registration will be approximately five weeks before the ACT testing day, with an additional two week “grace period” for late registrations (that also costs an extra fee – so register early!). As always, these ACT test dates are subject to change, but it’s unlikely that they will vary too much from the typical pattern.

It is also important to note that if you’re taking the test outside of the U.S., the February ACT test date is not offered.

When Should You Take the ACT?

Depending on whether you’re a rising senior or a rising junior, the timing of the ACT test dates can be particularly significant.

When Should Seniors Take the ACT?

If you’re going into your senior year and considering applying either Early Action or Early Decision to your top choice school, there are only two ACT test dates – the September and October administrations – to take the test. If you’re not planning to apply early, then the December ACT test date will still work, but that should definitely be a last resort – by that time, you should be focusing on completing your applications and finishing the first semester of your senior year as strongly as possible.

I highly recommend that you avoid taking the December ACT during your senior year unless absolutely necessary. Also, it’s not too late for current juniors to sign up and prepare for the June test, so don’t think you have only the fall to consider. The best thing you can do is pick an upcoming date, block off your calendar, and get going now!

When Should Juniors Take the ACT?

If you’re entering your junior year, you have many more options, so it’s important to take advantage of these choices and to select your ACT test date carefully. When considering which ACT test date to choose, think about the big picture and be realistic about when you will be best prepared to take the ACT. That means considering your schedule and what else will likely be happening in the weeks leading up to the test. For starters, ask yourself the following types of question:

  • What’s going on during the weekend of that ACT test date? Is there a big game or other event on the Friday night before the test?
  • What about the week before? Is it likely that you will have mid-semester exams or a heavy workload in the week leading up to the test?
  • How will that ACT test date fit in with other standardized tests (APs, SAT subject tests, etc.) that you may be taking around the same time?
  • And above all else, will you be able to prepare adequately to perform to the best of your ability on the ACT test date tha