As is true with most of the tasks around the college admissions process, researching information about the ACT and putting together a plan of action early is critical to keeping stress levels low.
As per ACT, Inc.'s current policy, students can take the ACT up to 12 times and their scores will remain valid for 5 years from the date of the test.
While having the ability to test multiple times is a great stress reliever in the testing game, I don't recommend maxing out your ACT testing opportunities for 2 reasons...
1. You may be forced to share anemic first ACT scores with your favorite colleges.
While ACT, Inc. allows students to select which test dates they share with colleges via the Score Choice feature, some colleges require that students submit all of their ACT scores in order to be considered for admission.
In other words, you can't use Score Choice if you want to apply to colleges that don't allow you to take advantage of that option.
Further, since most students take the ACT before they've finalized their college list, you can discover this unpleasant surprise long after you've logged a sub-par score into the official record.
Instead of rolling the dice and taking an official ACT just to see how you'll do, make sure you've benchmarked your ACT score for free at home before ever facing a real exam. (More on how to do that in a moment...)
2. It's a waste of time, money, and energy.
I've been helping students prepare for the ACT for over 12 years now and if there's one thing I can say with complete confidence it is this: there is nothing more defeating than retaking a test and seeing little to no progress.
And yet many students think that simply testing again will lead to improved results.
The sad truth is that it usually doesn't.
Unless you are actively preparing for the ACT, your scores won't improve much. Taking the test over and over without tweaking your strategic approach or reviewing academic concepts is a recipe for disappointment.
However, ACT, Inc.'s generous 12 test policy leads a lot of students to do just that. They sacrifice a lot of Saturday mornings and hundreds of dollars in registration fees that a little bit of planning could've helped them avoid.
To make sure this doesn't happen to your family, I'd love to share with you the ideal way to go about taking the ACT so you can take get your higher scores in as few test dates as possible.
So instead of focusing on how many times you can take the ACT, let's ask how many times you should take the ACT.
How many times should you take the ACT?
While the official policy allows you to take the ACT up to 12 times, for the sake of everyone's sanity my advice is to have students plan to take the exam at least 2 times on back-to-back test dates after completing some preparation.
In my experience, the ideal testing plan looks something like this:
- Step 1: Take a free practice ACT at home to get a sense of your student's starting score. (You'll find 2 free practice tests here.)
- Step 2: Research a few of your favorite colleges' average ACT scores for accepted students. Bonus points if you take a peek at their scholarship requirements too. After all, there are thousands of dollars hiding in your ACT score - often for lower scores than you may expect.
- Step 3: Assess the difference between your student's starting score and target score and decide on an ACT prep program that will help you bridge that gap.
- Step 4: Register for 2 back-to-back ACT test dates (ex: April and June or September and October) so you can maximize your testing efforts as close as possible to your prep experience. I also advise keeping a 3rd potential test date in reserve just in case you decide you want to try to snag a few elusive points a bit later...
At the end of the day, the goal is to test as few times as possible to get the scores you need to get the things you want - namely, admission to your favorite colleges and scholarship dollars to help you pay for the experience.
That's my focus here at Higher Scores Test Prep. Both of my online ACT prep courses are designed to walk you through the steps of this process - helping you come up with your testing plan, improve your ACT scores, and maximize your scholarship awards - in as few as 4 hours.
You can head to my ACT prep page to learn how I can help your family get through the ACT testing process as quickly as possible or enter your email below to get started on the path to your higher ACT score for free right now.
Either way, I look forward to helping you take your next steps towards testing success.
Have an ACT testing question? Click here to send me an email. I'm happy to help you make sure you're on the path to ACT testing success!