Figuring Out the Perfect Date for your ACT

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After high school, many students choose to continue their studies in pursuit of a Bachelor’s degree in some area of interest. Of course, figuring out exactly what you want to dedicate your time toward during the undergraduate studies is a different question and one that many students are fighting with prior to starting their journey. We have all been asked what we want to be when we grow up, but life goes quite fast and personalities develop as time continues forward causing changes in interests, strengths and goals. Pursuing an undergraduate degree opens up many doors for future career paths and also allows you to develop necessary skills for later in life. The first step toward this dream is to conquer the ACT, which is highly weighted on applications for universities around the world. Be sure to treat the preparation process seriously as the exam is not one to be taken lightly.

The application process can certainly cause anxiety and stress due to the amount of requirements and paperwork. One of these requirements is most likely an ACT score with the desired mark varying depending on the school. Choosing your test date carefully is important as your ACT score will need to be sent with your application, which of course needs to be submitted before or on the deadline. Some important things to keep in mind when booking your test date would be your personal schedule and how it conflicts with your preparation plan along with how long it takes for your official scores to be received by the admission departments. We have laid out some general advice on how to figure out the optimal ACT test date considering all of the important external and personal factors.

  1. Research and set your application deadline
    Since gaining admission into your school of choice is the main goal, figuring out when you have to submit your application is of utmost importance. This should be the first step as it sets the tone for the preparation period and allows you to start developing a curriculum and study schedule. Students should aim at putting in around 40 hours of preparation for the ACT that is spread out over 1.5-3 months prior to your test date. The ACT is only offered 7 times every year, so it is very important to set your test date early and start planning your preparation. While it is always advantageous to leave yourself time for a second attempt in case something goes wrong the first time around, and is actually normal for students to take 2-3 attempts on the ACT, it is critical to know your application deadline and consecutive test dates, which are a minimum of 1 month apart. Give yourself the best chance of succeeding on the ACT by knowing your application deadlines far ahead of time and using that information to thoroughly plan your preparation schedule while leaving yourself a buffer for a potential second attempt.

  2. Allocate your resources in an efficient, yet realistic manner
    The ACT can certainly cause stress and anxiety as it is the first standardized test for many high school students and has many implications for furthering one’s academic career. That being said, students should come into it with a solid preparation plan and motivation. The skillset developed by promoting self-motivation while holding yourself accountable for carrying out the study plan you have set for yourself will transcend into other academic and personal endeavors. To start things off, it is important to distribute your time and energy properly to maximize study time and attain a high score, which is required for admission into many universities. Take a deeper look at your individual productiveness when studying in regard to time of the day and overall ability to retain information using various techniques. Once you have an idea of your peak productive study times, set your ACT study sessions during those same periods every week. Of course there are external factors that can prohibit the scheduling of sessions, but it may be worthwhile to put some things on hold in order to allocate more time to your preparation schedule to increase your chances of scoring highly on the ACT. Figure out your schedule and test date early so that you can implement an effective and efficient preparation plan that will put you one step closer to conquering the ACT.

  3. Are you ready to start your undergraduate studies?
    It is certainly common for students to start their bachelor’s studies immediately following graduation from high school, but it could be worth looking into taking a gap year to make sure that you go into your first year of undergraduate studies with a fresh mind and body. Taking a gap year should not be looked down upon as it allows students to engage in self-reflection and can help come to a clearer decision about what kind of academic path one might want to pursue and whether even higher education is a part of that plan. There is also a common misconception that gap years are generally unproductive, but it is possible to gain valuable work and life experience that can serve as a great benefit for the undergraduate years. Or you could use the time to go on a trip and explore, pick up a long lost hobby or special interest before committing the next 4-5 years to study. It is imperative to remember that the ACT is an obstacle you will have to overcome no matter when you decide is the right time so keeping an effective study plan in mind is necessary. That being said, it is perfectly reasonable to send out your applications and attend college fresh out of high school and can sometimes even be advantageous as you have a bit of a head start. Give yourself the chance to mull over how an academic degree fits into your larger future plan before rushing into the next steps. This will give you the chance to figure out how to most effectively allocate your time and energy to both the preparation process and an academic discipline that will keep your interest long term. After spending time on figuring out this aspect of life, it is time to design your individualized curriculum that will help you attain a competitive ACT score and improve your admission application.

  4. Finalize your ACT test date as early as possible
    The ACT is only offered 7 times every calendar year, so it is important to register early in order to reserve a spot on your preferred date. This is especially noteworthy as you need to be physically present at a location to take the exam, which means there are only a limited number of seats available. It could be that your school offers the ACT, which is a great alternative and should be checked. By booking your test date early, you will relieve yourself of a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety as you can begin planning your preparation and know exactly when you have to sit for the ACT. Visit, which is the official ACT website, and make yourself aware of the test dates, locations and rules for test day in order to make the process as easy as possible allowing for more focused, productive preparation.

  5. Pinpoint your perfect start time
    While it is quite easy to research application deadlines for your preferred schools, it is also possible that they have late or alternate application deadlines that should be taken into consideration. Know whether you want to apply for the Spring or Fall semester will help you start creating your preparation curriculum and having a buffer with regard to late registration will give you the flexibility of postponing your application in case something does not go according to plan and reduce stress and anxiety. If you do postpone, make sure you know when the next logical exam date would be since the ACT is only offered 7 times each year. Remember that is it not uncommon for students to take the exam multiple times and does not have any impact on your application. It is ok if you are limited to a narrower time range due to your schedule and availability, but you just need to carefully plan the preparation time and starting early will give you an advantage when it comes to this process. Take the time to research application deadlines and alternatives and how they line up with the various exam dates offered in your area. This will allow you to mentally feel prepared through a thorough preparation plan in a set time window without having to worry about how unexpected circumstances will alter your timeline as you have the buffer of flexibly customizing your curriculum through an early start!

  6. Make sure you have a buffer for a second try
    Taking the ACT multiple times is completely acceptable and will actually help you mentally prepare if you know that it is not “one and done”. Unusual things can certainly happen on test day that affect your performance and you don’t want to leave yourself thinking how much better you could have done. You can even look at the first attempt at the ACT as a trial run and then adjust your preparation going forward with new critical information gained from sitting for the actual exam. You also need to ensure that you give yourself enough time between attempts to adjust your study plan and effectively improve on those areas of weakness to deliver your best performance the next time around. The ACT organization allows you to take the ACT as many times as you want so you could even go for 3rd or 4th attempts if you have the flexibility when it comes to application deadlines and while you will most likely not need so many attempts, it can ease your mind to know that this is possible. Just remember to leave yourself enough time to properly prepare between attempts as the study period between attempts is highly valuable and will focus in even more on your strengths and weaknesses discovered from taking the ACT for the first time. Give yourself the best chance at succeeding on the ACT by putting in effective study sessions based on your specific areas of improvement and check test dates early so that you can reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with taking such an important exam!

Don’t take scheduling your ACT test date lightly as this dictates your complete study schedule and curriculum. Try to look at the process of scheduling the date both analytically and realistically to give yourself the best opportunity to thoroughly plan and prepare your study sessions. Of course every test taker has unique learning methods and ways of retaining information so be sure to begin the process of figuring this out so you can implement it into your prep. Although many ACT test takers have busy schedules with school and extracurriculars, try to clear up time for your study sessions at your peak learning times, which will greatly improve how effective your retention of the ACT content will be while actually learning it. The location is also a large factor, so create a space where you can use your full concentration on the material in front of you. This may all sound daunting, but with the ACT having so much weight on future academic and professional endeavors, it is certainly worth taking the time out of your schedule and putting in maximum effort in order to achieve the highest score possible for you.

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Figuring Out the Perfect Date for your ACT


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