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How Many Times Can You Take the ACT?
As you study, you may be wondering how many times you can take the ACT. It can be nerve-racking thinking that your one attempt at a test might be your only shot. Luckily, you have up to 12 opportunities to take the ACT in search of a better score.
Now that you know how many times you can take the ACT, let’s dig into how to use this information. We’ll go over how many times students typically take the test, how scores typically improve, how you can use the ACT superscore to your advantage, and help you strategize how best to balance your SAT and ACT preparations. Let’s get into it!
How many times do students typically take the ACT?
Although you could take the ACT up to 12 times, most students take the ACT between 2-3 times. Even if you are happy with your first score, there’s a good chance you could score even one point higher by taking it again. That point would make it worthwhile; it might put you over the edge for a scholarship or admissions decision.
If you take the test more than 2-3 times, don’t worry. Colleges will not view this as a negative. Keep in mind that you do not have to send a school all your ACT scores. Once you have a score that you are happy with, and you are confident that you can’t improve it, you can move on from the ACT.
Preparing for the ACT
Preparing for the ACT is a long process that is best begun early. Below we’ve put a couple tips and strategies to help you prepare!
Take practice tests
We do recommend taking at least one ACT practice test beforehand. These tests offer individualized feedback that can help you pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll get a question-by-question breakdown of your results. You’ll also start to get an idea of how to pace yourself during the test and even feel more confident knowing how the test is laid out and how to use the answer sheet. You can use this information to fine-tune your performance on the real test.
Find a tutor
If you and your family have access to a test prep budget, we highly recommend finding a good tutor. You’ll want to find someone who meets you where you are and suits your learning style. Make sure to devote a set amount of time for practicing every day.
Study with a strategy
Early in your ACT test-taking, you may want to focus on studying areas where you don’t feel as strong. For example, tightening up a couple basic skills in algebra could really help you in the math section. However, if you’ve taken a couple of ACT exams and you see your math score remains the same, you may consider actually looking at the areas you did well and seeing if you can improve further. Since you already have a strong grasp of these subjects, you may find it’s easier to get more points in those areas versus struggling with an area that isn’t your strength.
Free online resources
Students without a test prep tutor also have a lot of free resources at their disposal to study. The ACT has assembled a great host of resources to help you study. If you find you are distracted by the computer, you can try printing some of these out, or buying an ACT prep workbook. These are typically much more affordable than a tutor. Becoming familiar with the subject matter and flow of the exams is a crucial step towards success on the test. There are also popular test prep companies that offer some free resources. Kaplan and the Princeton Review offer an assortment of free resources that can help you prepare for the ACT.
When to start taking the ACT
Knowing when to start taking standardized tests is often the hardest part. We recommend students start taking practice ACTs as early as possible. This way, you can get a picture of your strengths and weaknesses early on. You’ll have more time to create a learning plan with yourself or your tutor. Make sure you know when all the ACT test dates are as well, so that you can create an accurate picture of your timeline.
Beginning to take the real ACT early on is also a good idea. We recommend that you take your first ACT in your junior year. In case you take the test on an off-day, you’ll want several opportunities to retake it if necessary. If you take it early, you’ll have many opportunities to retake it whenever it best suits you.
Create a goal
While there’s no way to guarantee you’ll receive a certain score, it can still be helpful to have a goal score in mind. Start by assessing the average ACT scores for your state. From there, look at the average scores for students admitted to the colleges you’re applying to. Remember, these are averages, so there are plenty of students who score above or below the number you see; don’t be discouraged if you see a score that feels like a lofty goal. Of course every student would want to receive a perfect score, but it’s just not realistic. Assess how much time you have to study, and the factors above to create a more realistic picture of what you might receive. Additionally, examine the scores from your practice tests to help determine your score as well!
Will my score improve?
While it’s impossible to be sure whether your score will improve, colleges will always consider your highest score. You always have the option of submitting your best score. Furthermore, there is a good chance that your score will improve if you use your previous results to focus your studying. If you know what you need to work on it and you put in the time, you should perform better.
Related: Advice for low test takers
One of the greatest advantages to taking the ACT multiple times is the possibility of a superscore. Some colleges will allow you to submit a superscore, which is a combination of the highest scores you got on each section, across every time you took the test. That means your superscore may be higher than any of your individual test scores.
Let’s say you take the ACT 3 times. You get the same overall score each time – a 30. But let’s say you scored a 32 on math the first time, a 32 on science the second time, and a 32 on reading the third time. Your superscore will be a 32 — a whole 2 points higher than any individual score.
So, if you are applying to superscore schools, each time you take the ACT, you’ve got a good chance of improving your score. In situations like these, it might make sense to take the test 3 or more times.
Considering other tests
While the SAT and ACT share many similarities, there are some key differences. Most students tend to perform a bit better on one or the other. Make sure to consider both tests and see which plays to your strengths. Some of the key differences between the two are:
It’s a good idea to try your hand at both. If you take practice tests early on, you can see which suits you better. Then, you can tailor your studying towards that exam. If you’d like more information about the SAT, we have articles about how many times you can take the SAT, what an SAT superscore is and a list of SAT test dates!
Frequently asked questions about how many times you can take the ACT
How many times can I take the ACT in a year?
Which ACT test is the hardest?
Is a perfect score on the ACT or the SAT harder?