If you’re reading this, you most probably have not taken the ACT and are wondering when you should take it.
It is always good to take it more than once so that you can create room for improvement, especially if you are not satisfied with your initial score.
But, when do I first take the ACT? What is a sufficient time gap between the first and second attempts?
Before we answer those questions, let’s focus on the main and most basic questions.
What is the ACT?
The ACT is a standardized test administered by the ACT Inc that is widely recognized for admissions in the United States. It costs $46, whereas the ACT with the optional writing component costs $62.50. For international students, there will be an additional cost of $55.50.
The ACT has a total score of 36 points. It consists of English, Math, Science and Reading sections. The ACT writing component is not a part of this. It has its own total score (12 points) and only consists of English and Reading. This is known as an ELA score (English Language arts). The duration of the ACT writing component is 40 minutes and you are recommended to write over a page.
Even though many colleges, including the top-ranked ones, do not require the ACT writing component, is it highly recommended to take it up. It can be greatly beneficial to furthering your skills and can add to your college application.
The reason why this skill is particularly different from what is demonstrated in the other aspects of your application is because of the way it puts your ability to think and write in a limited amount of time.
Now that you know what you’re getting yourself into, let’s figure out when you should actually take the ACT. There are many factors affecting this decision. First, let’s take a look at when students usually take the ACT for the first time.
A student typically takes the ACT two or three times in a span of two years (junior and senior year). So, the first time a student takes the test would either be during the fall or/and spring of their junior year. And then would repeat it during fall or/and spring of their senior year.
This gives them plenty of time to improve their score, focus on school, begin college applications, work on extracurriculars, come up with a plan etc.
Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind the dates for which the ACT is offered. In a year, they offer it 7 times (September, October, December, February, April, June and July).
This gives students the chance to take it multiple times, in case you felt like your performance was poor, or you felt sick the day before and couldn’t do well on the test.
So, you could take up the ACT along with most students during the fall of junior year, or you could decide to take it earlier.
Why do some students decide to take it earlier?
You are well prepared and are confident about acing it on the first attempt. If you believe that you have spent a sufficient amount of time practicing and studying for the ACT, then you might just take it up early and get it over with.
You want to have more options. If you take the ACT earlier, you will have plenty more test dates to take it up again and will have more than sufficient time to prepare for the second and third attempts. To experience taking the test under exam conditions.
You might want to experience that feeling of taking up the test in an examination hall with other students, under a strict time constraint, and see if you crack under pressure. This will help calm your nerves for the next attempt and help you feel well prepared.
However, there are some who take it later than usual.
Why do some students decide to take it later?
The key reason would be that you are not entirely prepared. With a lack of practice and knowledge of the syllabus, there is no point in taking the ACT. This would not only leave you disappointed when scores arrive, but also is an unnecessary expense.
Perhaps your college may require you to send the scores of all attempts. In that case, you want to make sure that your scores are decent and can show an improvement in the next few attempts.
There are a lot of things to take into consideration when deciding when to take the ACT, hence it solely depends on each person.
Do you think you can reach your target score if you take the test now or later?
If you have a target score in mind, take a few practice tests and try to assess yourself to see if your score reaches your ideal score.
Are you well prepared?
If you are confident that you will acquire your target score, go ahead and take it as soon as possible! If you are not, then take time to prepare, practice multiple tests and go into that examination hall with confidence and I’m sure you will do amazing.
Does my college require the scores of all attempts?
If you are required to send in all your score reports, you must be cautious of when to take the tests and then decide accordingly.
Will I have sufficient time to prepare to retake the ACT if I take the test later?
If you think that your performance in the first attempt may not be up to the mark, then you must give yourself enough time to be well prepared for the second attempt.
Take a moment, answer these questions, organize the other activities in your life, think about your priorities, and then make your decision accordingly. As long as you come up with a solid plan and stick to it, there shouldn’t be a problem.
However, do not overthink. Overthinking will only lead to unnecessary stress and indecisiveness. Go with your gut. You got this.