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Registering for the ACT isn't difficult, but you do want to make sure you plan ahead and have the information you'll need at hand. Before you begin registering, make sure you know the registration deadlines for the exam you plan to take. They tend to be about five weeks before the actual exam. It will also be useful to have a copy of your high school transcript when you register so that you have the school information you'll need for the form.
Step 1: Visit the ACT Website and Create an Account
Go to the ACT student website. Once you're there, click the "Sign In" button at the upper right of the page, then click on the "create account" option.
Next, set up an online account so you can do things like check your scores online, print your admission ticket to get into the testing center, make changes to your registration if you have to miss a test day, request more score reports, and more. You'll need two pieces of information before you create your account: your social security number and your high school code. The website will walk you through the steps of the process.
Note: Be sure to fill in your name just as it appears on your passport, drivers license, or another approved ID that you'll be bringing to the testing center. If the name with which you register does not match your ID, you will not be able to take the test on your scheduled test day.
Step 2: Register
Once you've created your student account, you need to click the "Register" button and proceed through the next several pages. You'll answer questions about the following:
- Personal information like left-hand vs. right-hand (so you get placed in an appropriate testing desk), religious affiliations, parental educational background, and disabilities. Remember, this is all voluntary information.
- A high school summary like the type of school you attended and courses you've taken. You'll also see questions about extracurricular involvement in high school.
- Your college plans such as preferences regarding school size, whether or not you plan to enroll full time or not, and college interests.
- Your specific testing date and location.
- Where you'd like your score reports to be sent. You can choose up to four colleges with the basic fee, so you'll save money if you've decided where you'd like them to go before you register.
- Intended future college major and career choices.
- You'll also be asked during this process to upload a current headshot. Make sure to follow the parameters exactly, or you could be banned from taking the ACT on test day. Both the photograph and the name on your identification are important pieces of information that ACT uses to make it difficult for anyone to cheat by having someone else take the exam for them.
If you're wondering why ACT wants some of this information when it has nothing to do with the actual test, realize that college admissions is a big business of trying to get students matched up with schools where they will succeed. ACT (and SAT) provide names to colleges of students who might be an appropriate match for those schools. The more information they have about your grades, courses, and interests, the better than can align your credentials with potential colleges. This is why after you take a standardized test, you're likely to start receiving lots of mail from colleges.
Step 3: Pay
Check out the current ACT fees before you test, and fill in your waiver or voucher number if you've received one. At the bottom of the page, click "Submit" just once, and you're done. You're then free to print your admission ticket. A confirmation will be sent to your email address.
Step 4: Prepare
You're in. Now, all you need to do is prep for the ACT just a little bit. Start by going though the ACT basics, and then running through these 21 ACT test strategies to help you perform as well as possible when test day rolls around. Then, try your hand at an ACT English quiz or Math quiz to see how you might respond to the real ACT questions. Finally, pick up an ACT prep book or two to help see you through the end. Good luck!
Updated and edited by Allen Grove