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Kristin Fracchia

Are You Taking Your ACT on Saturday?

The next ACT exam is this Saturday, December 10th, at 8am!

Are you ready?




So … yeah? GOOD. 🙂

Now that you’re a mere two days away from the ACT exam, it’s time to get organized. Ready for some sage advice?

Advice for ACT Test Day

1. Don’t Be Late

First things first. Don’t be late.

Imagine rushing around the morning of your exam, forgetting your admission ticket at home, getting lost on your way to the testing center, and arriving flustered. This alone can ruin your ACT score. Having a good, calm mindset is really important for your success on standardized tests.

So, just for this one Saturday, aim to arrive nice and early.

In order to make this happen, it’s good to know what time you’re supposed to report for the ACT (8am). Next, calculate how much time you need to wake up, calmly get ready, eat a healthy breakfast, and get to the testing center. Maybe even add an extra 15 minutes to your normal schedule, and set your alarm accordingly. Then set a backup alarm.

Seriously, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

2. Know Your Route

Figure out where your testing center is ahead of time.

You can find the location on your ACT Admission Ticket. Take some time to look up the location on Google Maps (or MapQuest if you’re old school) and figure out the best route to get there. Make sure your car has a full tank of gas. Maybe even ask a parent to drive you so that you have extra time to relax in the morning.

If it takes 20 minutes to get there from your house, leave 40 minutes before the test starts. It’s important to give yourself some wiggle room so you don’t get thrown by unexpected delays. You can always listen to some pump-up music in the car before checking in.

3. Pack Accordingly

Pack your ACT bag now, while you’re thinking about it. If you wait until Saturday morning, you could run out of time, forget something, or misplace something (car keys!!!!). Better to get it out of the way while you’re calm.

The bag or backpack that you bring will probably be left in the corner of the classroom where you’re taking the test. Make sure that you can differentiate it from the backpacks of all your fellow test takers, and that you don’t mind leaving it out of sight (this is what Jansport backpacks are made for).

Use this bag for all your non-essential ACT materials (cell phone, snack, water, lucky rabbit’s foot, etc.)

Pro Tip: Use a clear gallon Ziploc bag for everything that you’ll keep at your desk. (Yeah, I know, this is oddly specific, but bear with me!) Cheating is taken very seriously during the ACT exam, and proctors are hyper-aware of what students have at their desks. If you keep your pencils, calculator, admission ticket, and ID in a clear Ziploc bag, you can be sure to have all the essentials in one, organized, unsuspicious place.


I know. You’re welcome. 🙂

What to pack:

  • A printed copy of your admission ticket
    • Your admission ticket is just as important as your ID. First of all, it includes all the information you’ll need to get to your ACT test on time (location of test center, where to park, which entrance to use, etc.)
    • Second, your ticket includes a box of “Matching Information,” which you’ll have to copy into your test booklet. If you copy the wrong information, your score reports will be delayed for as long as 8 weeks. Don’t let it happen to you!
  • Acceptable form of photo ID
    • This has to be the original form of your ID, not a photocopy or picture, and your name has to be in English. Some forms of acceptable identification include your current official photo ID, driver’s license, state ID, plastic school ID, and ACT Student Identification Letter with Photo.
    • Some forms of unacceptable identification include a printed copy of your student ID, your ACT ticket by itself, your birth certificate, credit cards, diplomas, learner’s driving permits, and employer-issued IDs.
  • Several sharpened No. 2 pencils with good erasers
    • Bring extras, because pencils break and erasers get used up quickly. A good rule of thumb is to pack 3 pencils. No pens!!!
  • Calculator with fresh batteries
    • Not all calculators are allowed at the ACT. Be sure to read the official calculator policy and make sure that your calculator complies. If your calculator resembles a computer, it’s probably not allowed.
    • Also, don’t forget to pack a new set of batteries, or put new batteries in your calculator before the test. It’s unlikely that your calculator will die during the exam. But, what if it did?! It’s too awful to think about.
  • Snack and water
    • You’ll get a short break after the first two sections of the ACT. You won’t be allowed to use your cell phone, and you might not be allowed to eat or drink anything in the test room. But, if your proctor allows you to have a snack, be prepared! A granola bar, some peanut M&Ms, or your favorite sugary snack would taste so perfect in that moment.
  • Cell phone – TURNED OFF
    • Some tutors advise their students to leave their cell phones at home, to prevent any suspicion of cheating (the ACT is pretty strict about “prohibited behavior” during the test). I think it’s okay to bring your phone, as long as a) it’s turned off (you can even remove the battery to be extra sure) and b) no one sees it until the ACT exam is completely over. Keep it in your backpack and don’t take it out.


Last Minute ACT Resources

If you’re feeling a bit nervous, please know that you’re not alone. Taking the ACT is a big endeavor, but it’s one that many students have conquered. We may not be able to tell you exactly which questions you’ll come across (we wish), but the format and general content of the exam is not at all mysterious.

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To ease your nerves, take a look at some of these helpful posts:


Final Piece of Advice

Relax! This will all be over soon. Take the next couple of days to prep, relax, eat right, exercise, and get yourself mentally and physically ready for the task ahead. Best case scenario: all goes well, and you never have to take this test again. Worst case scenario: you use your experience to ace your ACT retake.

If you have any burning questions or concerns, feel free to leave us a comment below. We’ll get back to you ASAP.

Good luck! 🙂 You’re days away from relaxation!



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About Kristin Fracchia

Kristin makes sure Magoosh's sites are full of awesome, free resources that can be found by students prepping for standardized tests. With a PhD from UC Irvine and degrees in Education and English, she’s been working in education since 2004 and has helped students prepare for standardized tests, as well as college and graduate school admissions, since 2007. She enjoys the agony and bliss of train running, backpacking, hot yoga, and esoteric knowledge.

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