ACT Last Minute Tips: What to Bring on Test Day | Video Post

last minute ACT - Magoosh

With the February 2019 ACT test date approaching, now’s the time to go over last minute ACT tips—and we’re here to help you make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible on your big day!

In this video, Magoosh’s ACT expert Kat will review the 10 things you should definitely bring with you on the day of the ACT. After all, you wouldn’t want to be turned away from the testing center just because you didn’t have the right kind of ID or calculator!

Just click on the embedded video below to watch “ACT Last Minute Tips: What to Bring on Test Day”.

…Or scroll down for a full video transcript. 🙂

What Will I See in the “ACT Last Minute Tips: What to Bring on Test Day” Video?

In this free video, Kat goes over ten must-have things you should bring with you on test day:

    1. Bags!
    2. #2 pencis!
    3. Calculator!
    4. Your registration ticket!
    5. Snacks and water!
    6. Valid photo ID!
    7. An analogue watch!
    8. Layered clothing!
    9. Tools for your tools!
    10. Directions to your testing center!

If you like the video, don’t forget to hit Like, and subscribe to the channel for more study tips. And if you have any questions about how to prepare for your ACT retake, write to us in the video comments section, and we’ll answer with advice! 🙂

“ACT Last Minute Tips: What to Bring on Test Day” Full Transcript

Hi, I’m Kat and I’m the ACT expert at Magoosh.

I’ve been teaching and tutoring students for over 15 years and I love helping students ace the ACT.

Today we’re gonna be talking about ten things that you absolutely need to bring with you on testing morning.

Number 1, bags.

Okay, so it actually is not that uncommon to see students coming to the testing center with their pencils in their hands, trying to fumble with their keys and so forth.

You actually don’t have to go that far.

It is okay to have a backpack with you.

I highly recommend you get one.

Find something really simple, something with one main compartment, maybe a front compartment.

But you don’t want a ton of little zippers to deal with.

Make sure it’s cleaned out, keep it really simple.

Now, you might have noticed, I didn’t say bag, I said bags, and that’s because the other thing I really recommend you get are some quart-size Ziplock bags.

And that’s gonna make it really easy to quickly take things in and out of your backpack during your break, okay?

There are certain things you can have during your break that you can’t have during the test and by having things in Ziploc bags, you can grab them really quickly.

Number, two pencils and many of you know, not only is this tip number two, you need to bring number two pencils.

What a lot of people don’t realize is you cannot use mechanical pencils.

These have to be the old fashioned, wooden kind.

Definitely have erasers with you.

I don’t recommend relying on the erasers on the back side of the pencil.

Bring at least one extra eraser.

In terms of how many pencils to have, I would say three is probably a good number to bring with you.

Number three, a calculator.

You can use a calculator during the entire math section of the ACT.

And actually most calculators are approved in the testing center, even graphing calculators, but you want to make sure that your calculator fits the requirements, okay?

So there are some exceptions.

There are some versions of calculators that are not accepted.

There are many websites including the official website that will give you a very thorough list of which calculators are and aren’t accepted.

Also, you cannot use the calculator on your cell phone.

And so if you’re in the habit right now of studying with the calculator on your cell phone, which I see many students do naturally, it’s how they do their math homework and so forth, break the habit now.

Start practicing with the actual calculator that you’re going to be using on the exam.

Number four is your registration ticket.

This is very important.

This is one where if you don’t have it, you cannot take the exam that day.

Okay, so when you registered for the exam, you were issued a ticket.

And in most cases they do send it to your home address.

It has a photo ID on it and you need to have an actual paper copy.

So this is not a situation where you can just have the app, you can just show it to them.

You need a paper copy and you can print it directly off the website.

So if you’re concerned about this you’re not sure where this registration ticket might have wound up go to the website, you can print another one.

This is one of the most important things to remember.

So have it with you, have it ready, know exactly where it is the morning of test day.

Number five, snacks and water.

During the actual testing experience, when you’re sitting there answering the questions, filling out the Scantron, you actually cannot have any food or water at your desk.

So what this means is that your one break that you get between the second and the third sections, so this is in between the math and the reading section, you have a short break, less than ten minutes.

And that is going to be key, because that’s when you’re going to refuel, you’re gonna get something to eat, and you’re also gonna get some water, which is really important at that point.

So, students ask what types of snacks are good to bring.

I recommend one protein minimum, and two carbohydrates minimum.

So some examples of proteins could be nuts, jerky, string cheese, maybe a protein shake.

Example of carbohydrates, I think it’s a good idea to have one slow digesting carbohydrate and then one that’s quick, all right?

So you want those slow-digesting to give you that stamina.

And you want something quick to give you a little bit of a jolt of glucose to your brain because, at that point, you’ve been using a lot of brain mental power.

And so some examples there could be maybe whole-grain crackers for slow digesting, and maybe for fast digesting, a banana, and whatever is going to work for you.

But make sure you have your snack, and make sure that you drink some water on that break.

Number six is a photo ID and a lot of students don’t realize that the photo ID is separate from the registration ticket, cuz your registration ticket will have your photo on it.

But addition to that you need to have a driver’s license or it could be a current passport.

It has to actually be the hard copy.

It can’t be an image of it.

And if you don’t have a driver’s license or passport, what you need to do is go to the website and do a search for student identification form, and you’ll print that out in its place,.

It is really important.

It’s is hard to emphasize how important this is.

My friend, her daughter actually forgot to bring an extra ID on test day and they send her back.

She got no refund, she had to wait for the next test.

So, they take it really seriously and so should you.

Seven is a watch, and this can’t be just any watch so most people maybe have a digital watch or maybe they use their fitness tracker.

You can’t have those items with you.

You want an old fashioned wind-up watch.

That’s what I recommend.

And the reason for this is, not only is this not going to beep during the exam, which is what the proctor’s going to be concerned about.

Anything that looks like it could beep, they might make you keep it in your backpack in the other room during the exam.

But these manual clocks, you can rewind them, so instead of having to do mental math and trying to figure out you know when’s 35 minutes up, at the beginning of each section, you can just put it at 12:00 and then keep track of minutes in a really simple way.

You will get a five minute warning.

Some will also even give you a ten minute warning, although they are not required to.

But it’s good practice to start working with a watch and definitely have it with you on exam day.

Number eight,, layers.

So you don’t know what the temperature’s gonna be like in this testing room and you don’t want to have to assume it’s going to be room temperature or remotely comfortable, even.

It could be freezing.

It could be really really hot.

So, I recommend you bring one light-weight shirt, so a t-shirt or something similar, and then two heavier layers.

One maybe, could be a heavier shirt or sweater, maybe a sweatshirt in addition to that.

You don’t know when the heat’s gonna go out,.

You don’t know when the air conditioner is going to go out.

If that were to happen in the testing room, they would just carry on with the test.

So don’t expect that it’s going to be the temperature that it normally would be in a classroom.

And also don’t expect that you’re going to be the temperature that you normally are in a classroom.

A lot of students don’t realize that when you’re stressed your body temperature can completely change and the direction is unpredictable.

So people who are normally hot get cold, people who are usually cold get hot.

Keep it simple for yourself and just make sure you have the one light layer and then two heavier layers.

Number nine is what I call tools for your tools.

So thinking back, some of the things you’re gonna have with you include your pencils, your calculator, your watch.

Well, all of these things sometimes need a little bit of maintenance.

Pencils can break.

Other things can run out of batteries.

And so you wanna have a pencil sharpener with you, as well as extra batteries, both for your calculator and for your watch.

Now, it’s true, you probably won’t need them, right?

Pencil sharpener, more chance that you will sharpen your pencil at some point.

Batteries not as likely but don’t take the chance.

You can just have them with you.

You can have them on your desk during each exam section.

And having them will give you peace of mind.

Okay, number ten and this is the one that I think students forget the most, honestly, and this is instructions to the test center.

Students at the last minute find themselves in the situation with, I mean, I know what building I’m going to, but how do I get there and what doors am I suppose to line up outside of?

Things like that.

Where’s the parking lot?

And what they do?

They start fumbling around on their phone, trying to pull up maps, trying to pull up the directions from the website.

That’s a mess.

It’s gonna stress you out.

It’s gonna cause a sense of chaos.

So instead, just go ahead and print it out.

Have a paper copy that has some kind of a map, the instructions, the directions.

And ideally, even go by, do the route the night before, or the day before.

Either way, make sure you do have this paper copy with you that says the address of the testing center, directions to the testing center, and also where you have to go, which doors you’re going to be lining up outside of.

So make sure you have all of these things ready.

Pack your backpack the night before.

Put it by the front door even.

And then you can sleep soundly and be super prepared on testing morning.

If you like this video, follow the link in the description below that will take you to, where you can join thousands of students who are using Magoosh to ace the ACT.

And if you want more last minute ACT tips, check out the videos on your left and I’ll see you in the next one.

Looking for more ACT strategies?

Why not check out some of our other free ACT resources for more tips and tricks to help prepare you for test day?

Good luck on the test! 🙂


  • Molly Kiefer

    Molly is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She designs Magoosh’s graphic assets, manages our YouTube channels and podcasts, and contributes to the Magoosh High School Blog.

    Since 2014, Molly has tutored high school and college students preparing for the SAT, GRE, and LSAT. She began her tutoring journey while in undergrad, helping her fellow students master math, computer programming, Spanish, English, and Philosophy.

    Molly graduated from Lewis & Clark College with a B.A. in Philosophy, and she continues to study ethics to this day. An artist at heart, Molly loves blogging, making art, taking long walks and serving as personal agent to her cat, who is more popular on Instagram than she is.


By the way, Magoosh can help you study for both the SAT and ACT exams. Click here to learn more!


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