ACT Standby Testing

So you totally forgot about the ACT coming up… which you need for college applications and potential scholarships! What are you gonna do?

Luckily, there’s a helpful hack called ACT Standby Testing!

In brief: ACT standby testing is a process that may allow you to take the ACT on a particular date, even if you’ve missed the late deadline. You’ll have to sign into your ACT account online to request standby status, and there is a $49 fee. Keep in mind that you only have a limited period of time in which to register for standby testing before the test date. The latest you can register is usually just over a week before the test.

Now, let’s take a closer look…

Why would I need standby testing?

Some students forget to sign up for the ACT on time, or might not realize they need to take the ACT on a particular date. There is a late registration date and fee, but if you miss even the late registration date, the ACT will still try to accommodate you. Or, you might have missed the late deadline to request a different testing date or location.
If this is your last chance to retake the ACT or if you really need to take the ACT right now to stay on track with college applications, then standby testing might just be the lifesaver you need!
Basically, standby testing means you have a special ticket that doesn’t automatically guarantee you a seat and test. After all other students are checked in, if there is extra room and materials, you might be able to take the ACT.
But, keep in mind that standby testing only accommodates standard testing materials and standard time. Unfortunately, if you need special testing accommodations, you’ll need to sign up in the before the standby testing window.

How do I sign up for standby testing?

If you’ve decided that you absolutely have to take the upcoming ACT, instead of waiting for the next offered test, you can request standby testing. There’s only a very limited window for standby requests, so you’ll have to act fast! The Standby Request Period lasts for around two weeks, and it ends about one week before the ACT. So if it’s a Tuesday and you’re trying to get in the ACT this weekend, it’s too late! Requests for standby testing won’t be accepted after the standby request window closes.
To request a standby ticket, create an ACT student account or log in. Fill out all the required information online, including a current photo of yourself, and make sure to submit payment. You’ll have to pay for both the ACT and the current $49.00 standby fee. (If you qualify for a fee waiver, it only applies to the basic registration fee, not standby fees.) The standby fee is pretty hefty, so only go for the standby option if it is really necessary!

Will I actually get in as a standby?

On the day of the ACT, you’ll bring your photo ID and other prep materials (water bottle, pencils…) just like you would with a regular registration. But, you’ll bring the standby ticket instead of a normal admission ticket, of course. You have to print out your standby ticket, and you have to go to the testing center you registered for! If you show up on the wrong date or with a ticket for the wrong location, you won’t be able to take the ACT.
Since standby test takers are allowed in on a first-come, first-serve basis, you still might not get in. Even if there are extra seats and tests, if there are more standby students than tests, someone else might get in ahead of you. If you don’t get in, your standby won’t apply to any other test dates–you’ll have to go through the whole process again. Luckily, the ACT does refund the standby fee if you aren’t able to get in.

Other Standby Tips

  • Don’t try to get standby testing if you can take just the ACT another time.
  • Try to stay ahead of the testing season by marking test and registration dates on your calendar.
  • Register for the ACT as soon as you know which test dates you need!
  • Bring all required materials! The last thing you want is to not get in because you forgot your ID.
  • Stay calm! Make to study, get a good night’s sleep before your test, and be confident! You got this!



  • Emily Faison

    An avid reader and art enthusiast, Emily has degrees in English from Florida State University and Southeastern University. When she's not editing web content for a local magazine, you’ll probably find her catching up on her Netflix queue or reading a novel with a fresh cup of coffee at a local cafe.

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

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