What Time Does the ACT Start?

What Time Does the ACT Start - image by Magoosh

Start Time for the ACT

The ACT requires all students to report no later than 8:00 AM on test day. After all students are checked in and fill out their information on their test booklets and answer sheets, the actual test generally begins around 8:30 AM, although this can vary based on differences between testing locations and proctors.

So there’s your answer. But there’s a whole bunch more you should know about the timing of ACT test day:

What happens if I am late to the ACT?

There’s no set time to actually crack open the test, and some testing centers will be lenient with letting late arrivals into the test room if the test hasn’t officially begun, but I wouldn’t press your luck. This can be totally dependent on the whims of the administrator or proctor. You should plan to arrive to the test center between 7:30 and 7:45 to allow for any last minute delays.

What time are breaks on the ACT?

This is going to vary a little bit depending on how long your room takes to get settled. That’s why you’ll likely see students from other rooms happily skipping off to their bathroom breaks maybe even 10 to 15 minutes before time for your section is called. But, generally speaking, you can expect your first break to be around 10:30 AM and your second break (if you are staying on for the optional Writing test) to be around 11:50 or 12 PM.

What time does the ACT end?

If you are lucky enough to be at a testing center than runs like a well-oiled machine, you may wrap up as early as 11:30 AM for the ACT without writing. More likely is about 12:00-12:15 PM. If you are taking the ACT with writing, expect to be released between 12:45 and 1:15 PM.

What time is everything else happening on ACT morning?

Check out our ACT timetable! For those of you hugging your well-loved day-planners to your chest, you will love this minute-by-minute account of everything from when you should be eating your breakfast and doing a little light exercise in the morning to when you will be deep in the middle of the Science test.

What time does the ACT start for Non-Saturday Testing?

If you are taking the ACT on Sunday (or another day of the week) because of religious convictions, your testing schedule will be the same as it is for regular Saturday testing.

What should I do the morning of the ACT?

We are glad you asked :). Check out our ACT test day tips here. And for some last-minute study tips to help test day go smoothly, check out our post for the week before the ACT. Finally, if you need more practice before the test, check out our ACT prep!

Happy testing!


  • Kristin Fracchia

    Dr. Kristin Fracchia has over fifteen years of expertise in college and graduate school admissions and with a variety of standardized tests, including the ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, and LSAT, with several 99% scores. She had a PhD from the University of California, Irvine, an MA degree from The Catholic University, and BA degrees in Secondary Education and English Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park. She was the recipient of the 2013 Excellence in Teaching Award and the Chancellor’s Club Fellowship from the University of California, Irvine. She’s worked as a high school teacher and university professor, as an independent college and graduate school admissions counselor, and as an expert tutor for standardized tests, helping hundreds of students gain acceptance into premier national and international institutions. She now develops accessible and effective edtech products for Magoosh. Her free online content and YouTube videos providing test prep and college admissions advice have received over 6 million views in over 125 countries. Kristin is an advocate for improving access to education: you can check out her TEDx talk on the topic. Follow Kristin on LinkedIn!

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

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2 Responses to What Time Does the ACT Start?

  1. Kelly February 9, 2019 at 10:28 am #


    • Magoosh Test Prep Expert
      Magoosh Test Prep Expert February 11, 2019 at 7:05 pm #

      You’re welcome, Kelly!

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