When should I take the ACT?

When should I take the ACT?

Today we are going to answer one question that many students and parents ask us, “When should I take the ACT?” Due to the competitiveness of college admissions, many students (and parents) want to take the ACT as soon as possible. The one issue that we run into is that many students take the ACT too early.

Sophomore Year

Notice we skipped freshman year. The ACT test is designed for 11th and 12th grade students, and freshmen are generally not cognitively prepared to take the ACT. I know you occasionally hear about some eighth grader who got a perfect score, but this the exception, not the rule. Just because you see it on YouTube doesn’t mean it’s happening a lot.

So, what about sophomores? In general, we advise sophomores to wait to take the ACT for the same reasons as 9th graders. Tenth grade should be a time when students are really focused on mastering basic skills in Math, Science, and English. The best prep that can be done now is to work hard in school. The better your basic skills, the better your future ACT score will be.

However, some students at the 10th grade level can perform well on the ACT. If you are a student placed in Math and English honors classes your sophomore year, you may want to consider taking the ACT at the end of your 10th grade school year. To ensure that you have seen enough math to be successful, you should be finishing Algebra II your Sophomore year.

On another note, if you are an honors student you may want to consider spending time prepping for the PSAT and shooting for National Merit honors instead.

Junior Year

This is the year when you should take the ACT at least once. Most juniors first take the ACT sometime in the spring. On the other hand, some juniors want to take a fall ACT test just to get an idea of where they are and create a baseline score. Keep in mind that students in Algebra 2 may underperform on the math if taken too early. Our advice is to take your own practice test to get a baseline score in fall of your junior year. This will tell you how much you need to prep for the test later.

By the time spring of junior year rolls around juniors should be focusing on taking the ACT and getting prepped in some way. ACT prep can take the form of prep classes, self-study books, personalized tutoring or online classes. Each student will need to determine what works best for their personal needs, including how they learn best and scheduling concerns. If you are looking for a convenient class to take, consider our online course. The average improvement from our online course is 4 points. 

We recommend juniors take the ACT two times during the spring. If available ordering the Test Information Release from the ACT is advised. 

Senior Year

By fall of senior year, students are applying to college and know what ACT scores are necessary for acceptance to their school of choice. Many seniors will need to take the ACT at least one more time, maybe two, to achieve admission status or various scholarship levels. You must keep deadlines in mind for the colleges that you are applying. Prepping now is encouraged for students who have not done any prep. Many Seniors that prepped in the spring of junior year will want to review any materials to ensure a steady increase in scores and not have a drop off from earlier ACT test. Keep in mind that this will be a busy and potentially stressful time for students. Taking advantage of the July ACT test date may work for many Seniors. Also consider scholarship deadlines. Seniors may have the opportunity to continue taking the ACT until the spring to meet certain scholarship requirements after being accepted to their school of choice.

If you are prepping for the ACT, we highly recommend working with a certified teacher and a test prep expert. The Extra Point ACT Prep has multiple prep options and we would like to offer you a discount on our online ACT Prep course. Click the link below.



In the end, our experience is that students who put in the time and effort can get the “extra point” that they need. Good luck on your ACT journey.

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