The ACT is an assessment created and administered by ACT, Inc. and has been used as a college admissions test since 1959. Students may take the ACT to gain entrance into a four-year university, obtain scholarships, and/or assess their readiness for freshman-level college coursework. TEA recommends six steps for students and educators to prepare for and administer the ACT.
TEA supports and aligns with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in their 60x30TX goal, which states that at least 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 will have a certificate or degree by 2030. By taking a college prep exam, such as the ACT, Texas students expand the number of postsecondary options available to them.
Step 1: Choose Which Test to Take
Students and administrators/educators can check out this useful comparison chart to identify similarities and differences between the college preparation assessments (SAT, ACT, and TSIA) and determine which one(s) is the best fit.
Step 2: Schedule and Register for Examination
School Day Administration
Over 200 school districts have participated in ACT School Day testing at least once in the last two years. ACT School Day offers an opportunity for students to take the assessment on their campus during the school day. By administering the assessment on a school day, districts/campuses increase access and reduce barriers for many students who may not be able to test on a Saturday (i.e., working students, students without transportation, etc.). Administrators can learn more about signing up for 2021-2022 ACT School Day here.
Weekend Test Administrations (National Day)
Students may also take the exam on weekends if their school does not offer ACT School Day. Students can register individually and choose their testing site.
Cost and Fee Waivers
House Bill 3 (HB 3), which passed in the 86th legislative session, permitted the state to reimburse districts for the amount of fees paid by the district for the administration of a college preparation assessment. This means that eligible students may take one SAT, ACT, or TSIA in the spring of their junior year or during their senior year for free (at state cost)!
The College Board
Additionally, eligible students may use fee waivers to pay for national testing.
Step 3: Prepare and Study
Both the student and the teacher have an active role in exam preparation. Fortunately, ACT, Inc. has created several resources for both parties.
- Free daily practice through MyACT.org
- Online sample test questions for English, math, reading, science and essay sections
- Free study guide that includes a full-length practice test, test-taking strategies, and a breakdown of test content
- Free test prep through Kaplan
- ACT Curriculum Review Worksheets - Interpret and evaluate test scores for classroom instruction
- Counselor Toolkit - Help students prepare for the ACT test
- ACT Knowledge Hub - Stay up to date through ACT's professional development to become familiar with the ACT
Step 4: Take the Test
Support for English Learners - ACT provides supports on the test to U.S. students who are English learners to ensure that the ACT scores earned by English learners accurately reflect what they have learned in school. To qualify, students must be enrolled in a school district's English Learners (EL) program.
ACT provides access to the ACT test for examinees through appropriate accommodations. More information on accommodations can be found by accessing the accommodations landing page.
Step 5: Evaluate Scores
Students and administrators can expect to receive scores within 3-8 weeks after taking the exam.
- What do the scores mean? Find resources for educators and students on how to interpret scores.
- Retake if needed! If students are unhappy with their scores, they can return to Step 3 and retake the assessment if needed.
- Administrators and educators can help celebrate student success with the ACT recognition club toolkits.
- ACT, Inc. recently rolled out new changes like superscoring, which considers the highest scores of each section on the test for students who take the test multiple times.
Step 6: Plan for Postsecondary and/or Apply to College
Once they've taken the exam, students should apply to universities and scholarships and discover endless possibilities.
- Apply Texas – Universal application platform for all Texas public institutions of higher education.
- Common App – Application platform for public and private colleges and universities across all 50 U.S. states and 20 countries.
- Financial Aid & Scholarships – Millions of dollars go unclaimed every year, so students, parents, educators, and administrators should extensively research financial aid options. Additionally, students can access SwiftStudent, a free digital tool that explains the financial aid appeals process.
- College Scorecard -This tool, created by the US Department of Education, allows students to search for college matches based on a variety of factors, including ACT score admission requirements.
- Send scores – If not done already, students should send scores to colleges. Students can send four free score reports or up to sixteen if using a fee waiver.
- Free ebook created by ACT on how to prepare for college in a virtual environment.
- Texas OnCourse - premier college and career planning website with middle school curriculum, advising training, data dashboards, student resources and more.