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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 involved in taking and administering the ACT in Texas for both students and administrators/educators.

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.

Before Exam

Step 1: Pick the right test!

Students and administrators/educators can check out this handy 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!

School Day Administration
Over 200 districts have participated in ACT District Testing at least once in the last two years. ACT District Testing is an awesome 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 ACT School Day here. Students can learn more about taking the test during ACT School Day by speaking with their campus administrators.

Alternative Test Dates
Students may also take the exam on weekends if their school does not offer ACT District Testing. Students can register individually and choose their testing site. Additionally, beginning with the September 2020 test, ACT will be rolling out new changes to their national tests such as section retesting and superscoring.

Payment and Waivers
The passing of the landmark House Bill 3 (HB 3) 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)! Click here for more information. Additionally, eligible students may use fee waivers to pay for national testing.

Step 3: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!

Both the student and the teacher have an active role in exam preparation. Fortunately, ACT, Inc. has created several resources for both parties.

For students:

For teachers:

Exam Day

Step 4: Test!

It’s time to take the exam. Check out these links for what to expect on test day and a test day checklist about items to bring with you.

After Exam

Step 5: Evaluate scores!

Students and administrators can expect to receive scores within a month after taking the exam.

  • What do your 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.
Step 6: Apply to college!

Taking the exam is the hardest part. Once done, 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 array of public and private colleges and universities across all 50 U.S. states and 20 countries.
  • Scholarships – After using ApplyTexas and Common App, students can apply to more scholarships at a variety of different places. Millions of dollars go unclaimed every year, so students, parents, educators, and administrators should extensively research and remember to check out local scholarships!
  • College Scorecard -- What scoring requirements do colleges have? 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 16 if using a fee waiver.
  • ACT Scholarship Giveaway – Eligible sophomores, juniors and seniors who register for the ACT test between 9.3.2019 and 6.26.2020 are automatically entered for a chance to win. It’s that easy!  

2020-2021 ACT District Testing Administration Dates

  • October 6 (Initial) - Registration Deadline: August 14
  • March 2 (Initial, Online Option) - Registration Deadline: January 15
  • March 30 (Initial, Only Option) - Registration Deadline: February 12
  • April 20-22, 27-29 (Initial, Online Only) - Registration Deadline: March 12

2020-2021 ACT National Day Administration Dates

  • September 12, 13, 19 - Registration Deadline: August 31
  • October 10, 17, 24, 25 - Registration Deadline: September 17
  • December 12 - Registration Deadline: November 6
  • February 6 - Registration Deadline: January 8
  • April 17 - Registration Deadline: March 12
  • June 12 - Registration Deadline: May 7
  • July 17 - Registration Deadline: June 18

See ACT's website for more information on dates for test center closures, accommodations, makeup testing, online testing, and late registrations.

Contact Information

Advanced Academics
Phone: (512) 463-8823