can you take the act online

With the recent announcement that the SAT will soon be moving online, you may be wondering about the other standard college admissions test: Can you take the ACT online? It’s a particularly hot topic, since the Covid-19 pandemic kept many students inside and learning virtually. It follows that ACT online testing might soon become available.

In this article, we will answer all your ACT online testing questions, and explain what the answers mean for you! But first, let’s address some frequently asked questions about the ACT that should help you as you prepare for your upcoming test.


When Do You Take the ACT? 

Most students take the ACT for the first time during the spring of their junior year. That way, you will have an entire school year to prepare and have time to retake the ACT if you so desire. Use Piqosity’s ACT test preparation materials to practice for the upcoming test.

Can You Retake the ACT?

Yes, you can retake the ACT. But, it may not be necessary. You might have already achieved an excellent score that aligns well with your goals. A lower score can work just fine, too, as long as it proves you can meet the academic expectations of the college of your choice.

There are a number of factors to consider before jumping into a second or third test date, like the cost of a second test, the time commitment, or the potential strain on your mental health. Check out the in-depth article linked above before making your decision.

ACT Test Dates

In the article linked above, we have compiled a list of upcoming ACT test dates. Remember, you will need to have your registration in before the deadline to ensure your spot and avoid possible extra fees.

In 2022, there is one test date in the spring, two more in the summer, two in the fall, and one in December. The ACT will announce 2023 test dates in the coming months.

Should I Take the ACT With Writing?

The writing portion of the ACT is optional, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should skip it.

First, check to see if it’s required: Nine states require this section to graduate high school, and five others states also require it in certain school districts. Only eight colleges in all of the United States require applicants to submit an ACT Writing score. Check out the list in the article linked above to learn if you have to take the ACT Writing section.

But even if it’s not required, taking the writing section of the ACT may still be in your best interest, since including this additional score can make you a more attractive prospect to colleges.

What is a Good ACT Score? 

This is a loaded question. The highest you can score on the ACT is a 36, but most students will be highly competitive with a 28 or higher. A “good” ACT score is one which helps you meet your goals. Research the colleges of your choice and learn what score they are looking for; then, aim for that score. Very few schools are only looking for students with a perfect 36 on their ACT.

So, Can You Take the ACT Online?

Without further ado, let’s get into ACT online testing.

Right now, ACT online testing is not available to take at home. It is only available at certain testing centers, under certain circumstances.

  • If you are a domestic student (residing in the United States) and want to take the ACT online, you can only do so at certain centers, in some districts, in a handful of states. Students can only take the ACT CBT on school-day test dates, not national test dates. Otherwise, you will take the ACT on paper.
  • If you are an international student, since September 2018 you can only take the ACT online. This version of the test is called the ACT Computer-Based Test (ACT CBT). The ACT CBT is only available at test centers and cannot be taken at home.

This is different from other standardized tests, like the ISEE, which can be taken at home. Schools make money from administering standardized tests like the ISEE, but the ACT and SAT fees are lower. The incentive for individual schools to administer these tests is lower, thus, most public school districts pay for the ACT/SAT.

Note: If you are a student with a disability or need a testing accommodation, ACT will still respect these needs if you are testing online. These accommodations will need to be documented before the test day, though, or you may be forced to reschedule.

What is the ACT Computer-Based Test (ACT CBT) Like?

Essentially, everything about the ACT CBT is the same as the paper ACT test. You will still have 4 or 5 sections, depending on whether or not you opt for the writing section of the ACT. You will have the same amount of time to complete each section. The scoring system also remains the same.

The only differences are the administration format, some helpful virtual tools, and a timer. Tools include a magnifier, highlighter, line reader, and answer eliminator. There is also an answer masking feature that allows you to focus on a specific answer choice. This helps eliminate distractions. These testing tools are very similar to the ones Piqosity uses in its own test preparation materials.

Now let’s compare some of the aspects of the ACT online test to its paper counterpart.

Potential Pros and Cons of ACT Online Testing

If you have a choice about taking the test online, consider the several benefits and disadvantages to the ACT CBT.

  • ACT CBT Scores are delivered much more quickly. Typical delivery for paper ACT scores is about 10 days. But, due to the ease of processing an online test, ACT CBT score delivery only takes 2 days.
  • If you take the writing section of the ACT, typing your essay (on the ACT CBT) may be more difficult than handwriting it (on the paper ACT). Depending on how fast you type, you may not have enough time to finish the section. On the other hand, if you struggle with writing by hand, you may prefer typing your essay!
  • On the ACT CBT, you don’t have to worry about making accidental marks on the paper, or not fully erasing wrong answers. The online format cleans this up nicely for you. The additional testing tools on the ACT CBT are really great, if you know how to use them.
  • The paper ACT is widely available. The ACT CBT is not offered in many placesyet.

For now, if you are a student within the United States, it’s probable that you will take the paper version of the ACT. So, make sure you prepare well for this type of format.

Prepare for the ACT with Piqosity!

Can you take the ACT online? If you are an international student, yes—you have to. If you are within the United States, it can happen in certain places. The bottom line is: for now, you will most likely take the ACT as a paper test. But regardless of how you’re taking the ACT, you’ll want to prepare as much as you can for the test content with Piqosity’s suite of online ACT test prep! Whether you’re in the process of preparing for your first ACT or you’ve already received your score report and want to know how to improve your ACT Score, Piqosity has you covered.

Joining Piqosity is FREE (no credit card information required, no sneaky fine-print trials). Start off with our mini diagnostic test to get a baseline score, and set realistic goals for your ACT success.

Then, figure out a plan for exactly how you’d like to study. You can continue to use many of Piqosity’s unique features and valuable resources as part of our FREE Community package. But, if you’re ready for the next step, you can choose among several competitively-priced test prep packages, you will have access to up to 10 complete ACT practice tests with answers and explanations.

You may also benefit from exploring our FREE series of deep-dive blogs dedicated to each section of the ACT:

Join Piqosity today for free, and you will be well on your way to ACT and college application success!

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