ACT testing costs depend very much on the type of ACT test you sign up for. There are two main kinds of ACT tests: ACT with Writing and ACT without Writing. Let’s delve into the costs for both, touching on how registration and additional services might also factor into figuring out how much does the ACT costs. This does not factor in costs for ACT prep courses, however. Though we do recommend you take advantage of as many prep options as possible.
You’ve probably heard that the writing section on the ACT is optional–and it is. That means not every student will take the essay portion of the test. In fact, the only reason to take the writing section on the ACT is if a college or university you’re applying to requires you to do so.
As of 2019, the ACT costs $50.50 if you take it without the Writing section (the essay). Included in that fee is the report that’s delivered to you, the report sent to your high school, and four reports to colleges of your choosing. You’ll need to provide those codes for colleges when you register.
Keep in mind, though, that because of ACT score choice, you may not want to send ACT scores to a college when you haven’t taken the test yet and have no idea how you’ll perform.
While some people like to send scores ahead of time as an indication of interest to a college, others like to hold back. The Score Choice policy will allow you to pick and choose which ACT scores you want included on your college application.
The drawback is that there’s a fee to send ACT scores after the fact. We will address that more in depth in the sections below.
Some colleges and universities require students to submit ACT scores with Writing. You can find out more about which schools require ACT Writing here.
As of 2019, the ACT costs $67.00 when you register for the ACT and the Writing test. Again, this fee includes your regular ACT score report and the one sent to your high school and four colleges of your choosing.
Think carefully, though, about sending scores to any college when you haven’t taken the test yet and are unsure of how well you’ll do.
If you sign up for the Writing test ahead of time and then find out you don’t need to take it, you can cancel the ACT Writing option ahead of time. The ACT will refund you “on written request if you are absent on test day or switch to ACT (no writing) before testing begins.” Don’t miss that: you can’t sign up for the Writing, take the ACT, and leave right before the essay section and then expect to have your $16.50 refunded.
Registering late for the ACT does increase how much the ACT costs, sometimes significantly.
The late registration fee for the ACT costs $30.00 in addition to your registration fees for the ACT with or without Writing. Changing your test date qualifies as a late registration, too, as does changing your test center on the same test date.
Once you’ve registered and changed your test date, the ACT costs $80.50.
The test date change fees are worth hearing about from the ACT organization itself:
“Test date change = $30.00. For different date only if absent or unable to test on the original date or if registration is cancelled for failure to meet ACT test security requirements. You must pay the basic registration fee for the new test date plus the test date change fee. If you request a date change after the regular deadline for the new date, you must also pay the late registration fee. Your basic registration fee for the original test date will be refunded.”
It only costs $53 when you sign up for standby testing, which is nominally more than a regular registration. The ACT will refund you if you can’t get in to take the test–meaning you must show up and be denied admission in order to receive the refund. Don’t rely on this: there is no guarantee when you sign up to test standby that you’ll be able to take the test that day.
You can add a fifth and sixth college to your list of colleges when you register for a fee of $13.00 each. These are score reports that you request before you’ve taken the test. The only way these are refundable is if you submit a written form or you do not take the ACT on that date.
A copy of the test you took and scores from your ACT costs $20. You can’t get a copy of the ACT on very single test date; rather, they are only released in December, April, and June. It’s a worthwhile way to spend $20, though, to get an idea of how you actually performed on the test versus your own perception of your efforts on test day.
Once you’ve already registered for the ACT, you can “re-register” for another test date over the phone. Re-registration over the phone costs $15 and the ACT stresses that it’s deeply inconvenient for people calling. Any balance of fees on your account would also need to be paid before you were permitted to re-register for additional test dates over the phone. If you do telephone re-registration, you’ll still need to print your ticket from the web.
Fee waivers are available when the registration fee for the ACT may be too high for some students. You don’t get a fee waiver directly through the ACT, however. You get a fee waiver through your high school guidance counselor for ACTs offered on national test dates.
Here are the requirements per the ACT for the fee waiver as of 2019:
The form isn’t publicized, so you’ll need to inquire at your high school.
Students aren’t eligible for unlimited fee waivers for the ACT; you’re limited to two. Once you register with the waiver you have to use it. If you register using one of your two available fee waivers and don’t take the test, you forfeit that waiver. If you try to change your test date or test center after submitting the waiver, you’ll be responsible for the same $30 fees that it costs any other ACT student to take the ACT.
Students who qualify for the ACT fee waiver are also be eligible to send 20 score reports without paying any of the $13 fees.
The ACT organization offers two free test dates, but some states also offer vouchers to help defray the cost of repeated ACT testing. These, too, are distributed through schools and are available through your high school guidance counselor if your state participates.
The same parameters go for state vouchers: you can’t use them to pay for change fees and other adjustments after the fact, so be sure your registration is correct when you use them.
Special Testing on the ACT does not cost more. This includes extra time accommodations in all their forms and other special accommodations that students qualify for. If you qualify or think you may, talk about this with your guidance counselor.