How To Sign Up For the ACT: a Step-by-Step Guide

Wondering how to register for the ACT? The process is pretty straightforward, but it may take you up to 45 minutes to complete. Pick a time when you’re not rushed. You’ll want to have a copy of your high school transcript at hand.

How to Register for the ACT

1. Log into your ACT account here. If you don’t yet have an account, you’ll be invited to create one. Be sure to use exactly the same name that’s on your photo ID. (The staff at your testing center will check to make sure they match. If they don’t, you won’t be allowed to take the test).

2. Click “Register to Test.”

3. Now you’re at the beginning of the first section: Your Personal Profile. This top page asks for essential information that ACT will use to identify you and track your tests. To avoid headaches down the line, be sure that everything you enter here is correct and typo-free.

4. The rest of this section is less important. Some of it is data that ACT is collecting in order to generate statistics on how various groups of students perform on the test. The rest is a survey about your interests that will be passed along to colleges that want to send you promotional materials. For students who haven’t yet decided where to apply, those mailings can sometimes be helpful. If you’re not interested in receiving them, you can leave that part blank. (Nothing you enter here becomes part of your application, and it won’t affect the admissions process in any way).

5. The next section is called Your Interest Inventory. ACT uses your responses here to try to recommend college majors and possible career fields for you. This part is also optional.

6. The third section is Your Test Selection. This is where you actually sign up. First, you’ll be asked to agree to ACT’s Terms and Conditions. (There’s nothing sneaky in there: you’re basically just agreeing not to cheat). Next, you choose your test date and specify whether or not you’ll be writing the essay. You may also be offered some ACT test-prep materials.

7. The next page gives you all the nitty-gritty details about the photo you’ll need to upload later. (The staff at your testing center will be using it to identify you on test day). If you currently have a headshot that fulfills ACT’s requirements, you can upload it at the end of the registration process. If not, you’ll need to take one and upload it by (at the latest) eight days before your test date.

8. Next, you’ll need to list the high school courses you’ve taken and the grades you received. Yes, you’ll be sending official transcripts to all your target schools, but it’s still important to fill this part out accurately.

9. After that comes a page called “Your College Choices.” Here you can specify up to four schools where you want your ACT scores to be sent. Reports that you request here will be sent for free. If you’d rather wait and see your scores before deciding whether to send them, that’s fine: just leave this part blank. If you opt to send them later, you’ll need to pay a small fee. (Right now it’s $13 per test per school).

10. The next page is “Your Plans For the Future.” Again, this is information that the ACT gives to colleges that might want to contact you. It’s optional.

11. The following page is where you choose your test center. You can search by zip code to see all the available centers near you. Keep in mind that there may be one that’s more convenient, quieter, or more comfortable than your high school.

12. Upload your photo now if you have it. If you need to wait, don’t forget to get it done by the deadline. (Otherwise, your application will be canceled).

13. Submit your payment.

Wait, Can I Change Something?

Once you’re registered, you can still make certain kinds of changes to your application by logging back into your ACT account and paying an additional fee:

  • Changing your test date
  • Changing your test center
  • Adding or removing the writing test
  • Updating your personal information
  • Adding to or changing your college choices

For more on this, go here and scroll down to “How can I make changes to my registration?”

A Few More Tips

  • Registering for the ACT costs $88 ($63 without the essay).
  • Sign up early! Go here for a complete list of 2022-23 test dates. Each one has a deadline (the last day when you can register without a hefty late fee) and a serious deadline (the last day when you can register by paying the late fee). Remember: good testing centers fill up fast. Avoid financial and emotional stress: plan ahead.
  • The ACT registration FAQ is here. If you need to contact them with a question, use their help form.
  • For help getting the scores you want, utilize prep courses like KaplanACT OnlineBarron’s, and The Princeton Review.



Test Prep Advisor Staff

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The Test Prep Advisor staff is made up some of the world's foremost experts on standardized tests. Some of them have developed their own copyrighted techniques for preparation and others have published books that revolutionized the way people study. They all have years of experience as tutors and share a passion for helping people achieve (or exceed) their target scores.