What To Bring to the ACT


Knowing what to bring to the ACT (and what to leave at home) is vital to a successful test. The night before your exam, gather all your essentials and triple-check to make sure nothing’s missing. In the morning, eat a good breakfast, grab your backpack, and you’re on your way.   


These are the three items that you absolutely must bring with you to the ACT. If you’re missing any of these at check-in time, you may be disqualified from taking the test.

1. A paper copy of your ACT admission ticket. (Photos on your phone won’t be accepted). If you don’t have one, log in to your ACT account to print your ticket. It should show your full legal name exactly as it appears on your photo ID.

2. Your photo ID. The name on your ID must match the name on your admission ticket. Any of these will work fine:

  • Current official school ID
  • Driver’s license
  • Passport

Pretty much all other forms of ID are unacceptable, including these:

  • Birth certificate
  • Credit card
  • Employee ID
  • Learner’s permit
  • Personal recognition by a teacher or staff member

3. A handful of sharpened Number 2 pencils with good erasers. (Bring at least four, just in case). The whole ACT–including the essay–must be completed in Number 2 pencil.

Essentials You’ll Want To Have With You

These items aren’t required, but they’ll make your testing experience easier and less stressful.

  • A Watch: You can’t count on being able to see a wall clock from your seat, so you’ll need a watch to help you pace yourself. An old-fashioned analog wristwatch is a great choice. (Pro tip: reset it to 12:00 at the start of each section to make it easy to see how much time you have left). Be sure not to bring a watch that makes any kind of sound: the consequences of that can be dire. (See below under “What Not To Bring”).
  • A Permitted Calculator: You’re allowed to use a calculator on the Math section, but make sure it’s a type that’s permitted by ACT. Check your calculator the day before the test to make sure it’s working well.
  • Extra batteries for your calculator
  • A hand-held pencil sharpener
  • Snacks and water: You won’t be allowed to snack in the test room, but it’s wise to have munchies to eat outside during the break. Staying energized and hydrated helps keep your mind sharp.
  • A Sweatshirt or Jacket: You never know what the temperature in the test room is going to be like. Dressing in layers is a great way to make sure you stay comfortable and able to concentrate.  

What Not To Bring

To be safe, it’s best to avoid bringing anything other than the items listed above. However, these are some items that you definitely shouldn’t bring along:

First and foremost, don’t bring any electronic device other than your calculator. If you’re caught using one during the test (including break times), you may get kicked out and have your scores canceled. Leave your phone in the car.

Anything that goes “beep.” If you bring a watch, make sure it’s silent. If your alarm goes off even once during the test, you may be dismissed and have your scores canceled.

Writing implements other than Number 2 pencils. Pens, highlighters, liquid paper–you won’t be allowed to use any of them. No matter how much you love your mechanical pencil, leave it at home.

Dictionaries, scratch paper, notes, cheat sheets, etc. The only paper you’re allowed is your test booklet.

Tobacco in any form. It’s not okay even during breaks.

Sources Used:

1. https://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/test-day.html
2. http://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/ACT-calculator-policy.pdf