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When Should I Take the ACT for the First Time?

We receive questions about the ACT throughout the year for a reason - it is a very important test! To put it frankly, where you can attend college and how much your college education will cost depend directly on how well you score on the ACT. To kick off this blog series, we want to answer a very common ACT question: When should I take the ACT for the first time?


Depending on your college goals, we recommend taking the ACT for the first time at the end of your sophomore year or at the beginning of your junior year. By the time you reach the end of your sophomore year, you should have taken most of the English and Math classes needed to feel comfortable with most of the content on the ACT. Please note that you should not stress over how highly you score on your first ACT. Do your best, but keep in mind that you are taking the test for the first time so you will have a starting score from which you can improve.


Once you have taken the ACT for the first time, you need to create a plan for improving your score. There are dozens of books, websites, and tutoring services that help you prepare for the ACT. Which option is best? The answer is different for each student. Many students choose to purchase an ACT prep book so they can study on their own. Other students find attending ACT prep classes or ACT tutoring are more effective at improving their ACT scores.

You may have heard a recommendation that you take the ACT every time you can, but we do not agree with this recommendation completely. You can take the ACT no more than 12 times, so you need to make each ACT count. If you are willing to prepare before each ACT, then you should take it every time you can. If you have not prepared for an ACT, you should not expect your score to improve. Set reasonable score improvement goals and try to improve your score by at least 1-2 points per test. With additional ACT prep and practice, higher score improvements are possible. Remember - practice, prep, and make every ACT count!