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The ACT and SAT exams can determine the path you take into college. For a lot of students, this can cause a lot of stress and pressure to do well on the ACT and SAT exams. But with proper test prep and a well defined study plan, you can alleviate the stress and go into your ACT or SAT exam with confidence. 

Pick Your ACT Test Date Strategically

Peterson’s recommends taking the ACT in the early fall of your junior year. This will help reduce the amount of workload you have during the school year. Taking it sooner than later will allow you to focus more on your regular course work and will allow you to focus your studies on AP exams taken in the spring. Be sure, however, to pick a test date that aligns with your schedule. Look at your activities and coursework and choose the test date which will allow you the most time to study.

At the end of this article, you’ll find ACT dates for the 2023 and 2024 school year.

When Should I Start Studying for the ACT? 

If you plan to take the ACT in the fall of your junior year, we recommend that you begin studying for the ACT at the end of your sophomore year or the summer between your sophomore and junior year. This will give you plenty of time to study the material on the exam and take ACT practice tests.

Since every student is different, here are a couple factors you should consider when planning your ACT prep schedule::

Determine Your Strengths and Weaknesses
One of the best things you can do before creating an ACT study plan is to determine your strengths and weaknesses. You can do this by taking ACT practice tests. ACT practice tests will help you understand how the ACT test is structured and what types of questions will be asked on the exam. Discovering how well you perform on each section will help you identify  areas  to which you need more dedicated study. 

Peterson’s digital test prep will give you access to 11 full-length ACT practices tests that mimic the real ACT. You’ll also have unlimited access to interactive and instructional material that you can include within your ACT study plan.

Consider Your Goals for the Future
Like we mentioned earlier, the ACT can help determine your college path.. Scoring well on the ACT exam with the aim to get into a good in-state university or qualify for scholarship opportunities will look different than scoring well to get into an Ivy League school. If you are planning to attend a highly selective school, like an Ivy League institution, we recommend taking ACT practice tests and creating a robust ACT study plan early in your sophomore year, and aim for gradual, steady-paced studying.

Determine Your Desired Point Improvement
If you earned a 28 on your ACT practice test, but wanted to score a 32, you’ll need to allocate a few more weeks of ACT prep to your study schedule. This is why taking a few ACT practice tests is beneficial to determining how far you are from your ACT score goal.

ACT Tips and Strategies for Success

  1. Take Practice Tests
    One of the best ways to study is by taking practice tests. Identify your ACT strengths and weaknesses by taking ACT practice tests. Once you’ve seen your results and know your weaknesses, you can work towards improving in those specific areas.
  2. Create a Study Schedule and be Consistent
    Cramming for the ACT won’t help you get your highest ACT score. Determine the ACT score you want to achieve and give yourself enough time to increase your score. Gradual, consistent studying will boost long-term memory and decrease burnout.
  3. If You Get Stuck, Move On
    If you get stuck on a question, move on to the next but don’t forget to revisit the question later. An unanswered question will automatically lose you points.
  4. Utilize the Method of Process of Elimination
    If you’re unsure of the correct answer on a question, eliminate any of the answer choices you are positive are incorrect. This helps reduce the possibility of getting the answer wrong.
  5. Memorize Formulas
    The ACT exam does not give you or allow formula cheat sheets so it’s important that you memorize the formulas you’ll need to use during the exam. ACT practice tests will give you a great idea of the types of questions asked so you’ll be able to know which types of formulas to remember.
  6. Practice Self-Care and Manage Your Stress
    Avoid burnout and fatigue the days leading up to your ACT test. Stick with your consistent study schedule and practice and do the things that alleviate your stress. This could mean something different for everyone. But no matter what you do to practice self-care, make sure to sleep well, eat well, and remember that you’ve properly dedicated time to preparing for the ACT.

2023-2024 ACT Test Dates

Test Date Regular Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline

Late Fee Applies

September 9, 2023 August 4 August 18
October 28, 2023 September 22 October 6
December 9, 2023 November 3 November 17
February 10, 2024 January 5 January 19
April 13, 2024 March 8 March 22
June 8, 2024 May 3 May 17
July 13, 2024* June 7 June 21

If you want to go into your ACT test with confidence, take advantage of Peterson’s ACT test prep that includes full-length ACT practice test, explanations to every answer, and interactive and instructional videos and study materials.