ACT Checklist Of Things To Have On A Test Day

The big day has finally arrived and you’re getting ready to go take the ACT, one of the standardized exams that play a significant role in college admissions. You’ve studied for months and you’re ready to go to the testing center to show what you know for the next couple of hours. But what do you bring along with you? Definitely a pencil. Maybe your lucky socks?

Here’s what you should and shouldn’t bring to the ACT so that you don’t jeopardize your chances of successfully making it through the test. 

What to Bring to the ACT: Must-Have Things

There are a few things that you absolutely need to bring to the test. These are items that will either ensure your admission into the testing center, or guarantee your ability to complete the test with the most available resources.

  1. Admission Ticket

A printed admissions ticket will be your key into the testing site. Test administrators will need to know that you have successfully registered for the exam, and that you are in the right place at the right time. The admissions ticket is usually sent immediately after online registration, and can be printed through your MyACT Account. If you forget your admissions ticket on the day of the exam, your scores may be delayed- something that you definitely don’t want to happen.

  1. Acceptable Photo ID

Bringing a photo ID will help administrators identify you and make sure that you’re the individual that is meant to be taking the ACT on testing day. An acceptable form of photo ID is mandatory to be admitted to the test center. Without a photo ID that meets ACT requirements, you will not be allowed to take the exam. 

Acceptable forms of photo identification include:

  • Original, valid IDs issued by a government agency or a school in a hard, plastic card format (paper or electronic formats are not acceptable)
  • Passports
  • An ACT Student Identification Form completed by a school official or a public notary 

Unacceptable forms of identification that will get you turned away from the testing center include (but are not limited to):

  • Birth Certificates 
  • Diplomas 
  • Employer IDs
  • Credit Cards 
  • Temporary Driver’s Licenses that do not have photo 
  • Any Photocopies

In order to be fully prepared the day of, make sure your photo ID is not expired and ready to go a few days before the test.

  1. 2-3 Number 2 Pencils

Sharpened number 2 pencils are crucial for correctly filling out the multiple choice scantron that will be distributed on the day of the test. This answer sheet will be where you put all of your answers. Bubbling in your answers clearly and with the correct writing utensil will be important in ensuring an accurate and timely score release. 

Make sure your pencils have good erasers on them in case you don’t have a separate eraser on hand. Mechanical pencils or any type of ink pen are not allowed to be used for the exam.

Bring 2-3 pencils just to be safe. It is always good to be prepared and have an extra in hand in case your pencil dulls or breaks midway through the exam. There isn’t a limit on how many pencils you can take into the testing center, so frankly, take as many as you need. 

  1. ACT Approved Calculator

A calculator will be important to complete the Math with calculator section of the ACT (as the name implies). Just be sure that the calculator you are bringing is an ACT approved calculator. Most four-function, scientific, and graphing calculators are allowed. Any calculator with built in-or downloaded computer algebra system functionality is not allowed for use. 

There is a complete list of prohibited calculators on the ACT website. 

Definitely also make sure that your calculator is charged, or the batteries are good to go before the test begins.  

The ACT math with calculator section can be done completely without a calculator (so it is not required or necessary) but using a calculator will certainly maximize your chances of getting the highest score possible.

  1. Mask

As a COVID precaution, the ACT now requires all examinees to bring and wear masks or other cloth face coverings at testing facilities (regardless of other potential mask mandates in your area). You will not be allowed to enter a testing site without a mask, so be sure to mask up!

Other Things to Bring to the ACT

While the ACT does not explicitly tell you to bring these items, here are a couple more things that will make test day run more smoothly, and make you more comfortable while taking the exam.

  1. Watch

The ACT allows you to bring a watch to pace yourself during the exam. While exam coordinators will be in charge of keeping track of time and notifying test takers during the exam, and there should be a clock available in the room, it might be helpful to have your own independent method of timekeeping. 

However, if the thought of constantly checking the time brings you too much anxiety (it certainly does for me), feel free to leave your watch at home- it’s not a necessary part of the exam.

During the test, your watch must be removed and placed on your desk face up. Your watch cannot make any noise, and cannot have any alarms. Your watch also cannot be any type of smart watch (i.e. apple watch, fit bit) or have any recording or communication capabilities. 

If your alarm sounds while testing, you will be dismissed and your test will not be scored.

  1. Sharpener And An Eraser

A pencil sharpener and a separate eraser will be helpful in clearly filling out the scantron and completely erasing any answers that you may want to change. This way, you won’t have to worry about any pencils breaking or being unable to erase during the test.

  1. Water And A Snack

The ACT is a pretty long test, so you’re bound to get thirsty or hungry at some point during the exam. You’re not allowed to eat or drink while taking the exam but breaks in between sections provide ample time for a quick snack to energize you for the rest of the test.

  1. Extra Batteries

Extra calculator batteries are always helpful in case your calculator dies midway through the math section. While you probably won’t need these if you’ve made sure your calculator is charged and ready to go before the exam, it’s always good to have them for peace of mind!

  1. Jacket Or Sweater

Unfortunately, you can’t control the thermostat at the testing site, and some of these facilities can be set ridiculously cold. To make sure you’re not shivering the entire time and actually focusing on the test, bring an extra layer of clothing with you just in case.

Prohibited Items

Unlike the items above, these are things that you absolutely cannot have on test day. If an administrator sees any of these items in use, you will be at risk for getting dismissed and having your scores cancelled.

  1. Electronic Devices

Other than your ACT approved calculator (which can only be used during the math with calculator section), you cannot handle any other electronic devices during the exam. The use of devices is prohibited from the time you are admitted into the testing room up until you are dismissed at the end of the test. This includes all breaks given during the test. 

Prohibited electronic devices include cell phones, smart watches, fitness bands, or any other device with communication or recording abilities, or internet access.

Any electronic device you bring into the test room should be turned off and placed out of sight once the test begins.

  1. Any Other Stationery 

The only writing utensil allowed on the ACT is the number 2 pencil. Any other stationery, such as highlighters, pens, colored pencils, correction or fluid tape, will not be allowed during the exam. Using them on any part of the exam can put your test scores at risk.

  1. Books Or Other Reading Materials

Not that you’ll have time to read, but books, textbooks, dictionaries, or any other reading materials are not allowed during the test. 

  1. Tobacco In Any Form

Tobacco in any form is not allowed during the ACT. This includes e-cigarettes and vapes. Leave it at home for a couple hours — you’ll survive. 

Can I Bring My Phone on Test Day?

You’ll probably want to bring your phone on test day to text your friends and family before and after for moral support and to let them know how you think you did. And you definitely can! 

Just make sure that during the exam, your phone (like all other electronic devices) is turned off and placed out of sight. Again, this includes break times. If your phone activates, rings, buzzes, or makes any other noises during the exam, or you use it at all, you will be dismissed, your test will not be scored, and your phone might get taken away. 

Be Prepared on Test Day

If you’re getting ready to take the ACT and want some help while preparing, SoFlo’s Online ACT Tutoring is a great resource to get you started. SoFlo offers one-on-one tutoring with experienced, high-scoring, college students who are familiar with the ins and outs of the exam.

SoFlo students make their own schedules and are offered flexible tutoring plans while also seeing noticeable improvements in their scores. Schedule a free consultation now!

About the Author

Shirley Xie

Originally from Princeton, New Jersey, Shirley Xie attends Johns Hopkins University and is majoring in Public Health and Behavioral Biology. She scored a 1580 on the SAT. In her free time, she enjoys playing volleyball and baking with friends.


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