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How many times can you take the ACT?

Because a good score on the ACT will open many doors for your future, it is a good idea to take it more than once.

Even if you take practice tests under similar ACT testing conditions at home, the first time you take the ACT, you will likely feel a bit nervous as you acclimate to the test.

Taking the test more than once will allow you to learn from previous mistakes and give you a better sense of how you need to prepare in order to reach your target score. 

Those who score within a top percentile on the ACT usually take the test multiple times during their junior and senior years. The ACT allows students to take the test up to 12 times, providing plenty of opportunities for students to study and improve their ACT scores.

However, just because students can take the ACT twelve times does not mean that they need to do so. On average, most students only take the test 2-3 times to achieve their testing goals.

If you’re trying to determine how many times you should take the ACT, here are some factors you should consider:

Your target score

Before you take the ACT for the first time, you should have a target score in mind. You can determine your target score by looking at the percentile scores for the colleges and universities you want to apply to your senior year and considering scholarships that have minimum ACT score requirements.

After you take the ACT, you will be able to see how close you are to reaching your target score. This will help you determine whether or not you should retake the test.

Remember, the goal of retaking the ACT is to reach your target score. If you have already met your target score, you won’t need to retake the test again. However, if you are a few points away from your goal, and you have the time to study, you should take the test again so that you can meet your target.

Make sure that you are being realistic about meeting your target score. If your goal is to get a 32 on the ACT, and you earn between 14-16 each time you retake the test, you will probably need to readjust your expectations instead of taking the ACT a dozen times. However, if your goal is to get a 32, and you’re only three or four points away from this goal, retaking the test a couple of times is a good idea.

If you have a clear target score in mind, it will help you decide whether or not it would be best for you to retake the ACT.

Testing costs

Taking the ACT is not free. Because there are fees associated with each administration, you could end up paying an arm and a leg to take the ACT multiple times.

The ACT without the writing section costs $60, and the ACT with writing costs $85.

Sending additional score reports to colleges will also cost you $16 per report.

If you feel the need to take the ACT more than two or three times in an attempt to reach your target score, you should be aware of the cost of this test and some alternative options to take instead. 

For instance, instead of taking the ACT six times without showing much improvement, you could spend this money on an ACT prep course with a score improvement guarantee or to work with a private tutor who will help you significantly increase your score.

College applications

Ultimately, your ACT scores will be sent to the colleges and universities you apply to during your senior year of high school. These scores can be a significant factor in the admissions process, and they can help you step up your application and boost your chances of getting into your top schools.

You will want to consider your college applications when you are weighing whether or not to retake the ACT for a few reasons:

  • Taking the ACT too many times can be a bad sign. If you take the ACT seven or more times, college admissions officers will wonder whether or not you have the skills and experience necessary to study well. They may see several attempts as a sign that you struggle with your study habits or that you aren’t taking the test seriously.
  • Your percentile score matters. If you are not within the 50th percentile or above at a particular school, your chances of getting accepted into the school are slim. Look at the percentile scores for applicants who were accepted into the colleges on your list and make sure that your score is above the 50th percentile (and ideally at least in the 75th percentile range).
  • Some schools superscore the ACT. If your dream schools superscore the ACT, then you don’t have to worry about taking the test additional times to make sure you are reaching your target score on each section on each test. If you already met your target score on early test sessions, those high scores will be considered by the colleges on your list that superscore the ACT.


There is no point in retaking the ACT if you aren’t going to study and learn from your previous mistakes in between test administrations.

Consider your schedule and the amount of time you will have to study while completing your schoolwork, working at your after-school job, participating in sports or other extracurricular activities, and volunteering in your community. If you know you won’t have enough spare time to dedicate at least 4-6 hours per week studying for your next test, it may not be worth retaking.

Likewise, you do not want to spend so much time studying that you neglect the other aspects of your application that are equally important. If you are so busy preparing to retake the ACT in an effort to increase your score by one or two points that you aren’t writing strong essays, participating in extracurricular activities, or staying on top of your classwork to maintain a strong GPA, it isn’t worth it.

Create a set study plan and make sure that you have adequate time to study for your retake without sacrificing the other boxes you need to check to have an impressive college application.

As someone who earned a perfect score on the ACT, I know what it takes to earn a high score in far less than 12 attempts. Sign up for an ACT prep course or for private tutoring through Prep Expert to master the strategies that I used to earn a perfect score and reach your target score without taking the test too many times.

Learn more about how Prep Expert can help you prepare for the ACT when you visit our website.

Prep Expert

Written by Prep Expert

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