How Much Does The ACT Cost? Exploring Costs & Fees

From movie tickets to groceries, prices seem to be on the rise everywhere –  and college admissions are no exception. With everything else families across the country have to worry about, the costs of taking standardized tests like the ACT can feel like an additional burden. 

In this guide, we will explore the various costs associated with the ACT, including both the base test fee and any additional fees you might encounter. We’ll also break down the costs of taking the ACT with or without the optional writing section, as well as resources to help relieve the financial burden of taking this exam. 

From the moment you register for the test to the final score report, we’ve got you covered. We’ll provide practical tips on how to navigate the payment process, including fee waivers, scholarship opportunities, and other ways to save on ACT-related expenses. We know that every dollar counts and our aim is to ensure that the cost of the ACT doesn’t become a barrier between you and your college dreams.

So, whether you’re a high school student gearing up for the ACT or a concerned parent eager to support your child, sit tight and get ready to explore the world of ACT fees. By the time you finish reading, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of the costs involved and feel more equipped to tackle the financial side of taking the ACT. 

Table of Contents / Quick Reference Guide

  1. An Overview of the ACT
  2. How Much Does the ACT Cost?
  3. Additional Costs For the ACT
  4. How To Pay For the ACT
  5. Registering For The ACT
  6. ACT Fee Waivers
  7. ACT Refund Policy
  8. How To Save Money When Taking the ACT
  9. How To Prepare For the ACT

An Overview of the ACT

Before we delve into the specifics of ACT fees, let’s begin with a quick overview of what the ACT is all about. The ACT, short for American College Testing, is a standardized test designed to measure a student’s readiness for college. It assesses knowledge and skills in areas such as English, Math, Reading, and Science, with an optional Writing section.

Why is the ACT important, you might wonder? Well, for many colleges and universities, your ACT score plays a crucial role in the admissions process. It helps admission officers evaluate your academic abilities and potential success in college. Plus, a strong ACT score can open doors to scholarships and other opportunities, making it a valuable part of your college application journey.

The ACT is broken down into multiple sections, each testing different skills. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect on test day:

  • English: This section focuses on grammar, usage, punctuation, and rhetoric skills. You’ll encounter passages and questions that assess your understanding of standard English conventions and your ability to express your ideas clearly.
  • Math: The Math section evaluates your knowledge of mathematical concepts taught in high school, such as algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Be prepared to solve problems, analyze data, and apply mathematical reasoning to various scenarios.
  • Reading: In the Reading section, you’ll face a series of passages and questions that assess your comprehension skills. Your ability to understand, analyze, and interpret written material will be put to the test, so make sure to hone your reading strategies!
  • Science: Don’t let the name fool you – the Science section doesn’t require you to be a budding Einstein! Instead, it evaluates your ability to interpret and analyze scientific data and passages. The focus is on critical thinking and reasoning skills, rather than memorizing formulas and facts.
  • Writing (Optional): Although the Writing section is optional, some colleges might require or recommend it. If you choose to complete the Writing section, you’ll be given a prompt and asked to craft an essay expressing your perspective on a given issue. It’s an opportunity to showcase your writing skills and demonstrate your ability to construct a well-organized argument.

Now that you have an overview of the ACT sections, it’s important to note that each section is scored individually, ranging from 1 to 36. These individual scores are then averaged to calculate your overall composite score, which is the number most colleges pay attention to.


Looking To Get The Highest Score On The ACT?


In the next section, we’ll dive into the specifics of ACT fees, including how much it costs to take the test and what additional costs you might encounter. 

How Much The ACT Costs With & Without Writing

If you’re planning on taking the ACT with the optional Writing section, then you’re looking at a cost of $93.00. This fee covers the cost of the actual exam, and includes six score reports: one for yourself, one for your highschool, and four additional reports to be sent to the colleges of your choice. 

On the other hand, if you’re planning on taking the ACT without writing, you’ll save about $25 dollars, as taking the ACT without writing only costs $68. This fee covers the cost of taking the exam, and offers the same amout of score reports as listed above.

If you’re on the fence about whether or not you should take the ACT with our without writing, keep in mind there is an additional test option change fee of $25 that allows you add or remove the writing test through the late deadline.

Additional Costs For The ACT

In addition to the costs listed in the previous section, there are a variety of other fees one might encounter when navigating the world of the ACT exam. These include fees for late registration, standby testing, additional score reports, and more. Below, we’ve provided a breakdown of each of these additional fees so you can be fully equipped to tackle the cost of the ACT in every capacity. 

ACT Test FeeCostDescription
Additional score report fee$18.50 eachApplicants can send their ACT® test scores to a fifth or sixth university for $18.50 each, with an additional $18.50 fee for any extra schools.
Test information release fee$32For a fee of $32, students can obtain a copy of their responses to the test questions.
Registration change fee$44Students wanting to change their exam date or test center location must pay a $44 ACT® test fee for either of these modifications.
Late registration fee$38A late registration charge of $38 is required for students registering after the specified deadline.
Standby testing fee$68After the late registration deadline, students can join a standby testing list for $68. If a spot becomes available, they can take the test. This fee is refundable if there is no space for testing.
Score reports to 5th and 6th college choices$18.50 eachStudents can request score reports to be sent to their fifth and sixth college choices for an additional fee of $18.50 each.
ACT Score VerificationVariesFor multiple-choice score verification and writing test score verification,, the cost is $58 each, while score verification for both of these combined is $116. 

Keep in mind that the above fees reflect the most current & up to date information available from the ACT themselves.  

Changes to the Cost of the ACT (2023)

Recently, the costs associated with the ACT have changed, and we’ve broken down those changes below:

ACT Test FeeCurrent Cost (2023)Previous Cost
Registration Fee (With Writing)$93$88
Registration Fee (Without Writing)$68$63
Additional score report fee$18.50 each$18
Registration change fee$44$42
Late registration fee$38$36
Standby testing fee$68$63

As you can see, the cost of the ACT hasn’t changed by much, but even the difference of a few dollars can add up when all is said and done, especially in these current economic times. 

How To Register & Pay For the ACT

Now that we understand how much the ACT costs and the various fees associated with the exam, it’s time to actually register for the test. There are two ways you can register for the ACT: online or by mail. Students who register online can follow these nine steps below:

  1. Create an account on ACT.org, providing personal information, such as full name, date of birth, email, country and phone number.
  1. From your ACT dashboard, click on ‘register for ACT’ and specify whether you will be taking the test in or outside the U.S., and if you’ll need accommodations for a documented disability. You also need to indicate if you’re taking the optional writing component.
  1. Choose a test center and date, using your zip code to find the closest testing centers. You can toggle between available dates and sites.
  1. Review your testing details, apply an ACT fee waiver or promotional code and then pay for the exam using a credit or debit card.
  1. You can opt to add-on practice materials, tutoring services, self-paced ACT prep courses or test information release(TIR) for an additional cost.
  1. Submit your additional personal information and photo ID, which will be used to verify your identity on test day.
  1. List up to four colleges or universities you want to send your scores to for free.
  1. Provide your parent or guardian’s contact information, so they can access your scores if needed.
  1. Review and accept the terms and conditions, confirm your registration and submit payment.

Acceptable forms of payment for the ACT include checks, credit cards such as Mastercard, Visa, Discover, and American Express, wire or ACH. The ACT is currently registered in all states throughout the US that administer state and/or local sales taxes. Additionally, its important to note that your purchases of ACT products and services may be subject to applicable sales tax as defined by your state and local tax laws.

If you are exempt from sales/use tax, you can complete the appropriate exemption documentation required by your state and submit it to ACT by email, fax, or mail at Attn Finance – Tax, PO Box 4072, Iowa City, IA 52243-4072, email to [email protected], or fax at 319-339-3099.

ACT Fee Waivers & How To Apply For Them

An ACT Fee Waiver is a program offered by ACT that aims to support students who may have difficulty paying for the ACT test. Through this program, eligible students can have their ACT test fees covered, allowing them to take the test at no cost. The fee waiver covers the registration fee for up to four ACT tests, including the optional writing section, for national testing.

In addition to covering test fees, students who register with a fee waiver also receive access to free learning resources. This includes The Official ACT Self-Paced Course Powered by Kaplan, which provides bite-sized on-demand lessons, access to ACT practice questions and answers, and the opportunity to take full-length practice tests. These resources offer students a structured yet flexible way to prepare for the ACT.

Moreover, students who qualify for an ACT fee waiver can request a Test Information Release (TIR) at no extra cost. The TIR allows students to receive their test questions and answers after the test, providing valuable insights for review and further improvement.

Another benefit of the fee waiver program is the ability to send additional ACT score reports to colleges and scholarship agencies for free. Students can request an unlimited number of score reports at no cost, helping them in their college search process.

For students seeking to apply to colleges, the ACT fee waiver program also offers the opportunity to request a waiver or deferral of college admission application fees. This can help alleviate the financial burden associated with college applications.

To be eligible for an ACT fee waiver, students must be currently enrolled in 11th or 12th grade and testing in the United States, US territories, or Puerto Rico. They must meet one or more indicators of economic need, such as participating in free or reduced-price lunch programs, being enrolled in economically disadvantaged programs, residing in foster homes or being homeless, receiving low-income public assistance, or having a total annual income that meets the USDA levels for free or reduced-price lunches.

To apply for a fee waiver, students should first check with their school counselor to determine eligibility. If eligible, students can receive up to four fee waivers to take the ACT test for free and gain access to the learning resources mentioned earlier. When registering for the ACT online or by mail, students simply need to use the ACT fee waiver code provided.

The ACT fee waiver program aims to ensure that financial constraints do not hinder students’ access to the ACT test and the opportunities it can bring for college admissions and scholarships.

Can I Get a Refund For My ACT Fees?

When it comes to ACT fees, it’s important to know that they are generally nonrefundable. Once you’ve paid for the ACT, including the basic registration fee and any additional fees for late registration or test date changes, refunds are typically not available. It’s a good idea to carefully weigh your options and review all the necessary details before registering for the ACT to avoid any potential loss of fees.

That being said, there might be some exceptions for optional services that offer refunds. For instance, you may be eligible for a refund if you’ve paid for certain extras like score reports for additional college codes, the Test Information Release, or the ACT writing test. If you’re looking to request a refund for these specific services, ACT provides instructions on how to do so. Usually, this involves sending your unused admission ticket with the word “REFUND” written on it to ACT Registration or reaching out to them by email.

For more detailed information about refunds and specific circumstances, we recommend referring to the official ACT website or contacting ACT directly. They’ll be able to provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding any potential refund options. Remember, they’re the experts in this area and will be able to assist you further.

How To Save Money On The ACT

Applying for college can be expensive, but there are a few savvy strategies you can use to minimize costs when it comes to the ACT. Here are some tips and tricks:

Fee Waivers

ACT offers fee waivers for eligible students who demonstrate financial need. These waivers can cover the cost of the basic registration fee, as well as additional fees for late registration or test date changes. Check with your school counselor or ACT directly to see if you qualify for a fee waiver.

Plan Ahead

Registering early for the ACT can help you save money. The registration fee tends to increase for late registrations and test date changes, so try to register well in advance.

Choose the Right Test Format

 ACT offers the option of taking the test with or without the writing section. If you’re not required to take the writing section for the colleges you’re considering, you can save money by opting out of it.

Practice Effectively

Preparing for the ACT can increase your chances of getting a higher score and potentially qualifying for scholarships. Utilize free or low-cost resources like online practice tests, study guides, and study groups to maximize your preparation without spending extra money on expensive prep courses.

Score Sending

ACT allows you to send your scores to four colleges for free when you register for the test. To save money, choose your college options wisely and only send scores to schools you are seriously considering.

By following these money-saving tips, you can keep some extra green in your pocket while still tackling the ACT with confidence

How To Prepare For The ACT

Now that you have an understanding of how much the ACT costs & what to expect when it comes to registering for the exam, the next thing to do is begin your ACT preparation.  Here are some steps you can take to prepare for the ACT:

  • Familiarize yourself with the test: One of the crucial factors that can help you prepare for the ACT is to know what to expect on test day. Review the official ACT website to understand the test format, sections, scoring, and timing.
  • Take practice tests: Once you’re familiar with the test structure, it’s time to practice. Take full-length, timed practice tests to get a sense of your strengths and weaknesses in each section. You can find free practice tests on the ACT website.
  • Identify your weak areas: Review your practice test results to identify areas where you need to improve. If you struggle with time management in the Science section, for instance, practice more on that section.
  • Focus on time management: The ACT is a timed test, so time management is essential. Practice working on questions under a time constraint to develop efficient strategies and pace yourself well.
  • Get quality study materials: The quality of the study guide you use matters a lot. Choose trusted and comprehensive resources, such as official ACT prep materials, review books, and online courses.
  • Take advantage of free resources: There are many free online ACT resources to supplement your preparation, such as video tutorials, practice questions, and flashcards.
  • Consider getting an ACT tutor: If you need additional support, working with a tutor can be an effective strategy to help you prepare better for the ACT. Fortunately, Inspirica Pros has a wealth of qualified and experienced ACT tutors who can help you improve weak areas and develop a personalized study plan.

Remember, preparing for the ACT requires dedication, practice, and commitment. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to focus on your weak areas. Utilize these tips to create a solid study plan and give it your best shot on test day!

Frequently Asked Questions About The Cost of the ACT

How Much Does The ACT Cost Vs. The SAT?

With the optional Writing Section, the ACT costs $93, where the SAT costs only $55 in comparison. Both tests have a change fee of $25, while the late registration fee for the SAT is $30, compared to the $38 late registration fee of the ACT.  

How many times can you take the ACT?

As many as you want—the ACT does not put a limit on the number of times a student can take the test. However, the number of times you test may be limited by time constraints and available test dates. The ACT is typically administered seven times a year in September, October, December, February, April, June, and July.

It’s important to note that while you have the option to take the ACT multiple times, the average number of test attempts for most students is between 2-3.. Many students retake the test to improve their scores, and colleges are generally neutral about multiple scores.

How many years is my ACT score good for?

ACT scores are valid for up to 10 years from the test date. This means that you can use your ACT scores for college admissions or other purposes for a period of 10 years after you take the test.

Related ACT Resources

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