Tips for ACT Test Day: Last Minute ACT Strategies

act tips for test day icon

When ACT test day finally arrives, you want to approach the day with as much strategy and focus as you’ve put into your study process. By reviewing these strategies and last-minute tips for ACT test day, you’ll set yourself up for a smooth and successful testing experience.

After all, it’s finally your time to shine and show how much your hard work has paid off; not to mention, once it’s over, you may be done with the ACT forever! 🙌

1 Week Before the Test

Use the week before the ACT to focus. Focus on your test-taking strategy, confirm the types of questions you feel confident in, and make a plan for questions that trip you up. Since you know you will eventually see those questions that you have struggled with, if you make a plan you will not be overwhelmed!

When it comes to studying for the ACT, it’s all about confidence, and you’ve studied enough and effectively that you have every right to be confident.

If you’d like an outline of what to study this week, take a look at our guide for what to study the week of the ACT.

1.5 Hours Before the Test

Most ACT tests begin at 8:00 AM sharp. If you are late, you may not be admitted entry to the test, so do some research before test day about how long it will take you to get to the testing center and what the traffic situation will be like. Once you’ve figured out how long your commute will be, you might want to wake up with enough extra time before you leave to get ready and eat breakfast without feeling rushed. You don’t want to go into the test frazzled and hungry! 

Run through your test day checklist and make sure you have everything you need before you leave the house: your photo ID, printed ticket, Number 2 pencils, calculator (and extra batteries), and a healthy snack. Mints make many people feel more alert, so consider packing your favorite mints or mint gum.

act test day checklist

15 Minutes Before the Test

Arrive at your testing center 15 minutes before the time of your test to allow enough time to get checked in and settled. 

When you get to the testing room, take a deep breath. Sit square in your chair and clear your mind. Go over your test strategy one more time in your head (more about that here). Remind yourself of what is your very best. You know what to do. You have practiced. The test is not changing! 

Make sure your pencils are sharpened and your calculator is ready to go. Remember, you can only use your calculator on the Math section.

During the Test Break

Willing look a little silly if it will reboot your brain? Jumping up and down is a great way to initiate a vestibular response. Your brain will think you are in a NEW situation that requires reNEWed focus. So, head to the bathroom during your break and start jumping! You’ll wake up your brain and be refreshed for the rest of the test.

In addition to all the other reasons you should wash your hands when in the bathroom, washing your hands is another way to perk yourself up! Also, don’t forget to eat your snack and/or refresh with a mint!

After the Test

You’ll be released from the test around 12:35 PM if you take the ACT without writing, and 1:35 PM if you take the ACT with writing. Once you’re done, take the afternoon to celebrate! Whether this is with a nap, video games, or your favorite coffee, take a well-deserved break from studying to celebrate that you are DONE with the ACT for now! 

More Resources:

Reading this post and still searching for ACT study materials? The Olive Book’s ACT course has you covered! The course will teach you what you need to know for the Math, English, Reading and Science sections through practice tests, hundreds of practice questions, and animated explanation videos. Enroll and start studying right away at!

Further Reading:
How to Interpret Your ACT Score Report
How is the ACT Scored?
What to Study the Week of the ACT
ACT Test Day Checklist

3 thoughts on “Tips for ACT Test Day: Last Minute ACT Strategies”

  1. Thanks for mentioning finding the questions that are hard and find out how to figure them out. My son is currently a junior and is planning on taking the ACT in the summer. Since we want him to take it seriously and get a good score, I’ll be sure to mention some of these tips to him as well as helping him find a good test prep.

  2. Daneele Mavis

    My brain literally shuts down the day I take the test! I wish I could be as consistent and organized as described here.

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