For many high school students, taking standardized tests like the ACT is simply a rite of passage on the road to college. But what if you’ve already graduated high school – should you still consider taking the ACT?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through all the factors to consider when deciding whether taking the ACT after high school is right for you.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Taking the ACT after high school can be a smart choice if you’re looking to raise your score for college admissions or scholarships. It also allows you to study and focus on the test without the pressures of regular high school coursework.

Reasons to Take the ACT After High School

Improve Your Score

If you didn’t achieve your desired ACT score during high school, taking the exam again after graduation can be a smart move. The ACT is a standardized test that assesses your readiness for college-level work.

By retaking the test, you have the opportunity to improve your score and increase your chances of getting accepted into the college or university of your choice. Plus, with some additional preparation and practice, you may be able to boost your score significantly.

Don’t let one less-than-ideal score discourage you; taking the ACT after high school can be a great way to demonstrate your academic growth and dedication to your education.

Qualify for Scholarships

Many colleges and universities offer merit-based scholarships to students who excel on their ACT exams. By taking the ACT after high school, you give yourself another chance to qualify for these financial awards.

Scholarships can greatly reduce the financial burden of college tuition and expenses, making higher education more accessible and affordable. Additionally, some scholarship programs have specific requirements, such as achieving a certain ACT score.

By retaking the exam, you may be able to meet these requirements and become eligible for various scholarship opportunities.

Apply for College After a Gap Year

If you’re considering taking a gap year after high school, taking the ACT during that time can be beneficial. A gap year allows you to take a break from formal education and explore other interests or gain real-world experience.

However, when you decide to apply for college after your gap year, having an updated ACT score can strengthen your application. It shows colleges that you are still committed to your education and have taken steps to improve your academic abilities.

So, even if you didn’t take the ACT during high school, it’s never too late to demonstrate your readiness for college.

Change Intended College Major

Another reason to consider taking the ACT after high school is if you have decided to change your intended college major. Different majors may have varying admission requirements, including minimum ACT scores.

If your initial ACT score was not competitive for your desired major, retaking the exam can give you the opportunity to showcase your abilities in the areas relevant to your new field of study. This can help you gain admission into programs that align better with your current academic goals, increasing your chances of success in college and beyond.

When Should You Retake the ACT?

Retaking the ACT can be a strategic decision for students who want to improve their scores and increase their chances of getting into their dream colleges. However, it’s important to consider the timing of your retake to ensure that you have enough time to prepare effectively and make the most out of the opportunity.

Here are some key moments to consider when deciding when to retake the ACT:

During Summer Before College

One popular option for retaking the ACT is during the summer before starting college. This can be a great time to focus on test preparation without the added stress of high school commitments. With more free time on your hands, you can dedicate yourself to studying and mastering the content that you struggled with in your previous attempt.

Additionally, retaking the ACT during the summer can give you the chance to submit your improved scores to colleges before their application deadlines.

Fall of Your Freshman Year

If you didn’t achieve your desired score during high school and decide to take a gap year or attend a community college before transferring to a four-year institution, the fall of your freshman year can be a good time to retake the ACT.

By this time, you may have had the opportunity to further develop your academic skills and gain more knowledge in the subjects tested on the ACT. Plus, you’ll have the advantage of being more familiar with the test format and structure, which can help you perform better.

After Switching College Majors

Another situation where retaking the ACT may be beneficial is if you decide to switch your college major. Certain fields of study may have higher ACT score requirements or may prioritize specific subject areas.

If your original ACT score doesn’t align with the expectations of your new major, retaking the test can demonstrate your commitment and readiness to excel in your chosen field.

Ultimately, the decision of when to retake the ACT depends on your individual circumstances and goals. It’s important to carefully evaluate your situation and consider factors such as timing, preparation, and the requirements of the colleges or programs you are interested in.

Remember, retaking the ACT is a valuable opportunity to improve your scores and enhance your college applications, so make sure to approach it strategically and give yourself the best chance for success.

How to Improve Your ACT Score

Use Your Previous Score Report

If you have previously taken the ACT, it’s important to use your previous score report as a starting point for improvement. Take a close look at your strengths and weaknesses in each section of the test. Identify the areas where you scored well and continue to build on them.

Similarly, pinpoint the areas where you struggled and make them a priority for improvement. By analyzing your previous score report, you can create a targeted plan to boost your overall ACT score.

Focus on Weak Areas

One of the most effective ways to improve your ACT score is to focus on your weak areas. Whether it’s math, reading, science, or writing, spend extra time practicing and studying the concepts that you find challenging. Don’t shy away from seeking help if you need it.

There are plenty of online resources, tutors, and study guides available to assist you in mastering difficult concepts. Remember that practice makes perfect, so dedicate ample time to practicing the areas where you struggle the most.

Take Practice Tests

Practice tests are an invaluable tool when it comes to preparing for the ACT. They allow you to become familiar with the format and types of questions you’ll encounter on the actual test. Set aside regular time to take full-length practice tests under timed conditions.

This will not only help you get accustomed to the time constraints of the exam but also help you identify areas where you need improvement. After completing each practice test, thoroughly review your answers and understand why you got certain questions wrong.

This will enable you to learn from your mistakes and avoid repeating them on test day.

Try Test Prep Resources

There are numerous test prep resources available to help you improve your ACT score. Consider enrolling in an ACT prep course or using online resources such as Khan Academy or These resources provide comprehensive study materials, practice questions, and tips for success on the ACT.

Additionally, many offer personalized study plans and strategies tailored to your specific needs. By utilizing these resources, you can gain a deeper understanding of the test content and learn effective test-taking strategies, ultimately boosting your ACT score.

Registering for the ACT After High School

Even if you have already graduated from high school, taking the ACT can still be a valuable option for you. Whether you are looking to improve your scores for college admissions or want to showcase your academic abilities to potential employers, registering for the ACT is a straightforward process that can open up new opportunities for you.

Sign Up for Test Dates

When registering for the ACT after high school, the first step is to sign up for a test date. The ACT offers multiple test dates throughout the year, giving you the flexibility to choose a date that works best for you.

It is recommended to check the official ACT website ( for the latest information on test dates and registration deadlines. Remember to plan ahead and allow yourself ample time to prepare for the exam.

Understand Registration Policies

Before registering for the ACT, it is important to familiarize yourself with the registration policies. These policies may vary depending on your location and individual circumstances. Take the time to carefully read through the registration requirements, such as identification documents, fees, and any additional materials needed.

By understanding the registration policies beforehand, you can ensure a smooth registration process.

Send Scores to Colleges

Once you have taken the ACT, it is crucial to send your scores to the colleges or universities you are interested in. This allows admissions officers to evaluate your academic abilities and consider you for admission.

When registering for the ACT, you have the option to select up to four colleges or universities to receive your scores for free. Additionally, you can send scores to additional institutions for a fee. Be sure to check the official ACT website for specific instructions on how to send your scores to colleges.

Remember, taking the ACT after high school can be a great way to showcase your academic abilities and open up new opportunities. By understanding the registration process and following the necessary steps, you can successfully register for the ACT and make the most of this valuable testing opportunity.


Taking the ACT again after high school graduation can be a wise move if you’re looking to boost your score for college applications or scholarships. With focused practice and prep, it’s possible to significantly improve your ACT performance.

Just be sure to register in time for your desired test dates and send updated scores to colleges. With some diligent preparation, retaking the ACT after high school can help open more educational and financial aid opportunities.

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