What to Bring to the ACT Exam? (9 Things You'll Need)

Jordan Coleman
Published by Jordan Coleman
Last Updated On: January 27, 2022

With college just around the corner, it's about that time to gather your materials and head off to take the SAT/ACT test. But be careful. Showing up without some essential items will give you a headache or, worse, be barred from that day's ACT test.

Check below to make sure that you know what to bring to ACT test day and follow the Official ACT Inc guidelines.

4 Important Things to Bring on Test Day

1. Printed Copy of ACT Admission Ticket

A woman holding out envelopes and letters

Your admission ticket is one of the most critical items you need to bring on ACT test day. This ticket lets the administrator know you have reserved one of the testing room seats that day.

We recommend printing the ticket at least two days before and putting it in a designated area that is easy to pick up on test day. This way, you aren't rushing around the night before getting everything in order.

If you have lost it, simply print another copy of your ticket. Not having the admission ticket could result in you not sitting in the testing room for the ACT test or having your test scores delayed.

2. Valid & Acceptable Photo ID

A man showing his id card and lace

You will need a valid photo ID to be admitted to the ACT test. You will be turned away if you don't have identification that meets testing requirements. The specific ACT requirements are:

  • An original, current official or school ID issued by either the government, social security, or high school
  • Must be a hard plastic card format. Any photo ID card in paper or electronic form will not be accepted.
  • First and last names need to match between your photo ID and the admission ticket.
  • You need an acceptable photo identification that is you, such as a driver's license or school ID. Save significant physical changes for after the test day.

If you need an official ID for some reason, the ACT has a form that will count when filled out by a school official or a notary public. The form is known as the ACT Student Identification Form.

You can get that for free at the ACT website. Bring that with you to the testing center on the ACT test day.

3. A Pencil and Eraser

A notebook, earsers, penicl and a paper clip on a table

Number 2 pencils are crucial for taking the ACT. Some test centers don't provide any writing utensil, which is why it is highly recommended you bring a number 2 pencil and eraser of your own. Number 2 pencils are yellow and have a little "2" written close to the eraser.

Go ahead and sharpen the pencil at home the night before the test and place it with your photo ID and admission ticket. You can bring a stand-alone eraser, which some students find more helpful. Mechanical pencils are not allowed, so leave those at home on test day.

4. Permitted Calculator and Batteries

ACT permitted calculator and test papers sitting on a table

You will want to bring a calculator when taking the ACT mathematics portion of the test. This is not a requirement but would be beneficial with completing the test on time. With math concepts ranging from addition to pre-calculus, you'll find a calculator handy. An approved calculator can be a 4-function, scientific, or graphing calculator.

Don't forget to pack an extra set of batteries in the off chance you lose life in the middle of the math portion. You will be surprised by how often this has happened. The extra set of batteries will give you the peace of mind to complete the test without any added worry.

Other Things You Need to Bring

While calculators, admission tickets, and IDs are important, they aren't the only thing you'll want on the ACT test day. Here are a couple more items to consider packing the night before.


Bring a watch to help with pacing. Make sure the watch doesn't have an alarm, and that includes all smartwatches or fitness bands. You'll be asked to place the watch on the desk, face up. Some proctors might ask you to show them that there is no alarm on the device.

If an alarm goes off during the test, you'll be removed, and the test won't be scored. The ACT test proctor does announce when there are only five minutes remaining in the section, which might be all you need for pacing.

Food and Water

You will be given a 10-15 minute break during ACT testing, so think about eating a healthy snack and drinking water during that time. Pack a snack that includes nuts, fruits, or a granola bar. These foods will keep you full and give you the energy to keep on working [1].

Eating is forbidden inside of the room, so make sure to eat a big breakfast. You don't want to get caught with a growling stomach and a distracted brain in the middle of the ACT reading portion.


The ACT test center temperatures are known to fluctuate, with some being warmer or cooler than others. By bringing a jacket, you'll be prepared and comfortable no matter what the room feels like. Remember, you'll be sitting for a few hours, and what might be comfortable for the first few minutes can become distracting later on. Even the simple act of shivering can cause you to lose focus.

Extra Pencils and a Pencil Sharpener

You'll find that filling in a ton of circles and writing an essay will cause your pencil to lose its sharp tip pretty quickly. You can switch pencils quickly without wasting any time during the ACT by bringing a few different pencils.

It's crucial to make legible and accurate marks on the answer sheet, so they can later be scored accurately. Even get a couple of stand-alone erasers to help with entirely erasing any imperfections created by mistake.

Extra Batteries

Bringing extra calculator batteries will bring you some comfort during the math portion of the ACT, which might be a daunting section for some test takers. While the probability of your calculator losing power in the middle of the math section is low, it can still happen. You'll want to use a calculator for the math portion. Help eliminate some testing stress and bring batteries.

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."


–  Benjamin Franklin

Things Not to Bring to the ACT Day

Smartphones on a table, and a woman holding a highlighter pen are some of the things not to bring to the ACT test

Don't get caught with a cell phone or any of these items, as you might lose your chance to get your ACT test scored or barred from the testing center.

Foreign Language or Other Dictionaries, Scratch Paper, Notes

No outside resources are allowed into the testing room due to cheating risks. The ACT testing sites are strict about this rule and will dismiss you from the test if you find any notes or other aids on you. While extra fun reading material (i.e., books) is not prohibited, it's not a good idea to bring that either.

Highlighters, Colored Pens, or Pencils

The scantrons used for the ACT only read Number 2 pencils, so using ink pens, mechanical pencils, or correction fluid tape will cause the grading machine to read your test as invalid. Pens, colored pencils, and highlighters won't be of any use to you.

Electronic Devices

Leave all cell phones, laptops, or smartwatches at home, in your car, or with a parent. Being caught with an electronic device while taking the ACT is a ground for dismissal from the test. Think ahead about what you want to do with your devices, like cell phones, before the ACT test.


Tobacco in all forms should be left at home on this day. That includes vapes.

Tips During ACT Test Day

A person writing on a notebook while using an ipad

Having all your supplies is the first step to getting a great score on test day. But here are a couple of tips to making sure that your ACT test day goes off without a hitch.

  • Take some deep breaths right as you get into the test room. A few depth breaths will calm your nervous system and get you feeling calmer in seconds. This is a free quick way to prep your body during tests for college admissions. [1]
  • Listen to the ACT instructions, and don't be afraid to ask questions. If you don't understand something, ask for it to be repeated. You want to be fully prepared to take the ACT.
  • Focus solely on your work. Remember that you have sat down and studied the free ACT prep material for days and weeks before even getting to this point.
  • Position your ACT test booklet and answer sheet near each other. Save yourself time and energy by simply placing the test sheet right below the question you are answering. Bonus, it helps keep you focused.
  • Take a guess! The ACT doesn't count points off for guessing, so don't leave an answer blank. You might be surprised at the free points you get.
  • Pace yourself during each section. If you find yourself stuck on one question, make a note and skip it. You can come back at the end.
  • Go back and double-check your work when you are finished. You might find a silly mistake or a missed question.
  • If you are a part of the ACT talent search identification, use this ACT test prep.

Final Thoughts - ACT Things to Bring

The day of your SAT/ACT can already be stressful without the last-minute rush to grab everything you need to bring. Save yourself from needless anxiety and prep your ACT bag at least two days in advance.

That bag might be a Ziploc or a pencil pouch. Place it by the door the night before the test, so you won't be in any rush in the morning. You've done all the test prep; now it is time to take the test.


  1. https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/articles/food_exam_performance


About the author

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment