ACT Rules and Tips: What You Should Know

Understand ACT rules and tips and make your college journey bountiful. Taking the ACT can be stressful for many reasons, but one of the reasons is all of the rules surrounding the test. The proctors of the ACT are usually very strict about all of the rules and will seriously make you leave if you do not follow them. This means that you studied and paid money for nothing because you will now not get a score.

It is not worth it to have to wait longer and pay money again just because you didn’t prepare yourself by researching the rules and listening to them again at the beginning of the test because the proctors read them before every test. It is very important to come prepared with ACT Rules and Tips below.

ACT Rules and Tips: No Food

Make sure that you get up early and eat breakfast that day because you only get a few breaks and you don’t want to have any problems with any of the rules during the test. First of all eating, a good breakfast is always a good idea when it comes to test-taking and it helps you focus.

You don’t want your stomach to be growling and distracting you or anyone else. But most importantly you don’t want to have any issues with any of the rules. One of the main rules is that there is absolutely no food during the test.

There are some breaks where you are able to eat a snack really quick but that is only when you are out of the room and you only have a very short amount of time. You can’t even have food out on the same table as your test so just make sure that you are aware of that and don’t try to go grabbing any sort of food during the test.

Don’t even try to have food out on the desk when you get there just to be safe. You would rather be safe than sorry when it comes to these sorts of situations.

ACT Rules and Tips: No Technology

Another big rule that they really like to focus on is that you can absolutely have no technology out. Before entering the room, you want to completely turn your phone and any other sort of device you have on you OFF.

If your phone or any other device goes off during the test, they will immediately dismiss you. It does not matter if it actually rings, buzzes, or even if you are not touching your phone at all. If your phone starts buzzing inside your bookbag and they figure out it is coming from your stuff, they will immediately dismiss you. This is not a joke I have witnessed his happen to people and so have many people that I know.

This also includes any sort of Apple watches or fit bit. You must have these off of your wrist and turn off or you are at risk of getting dismissed.

You absolutely cannot have these devices on during the test. If the proctor catches you, you will be in trouble. This makes sense because you could possibly be receiving messages or notifications on your phone that could help with answers to the test.

This shouldn’t be any sort of problem for you as long as you are prepared and have all the devices off of your body and turned off. If you want a watch to keep track of time, you must wear a normal watch that has no special functions.

ACT Rules and Tips: No Talking

This may seem like a very obvious one, but you would be surprised how many people get caught and in trouble during the actual ACT for talking. No matter what happens don’t talk or whisper at all. Even if you drop something or bump someone, do not say sorry because this can count as talking and they will seriously dismiss you.

As soon as you enter the room you should be prepared to completely stop talking. Don’t look around and do any sort of thing that could come across as signaling either because they have had problems with that in the past and could dismiss you. If they think you are looking around at other people’s tests that is an obvious reason for them to assume that you are cheating, and they will take your test.

If you start doing many things that appear like you are signaling someone else in the room, it will seem like you are trying to get answers this way. So basically don’t speak once you enter the room, don’t cheat, don’t look around at other tests or other people. Simply just keep to yourself and work hard on your own test and on getting your score honestly.

ACT Rules and Tips: Specific Pencils

Specifically, on the ACT, you are absolutely not allowed to use mechanical pencils or pens because your test will not be scored correctly. I am not exactly sure why this is, but it is explicitly stated in the rules several times. When they put the tests through the scantrons it is probably easier and works better if all the pencils being used are the same. So basically just come prepared with several sharpened number two pencils.

There is usually a sharpener in the room in case of an emergency, but your best bet is to come with them already sharpened. Getting up to sharpen your pencil is one thing that you are usually allowed to do with no question during the test. If they don’t mention anything about it at the beginning of the test, I would still raise your hand during the test to ask just so that you can have the best outcome. Erasers are allowed, so feel free to bring some to the test.

The erasers can especially be of use if you are taking the writing portion of the test. Just make sure that you come prepared with extra pencils because not every proctor will have extra pencils for students to use. My proctors always did, but just to be safe make sure you have extras that are also sharpened as well.

Filling the Bubbles

Your proctor will go over this several times, but it is so important to make sure that you fill in the bubbles all the way. You want to make sure that when you fill them in it is dark and completely filling the bubble. The reason that you want to do this is that when they put the test in the scantrons if the bubbles aren’t completely filled in, it won’t register that you even answered that question is that way.

Basically not filling in the bubbles completely can actually affect the way that the test is graded and hurt you in the long run. It is a small and easy task so just make sure that you take the time to do this so that you can have the best possible outcome of your test.

Leaving the Exam

Try your best to use the restroom and get drinks and such before the test begins because the ACT is very specific about restroom breaks and leaving the room during the test. They will let you leave for the restroom if you absolutely have to, however, they usually will confiscate your phone.

Basically, do the best that you can to take care of anything before the test starts. Plus, you want to use all of the time that you have on the test. Going to the restroom or leaving during the test takes away from the time you have to actually focus on the test.

Read more on preparing for the ACT Test here. If you would like more online training to take the ACT exam we recommend Kaplan.

No Books

They do not allow you to get out a book or anything to work on if you finish early. Administrators don’t want anyone to have access to study guides, answers, or information that was tested on the ACT. This means that you have a perfect opportunity to go over your text and check your answers.

Don’t just sit and stare at the wall until the timer is up. Take this time to make sure the answer bubbles are filled in correctly and all the questions are fully answered.

Sometimes if students have no idea how to answer a question, they will skip over it and then go back to those questions if they have time left. That is something else you can do if you know you usually finish early.


The rules of the ACT are very simple and clearly stated. Make sure you know what you need to have prepared and that you are fully ready to take the test. Get up early and at breakfast and make sure you use the restroom before the exam starts and during the breaks.

Be prepared and listen to the rules, one should have absolutely no issues.

One last tip is to make sure you remember your calculator because if you don’t you will have to take the test without one. They do not have extra calculators and they don’t let you use a phone or anything else in place of one. Also, make sure that you leave your calculator under your desk until they tell you to get it out.

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