Are you taking the ACT tomorrow, next month, or even next year? In this post, we cover the essential items you need to bring to the ACT to guarantee a smooth test day. Also, for your convenience, we’ve compiled a handy Amazon list. Here’s the ultimate checklist of what to bring to the ACT:


An important note is that the ACT does not allow the same calculators that the SAT does! 

Prohibited calculators:

  • All TI-89 models
  • All TI-92 models
  • TI-Nspire CAS edition

Allowed calculators:

You are also not allowed to have any documents on your calculator– only certain permitted types of programs. For the full list of allowed and prohibited calculators as well as more information, please check out the official ACT website.


Good old-fashioned and trusty wooden pencils are a must to bring! No mechanical pencils are allowed. Make sure to bring several wooden pencils as back-ups in case your pencil breaks during the exam. My personal tip is to pre-sharpen the wooden pencils to varying degrees. For example, I like to use a very sharp pencil for the essay portion, a medium sharp one for the math section (so I can work out math problems yet still bubble quickly), and a dull rounded pencil for the English, reading, and science sections for swift and smooth bubbling.


The dinky pink erasers attached to the top of wooden pencils often do more harm than good– so make sure to invest in a soft, high quality eraser that will allow you to erase easily and seamlessly!


Bring a small pencil sharpener in case your pencils break during the exam. Sometimes, the proctors will not allow you to keep sharpeners on your desk. In that case, you can stick the sharpener under your desk and use it to sharpen your pencils during breaks. Being prepared never hurts!


Pack a stop watch (with a silencing option) to time yourself throughout the exam, as you never know where the clock will be located in your testing room. Having a stop watch will help you to effectively pace yourself, and pacing is a crucial strategy to achieving a high score on the ACT! (Note: The proctor will be announcing whenever you have five minutes left, but that won’t necessarily help you to pace yourself throughout the entire section.)


Make sure your admission ticket is a printed black-and-white or colored copy– It cannot be on a device screen (iPhone, iPad, etc.)!


I personally recommend a government-issued ID, such as a passport. You can also bring your school ID as long as it’s printed on plastic and your picture is on it. If your ID is on paper or cheaply laminated, it might not be acceptable.


Last but definitely not least, bring food! The ACT website tells students not to bring food to the testing center– However, I advise against this. As long as you bring food and stuff it at the bottom of your bag and close it completely, you should be fine. I stress bringing food because nutritious, protein-packed, and brain-boosting food plays an integral part in helping you perform your best. Some suggestions are nuts, fresh fruit, or even a full sandwich. Also bring a water bottle to keep you hydrated throughout the exam. Avoid sugary drinks and especially caffeine, unless you’re used to daily intakes– it can make you jittery and also stimulate an urge to urinate during the exam, which can be highly distracting and uncomfortable.

Eat your snacks at every break possible. Take advantage of snacking during the first break — which is the longest — even if you are not hungry. By the time you are actually hungry, the break might be too short for you to properly eat. What I often see is my students suffering from extreme fatigue by the time they reach the science section, which results in their scoring poorly. To avoid this, fuel yourself with good food during breaks to sustain you with energy from start to finish!


Do not bring a cell phone by any means, as you will not be allowed to use it. Also, do not bring headphones or earplugs. If for some reason you need to bring your cell phone and earplugs, make sure to turn it off completely and conceal both items at the bottom of your bag. If your testing center is checking in cell phones at the front door, check yours in! You don’t want to get kicked out of the ACT just because you have a cell phone on you.

Make sure to pack these aforementioned items the night (or even the week) before the exam to avoid scrambling on the morning of test day. Get a good night’s sleep, and arise refreshed and ready to tackle the ACT! Good luck!!!

Want more helpful information about the ACT? Check out these related posts!