July ACT Test Centers Fully Booked? Try this.

If your teen might want to take the July ACT®, they should sign up now. Almost all of the test centers in New Jersey are fully booked.

The reason July test centers fill up faster than any other test date in the year is two-fold: 1) Fewer schools are open during the summer, so there is limited testing capacity, and 2) New York state does not allow the ACT to be administered in July, so all New Yorkers have to go to the surrounding states to take the tests, which causes even higher demand for those limited seats.

What to do if the test centers are fully booked

The vast majority of students (99% — everyone except those applying to a military academy) should not take the ACT essay. There is no reason to do so. When the SAT discontinued its essay in January of 2021, essentially all colleges stopped caring about an ACT essay score as well.

And yet, there are still separate rooms for students taking the ACT without the essay and for students taking the ACT with the essay.

The rooms for students taking the ACT without the essay are nearly full throughout New Jersey.

Register for the ACT without the essay

But that leaves students with a helpful workaround: register for the ACT with the essay, and then just don’t take the essay. There are many more seats still available when registering to take the essay.

Register for the ACT with the essay

How to register for but not take the ACT essay

I just re-confirmed this process with the ACT today:

  • Register for the ACT with the essay.
  • On test day, when you enter your assigned classroom, inform the proctor that you no longer wish to take the ACT with the essay and ask that you be allowed to leave the room after the experimental section (the 20-minute fifth section at the end of the test that doesn’t count) before the essay starts.
  • In every instance, my students have been allowed to leave before the essay begins. But, technically it is up to the proctor’s discretion whether they will let the student leave or not.
  • If the proctor does not allow you to leave before the essay starts, then do not break the seal on the essay booklet. As long as you don’t break the seal (and just take a nap, do silent meditation, or contemplate gratitude for existence and blessings, etc for the duration of the 40-minute essay), then you will not receive an essay score, and your ACT test will be scored just the same as if you had never registered for the essay.
  • One last option (not confirmed by the ACT as an official practice but which sometimes works) is to ask when you arrive at the school check-in desk if you can be switched to a non-essay room. Then you, and everyone, will be done with the test after the fifth experimental section.

So, worst case scenario: you will experience the long suffering of 40-minutes of potential boredom. But, for most students, that worst case scenario is still much better than having to get up earlier to drive 40 minutes further to take the test because all the test centers near them are fully booked for taking the ACT without the essay.

Paper or Computer Test?

Very important: do NOT register to take the ACT via computer. The full explanation would take a separate post, but suffice to say that the ACT is designed as a paper test and does not translate well to a digital format (instead of having the graphs and tables on the page in front of them, students have to scroll up and down on the screen looking for answers, etc — in short, students are likely to get lower scores when taking the digital format).

paper or computer 3 July ACT Summit Prep

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us anytime or contact the ACT directly.


SAT® and ACT® are registered trademarks belonging, respectively, to Collegeboard and ACT, Inc. Neither Collegeboard nor ACT, Inc. is involved with or affiliated with Summit Prep, nor does the SAT or ACT, Inc. endorse or sponsor any of the products or services offered by Summit Prep.

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We were lucky enough to be referred to David at Summit Prep! My son enjoyed working with David as he felt that he really helped him prepare for the ACT. He explained concepts covered on the test as well as the test itself. My son felt confident taking the test and did so well that he only had to take it once!
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