1. When are you applying to college? Are you applying early decision?
I've talked to tons of college admissions reps over the years, and most of them offer the same advice when it comes to when to apply: Apply as early as possible. That means applying in September or October, before admissions reps get swamped with applications. And if they decide to defer your decision until you improve your grades or ACT score, that gives you more time to correct course.
If you plan to apply to college early decision (before November 1) but you're not satisfied with your ACT score, then you should take the ACT in June, because if you wait until the fall, it's unlikely you'll get your (hopefully improved) scores back in time for your college applications. That being said, you don't always need to apply early. If you are confident you will be admitted to your college of choice but simply want to retake the ACT for personal reasons or scholarship consideration, you can afford to wait.
2. Will you study for the ACT over the summer? How will you prepare for the test?
Be real with yourself. I hear a lot of students say they'll wait to retake the test because they'll "have more time to study." But if you wait until the fall, are you really going to spend time over the summer studying? If you wait until the fall but don't do anything to prepare yourself, chances are you'll forget a lot of what you learned over the school year and end up scoring the same or worse.
This isn't true for everyone, of course. If you can stay focused, have a clear game plan, and commit yourself to preparing, having more time to study can work to your advantage - provided that you actually take advantage of the time.
3. What do you have going on in the next few months?
If the end of your junior year threatens to be really stressful and already looks super busy, it may be better to wait until you're less stressed and have more time on your plate to retake the ACT. That being said, if you've already been prepping for the test, it can help to keep the momentum going by continuing to study.
4. How do you want to spend your senior year?
Ideally, the fall of your senior year should have one focus and one focus alone: applying to college. If that thought alone is intimidating, then you may not want to be stressing about retaking the ACT while you're busy getting your applications together.
The Bottom Line:
So what's the best course of action? All things considered, I think that for most people, it's better to retake the ACT in June so that (1) you have your ideal score ready by the fall when you're applying to college, (2) you have the option to retest in the fall if you're still not happy with your score, and (3) the material is still fresh in your mind.
The good news is that either route you take, you have options. (For a full list of ACT test dates, click here.) And whatever you decide, we've got your back. If you're self-motivated and work well alone, check out the Free Test Prep section of our site for free online practice tests and resources. And EnACT has ACT prep classes designed to prepare you for either the June or September ACT. Click here to read more about our amazing test prep classes.