If I take the ACT on December 12, 2015, will I get my results back before January 2016?
The answer to this question depends on whether or not you're taking the ACT with Writing. If you're taking the ACT without Writing, your multiple choice scores should be available by Tuesday, December 22nd, 2015, which is before January (and gives you enough time to rush score reports to colleges with January 1st application deadlines).
If you take the ACT Plus Writing, however, you may not get your scores before January 2016. While in the past the ACT has managed to release most Writing scores about 2 weeks after ACT multiple choice scores, something quite different happened this fall (most likely because of the new ACT essay prompt). Many students did not get their Writing scores until 8 weeks had passed; in addition, students who had taken the ACT Plus Writing could not send official score reports (with just their ACT multiple choice results) to colleges until the ACT Writing had been scored.
So if you're applying to colleges with application deadlines of January 1st, you may not be able to use your December ACT with Writing score (or it may get sent after the application deadline).
Sources: PrepScholar article on ACT score release dates and articles such as this one about the delay in ACT Plus Writing scoring. For a more detailed look into the issues with the new ACT Writing test, read this article on our blog.