Everything You Need To Know About The ACT

Much like the SAT, the ACT is a standardized test used by colleges in their admissions process. The ACT, which stands for American College Testing, is distributed several times during the school year and tests students on their abilities in English, math, reading, and science.

The exam is about four hours long and upon completion, a student will receive a score about three weeks after the exam that has a max score of 36, which will be the average of the four sections. As a way for colleges to predict literacy and writing skills needed for college academic success, the test is a popular way for colleges to directly compare students. Here are some quick facts about the exam:

Total Time:     175 minutes (no writing); 215 minutes (plus writing)

Pacing: Fast, but the questions progressively become harder through each section. Time per question is 49 seconds.

Cost: ACT (no writing): $36.50; ACT (plus writing): $52.50

Scoring: 36 Points Total (average of all four subsections)

Scoring Method: no additional points taken off for incorrectly bubbled-in answers

Average US Score: (English-20.5, Math-21.1, Reading-21.3; Science-20.9; 21.1 Total Composite)


Time:   45 minutes (one section)

Score: 1-36

# of Questions: 75 (40 Usage/Mechanics Questions, 35 Rhetorical Skills Questions)

Concepts: Measures standard written English and rhetorical skills


Time:   60 minutes (one section)

Score: 1-36

# of Questions: 60 (14 Arithmetic Questions, 10 Elementary Algebra Questions, 9 Intermediate Algebra Questions, 9 Coordinate Geometry Questions,14 Plane Geometry Questions, 4 Trigonometry Questions)

Concepts: Measures mathematical skills students have typically acquired in courses taken up to the beginning of grade 12


Time:   35 minutes (one section)

Score: 1-36

# of Questions: 40 (10 Social Studies Questions, 10 Natural Sciences Questions. 10 Prose Fiction Questions, 10 Humanities Questions)

Concepts: Measures reading comprehension


Time:   35 minutes (one section)

Score:  1-36

# of Questions: 40 (15 Data Representation Questions, 18 Research Summary Questions, 7 Conflicting Viewpoint Questions)

Concepts: Measures the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required in the natural sciences

WRITING (required)

Time:   30 minutes (one prompt)

Score:  2-12

Concepts: Measures writing skills emphasized in high school English classes and in entry-level college composition courses, while also successfully communicating a viewpoint and effectively supporting a position

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