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About the ACT

What is the ACT?

The American College Test, or ACT (http://www.act.org/aap/), is administered by the American College Testing Company five times a year. A three-hour, multiple choice exam, the ACT is substantially different from the SAT. It is designed to measure academic achievement in four major curriculum areas: English, mathematics, reading, and natural sciences. The ACT is not an intelligence test. It measures the knowledge, understanding, and skills that students have acquired up to the time of the test. Because the ACT is predictable, students can easily prepare through lots of practice.


How is the test designed?

The ACT test is made up of four subject tests, each designed to measure academic achievement in a major area: English, mathematics, reading, and science. The test consists of a total 215 scored questions. Actual testing time is 2 hours and 55 minutes; however, with breaks, the test takes about 3 hours to complete.

English 75 questions 45 minutes
Punctuation 10 questions  
Basic Grammar and Usage 12 questions  
Sentence Structure 18 questions  
Strategy 12 questions  
Organization 11 questions  
Style 12 questions  
Math 60 questions 60 minutes
Pre-Algebra 14 questions  
Elementary Algebra 10 questions  
Intermediate Algebra 9 questions  
Coordinate Geometry 9 questions  
Plane Geometry 14 questions  
Trigonometry 4 questions  
Reading 40 questions 35 minutes
Prose Fiction 10 questions  
Humanities 10 questions  
Social Studies 10 questions  
Natural Science 10 questions  
Science Reasoning 40 questions 35 minutes
Data Representation 15 questions  
Research Summaries 18 questions  
Conflicting Viewpoints 7 questions  

It is important to remember that the questions in every subject test may vary widely in difficulty. Unlike the SAT, they may not be arranged in any particular order. If a question is too difficult to answer, skip it, but don't skip the rest of the section! The easier questions may be in the middle or at the end of the section.

How is the ACT scored?

Each of the four sections are scored on a scale of 1 to 36. The four scores are averaged to provide a composite score, which is the score most often requested by colleges and universities. The national average composite score is 21. Unlike the SAT, students may not cancel their ACT scores. However, it may be possible to retake the ACT as many times as is needed to improve the score.

Want to know more? Read Preparing for the ACT!

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