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About the ACT


What is the ACT?

The American College Test, or ACT, 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.

English75 questions45 minutes
Punctuation10 questions
Basic Grammar and Usage12 questions
Sentence Structure18 questions
Strategy12 questions
Organization11 questions
Style12 questions
Math60 questions60 minutes
Pre-Algebra14 questions
Elementary Algebra10 questions
Intermediate Algebra9 questions
Coordinate Geometry9 questions
Plane Geometry14 questions
Trigonometry4 questions
Reading40 questions35 minutes
Prose Fiction10 questions
Humanities10 questions
Social Studies10 questions
Natural Science10 questions
Science Reasoning40 questions35 minutes
Data Representation15 questions
Research Summaries18 questions
Conflicting Viewpoints7 questions

It is important to remember that the questions in every subject test vary widely in difficulty. Unlike the SAT, they are not 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 cannot cancel their ACT scores. However, it is 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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