What Is the ACT Test?

The ACT test is a college preparatory exam designed to measure students' readiness for college-level work. Colleges and universities use scores from the test as one factor in admission decisions. This article will tell you more about the ACT.

The ACT Test

The ACT is a standardized exam typically taken by high school juniors and seniors to measure their educational development and college-readiness. The test questions are created by reviewing high school curricula, textbooks and teacher surveys.

Important Facts About the ACT Test

Timing Students take the ACT in the spring of their junior year or fall of senior year
Test Preparation Tools Online programs, guide books, sample test questions
Frequency/Cost The ACT is offered six times per year, and costs between $34 - $49.50
Scores A perfect score is a 36, while the national average score is about 21

Sections of the ACT Test

The ACT is divided into four mandatory, multiple-choice sections in English, math, reading and science reasoning. The writing skills section, which requires test-takers to write an essay, is optional.

The English Section

The English section is composed of 75 questions and lasts for 45 minutes. According to the Princeton Review, the exam covers both writing mechanics and rhetorical skills.

The Math Section

There are 60 questions on the math section of the test, and test-takers have 60 minutes to complete the section. The questions cover pre-algebra, algebra, geometry and trigonometry. Test-takers are allowed to use calculators during the test.

The Reading Section

This section gives students 35 minutes to answer 40 questions. The section consists of four readings: one prose piece, one social science piece, one humanities piece and one piece from the natural sciences. The corresponding multiple-choice questions measure reading comprehension skills.

The Science Reasoning Section

This section presents test-takers with seven science-related passages in three areas, including data representation, conflicting viewpoints and research summary. The section lasts for 35 minutes and consists of 40 questions.

The Writing Skills Section

This optional test section gives test-takers 30 minutes to write a short essay in response to a question about a topic relevant to high school students. The written section is graded on a scale from 1-6 by two different reviewers. A third reviewer is called in if their scores differ by more than one point.

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