ACT

American College Test

The ACT is a standardized test designed to measure basic math, science, english, and reading skills. Submission of either ACT or SAT scores is required by most colleges and universities. The test is an important factor in the admissions process, and you should do your best to show schools that you know your stuff. It is composed of five sections each of which will be graded on a scale of 1-36. Your final score will be an average of these results. Below you will find a typical test layout.

  • The Math

    The math section will be composed of 60 questions which you will have 60 minutes to answer. Problems in this section test your algebra, geometry, and trigonometry skills. The questions are all multiple choice and you may use your calculator to solve them.
  • The Science

    You will have 35 minutes to finish the 40 questions that make up this portion of the test. This section is meant to test your ability to read graphs, interpret results, and compare opposing viewpoints. Many students find this portion of the test to be the most difficult. However, you do not have to be a science whiz to do well on it. Practicing graph interpretations and passage reading under time constraints will help you significantly.
  • The English

    This section has the most questions, but they are generally less time consuming than those on other sections. You will have 45 minutes to complete the 75 questions you are asked. Many of them will deal with grammatical errors. Common ones ask about the style and mechanics of provided sentences.
  • The Reading

    The reading section is composed of 40 questions which you must complete in 35 minutes. You will be presented with excerpts from books and magazines and asked to answer questions based on what you have read. Passage topics vary greatly, but history, science, and liberal arts ones are common.
  • The Writing Sample

    This portion of the test is optional. You will have 30 minutes to write an essay that answers the proposed question. Although the writing sample is not graded, schools will receive a copy of it. Many do take the writing sample into consideration during the admission process. Some schools have said that they use this section as the "tiebreaker”.

If you do not do well on the test your first time around, don’t despair. You may take the test as often as you would like (keep in mind that the test is only offered 6 times per year). Schools will only receive the results you choose to send. Use this to your advantage, and plan ahead. Taking the test during your junior year will give you extra time to prepare for round two. When you practice, keep in mind that you should answer all questions. Incorrect answers will not count against you, and it is in your best interest to answer everything. To get you started, we have prepared some sample ACT problems.

Sample Questions

To print a PDF version of the ACT overview and practice test questions, click here.

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Last Reviewed: June 2020