The ACT is administered at local high schools by ACT, Inc. about six times during the school year. Like the SAT, the vast majority of colleges accept the ACT during the admissions process. For guidance on how to decide between the SAT and ACT, give us a call or check out our SAT vs. ACT page.
In addition to an optional essay, the ACT has four sections:
English 75 Questions in 45 Minutes
Mathematics 60 Questions in 60 Minutes
Reading 40 Questions in 35 Minutes
Science 40 Questions in 35 Minutes
The ACT English Test primarily tests students on their ability to use correct grammar and mechanics and rhetorical skills. Specific content areas include comma and punctuation usage, subjects and verbs, pronouns, word choice and rhetorical clarity and relevancy.
This section is divided up into five passages, and each passage reads like a small, independent piece of writing. Underlined sections are spread throughout, and students are asked to choose the best version of the underlined portion. There are also questions that require students to decide what should or should not be included in the passage.
The ACT Math Test is designed to test students on mathematical ability they have developed over the last few years of their school careers. Math topics include algebra, geometry, arithmetic and a little trigonometry. The questions are mostly rather straightforward, but some students may not have seen certain topics in school for a couple years.
The section begins with the easiest problems, and question difficulty increases as students move through the test. Since there are 60 questions to complete in 60 minutes, students have an average of one minute per question. As with the entire ACT test, there is no guessing penalty.
The ACT Reading Test requires students to use their reading comprehension and reasoning skills to answer questions about a series of four passages. Every student will see one prose fiction passage, one social science passage, one humanities passage and one natural science passage.
For many students, this section is one of the most time-constrained sections on the entire test. Students must read all four passages and answer 40 total corresponding questions in only 35 minutes. The questions vary from relatively easy questions about information explicitly given in the passage to difficult questions requiring logical deduction.
Contrary to popular belief, the ACT Science Test doesn't actually require much outside knowledge about science. Instead, students read a series of scientific passages and experiments and answer questions that require them to find or interpret information they've just read.
This section requires a variety of skills, including reading comprehension, graph and chart interpretation, scientific reasoning, experiment analysis and utilization of the scientific method. Some students also find this section to be a bit time-constrained because they must answer 40 questions and read seven articles and experiments in only 35 minutes.
Below are the official test dates for the ACT for the 2016-2017 school year. To view registration deadlines and late registration information, click on each date.
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