The ACT at a Glance

Like the SAT, the ACT is a nationally administered, standardized paper-and-pencil test that helps colleges evaluate candidates. Colleges now accept your ACT or SAT scores interchangeable. This means that you have the opportunity to decide on which test you'll perform better. And in many cases, students prepare for and take both exams. Is the ACT or SAT better for you?

Generally, you'll take the ACT for the first time in the spring of your junior year. This allows you to reserve the summer months for college applications or enough time to re-take the test during the fall of your senior year if you're not satisfied with your score.

The Anatomy of the ACT

The ACT lasts 2 hours and 55 minutes (excluding the optional Writing Test) or 3 hours and 25 minutes with the Writing Test. The order of test sections and the total number of questions covered in each test section never changes:

Section Length Question Types
English 45 Minutes 40 Usage/Mechanics Questions
35 Rhetorical Skills Questions
Mathematics 60 Minutes 14 Arithmetic Questions
10 Elementary Algebra Questions
9 Intermediate Algebra Questions
9 Coordinate Geometry Questions
14 Plane Geometry Questions
4 Trigonometry Questions
Reading 35 Minutes 10 Social Studies Questions
10 Natural Sciences Questions
10 Prose Fiction Questions
10 Humanities Questions
Science 35 Minutes 15 Data Representation Questions
18 Research Summary Questions
7 Conflicting Viewpoint Questions
Writing Test 30 Minutes You write in response to a question about your position on an issue

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