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Frequently asked questions
How long is the ACT?
The test runs 2 hours and 55 minutes without the essay, or 3 hours and 35 minutes with the optional essay offered as a 5th Test. The breakdown of the test is as follows: English 45 minutes, Math 60 minutes, Reading 35 minutes, Science 35 minutes. If you take the optional essay, you’ll stay an extra 40 minutes. Some test administrations also include an experimental test with additional questions.
How is the ACT scored?
A perfect score on the ACT is a 36. The minimum score is a 1. Each Test—English, Math, Reading, and Science—also receives a score between 1 and 36. The total score is calculated by averaging the 4 test scores to reach a composite score. In addition to these scores, students will receive a STEM score, an ELA score (if they take the essay), and other scores to indicate mastery.
How can I study for the ACT?
The ACT rewards well-prepared, confident students. It’s extremely important to memorize important math formulas, as these are not provided. You’ll also benefit from strong reading comprehension and science interpretation skills. A prep course can help you study the right material and provide the tools to prep at your level, so you learn what you need, not what you don’t.
Should I take the SAT or ACT?
While both tests are accepted at all colleges and universities, some students perform better on one test than the other. Before you commit to either one, take an SAT vs ACT Practice Test. While you might see science-based reading on either test, the ACT has an explicit Science Test. The ACT also gives fewer minutes per question, so it’s better for students who can move quickly through a test.
About the ACT
The ACT is an admissions test—offered by ACT, Inc.— that has been around since 1959. All colleges and universities that require an admissions test as part of the application will accept the ACT. The exam consists of 4 sections in a set order: English, Math, Reading, and Science. It’s offered 7 times per year: February, April, June, July, September, October, and December.