The ACT, or the American College Test, is a standardized test administered to high schoolers in preparation for admission into American colleges and universities. Test scores are used to indicate what a student learned throughout high school and can help a student determine what higher education program is right for them. The ACT is a four section, multiple choice test, which comprises an english, math, reading, and science section, with an optional essay section at the end.
The English Test is the first section on the ACT. You will have 45 minutes to answer 75 questions. This test is made up of five essays or passages, with various words or phrases underlined. These passages will be a mixture of fiction and nonfiction, and will be written in various styles. Your job is to determine whether or not each underlined portion needs to be replaced with one of the answer choices. The right answer, or the “best” replacement, will be grammatically correct, make sense in the context of the passage, and will be as concise as possible. You may also have to answer questions regarding rhetoric, such as where a given sentence would best be placed in the passage.
The Math Test is the second section on the ACT. You have 60 minutes to answer 60 questions. This section is arranged by difficulty, with the easier questions at the beginning and the more difficult questions occurring at the end of the test. The ACT Math Test will expect you to know math concepts up until the end of Precalculus. You are allowed a calculator on this section, but every question is able to be answered without a calculator.
The Reading Test is the third section on the ACT. This test consists of four different sections, each of which will present either one long passage or two short passages. You will have 35 minutes to answer 40 multiple-choice questions. This will allow you 8 minutes and 45 seconds per section, which you will need to budget between reading the passage and answering the questions.
The Science Test is the fourth section on the ACT. You have 35 minutes to answer 40 multiple choice questions. While this section requires you to have a general understanding of science, you should be able to answer almost all of the questions through the interpretation of various passages, graphs, and charts, rather than having to draw from any particular scientific facts.
The Science Test consists of seven different groups of questions, each of which is based on a different passage or chart. Each group of questions contains 5 to 6 questions, which get increasingly harder in difficulty. These questions will require basic comprehension of passages and charts, as well as the ability to analyze and interpret these passages and charts and see general patterns in the data.
The ACT Writing Test consists of a 40 minute essay, and is the final section of the ACT. This test is optional, and whether or not a student chooses to sign up for the ACT with Writing will depend on the requirements of the institutions to which a student is applying.
Students taking the ACT Writing Test will be given a writing prompt followed by three different perspectives on that prompt. You will be expected to formulate your own perspective about the prompt while relating it back to the given perspectives. You will be graded on the quality of your essay, and not based on the specific prompt that you choose.
Your composite ACT score is the average of your scores on each section. Each of the four required sections on the ACT is scored between 1 and 36, with 36 being the maximum possible score. The chart above depicts how scores fall along a normal curve:
If you choose to take the ACT with writing, you will receive a writing score separate from your composite score. The Writing Test is scored on a scale of 2-12. This score is determined by the average of four subscores, each of which are also scored on a 2-12 scale. Two independent trained readers will each score your essay on a scale of 1-6, and those scores are combined to create your composite writing score.
1. Easy Questions: that you fully understand and/or can answer immediately
2. Hard Questions: that will take longer to understand or solve
3. Hardest Questions: that you will likely never be able to answer in the time allowed