ACT : American College Testing Assessment


The ACT (American College Testing Assessment) is one of the two major standardized college entrance tests taken in the United States today, (the SAT is the other). The ACT exam is an all-multiple-choice test with an optional essay writing section designed to assess college readiness of high school students. Unlike the SAT, the ACT is not an aptitude test. The questions on the ACT exam are related directly to the material students have learned in high school. The ACT test is accepted by all four-year colleges and universities in the United States. ACT practice tests, ACT prep courses are readily available on the Internet for students to prepare and perform well.

Why Take ACT?

Standardized tests like ACT are designed to allow college admission officers to judge all students by a common measuring stick. In addition, ACT helps high school students to prepare for college and further helps identify career options. Read below for Act dates, Act registration and ACT prep tips and strategies.

(Suggested Read: Right Resources for SAT and ACT Test Prep)

Test Structure

The ACT assessment, tests knowledge in five areas: English, Reading, Math, Science Reasoning and an optional Writing Test. The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions. The test is approximately for 3 hours 30 minutes.(There is a optional writing essay for 30 minutes, which few colleges require while others don't.)  It is up to the students to decide whether or not to take the writing test based on the requirements of the colleges they are applying to or considering. 



Focus Areas

Time Duration and Questions



Consists of five passages of nonfiction prose. Each passage contains 15 questions.

Punctuation, Basic Grammar  Usage, Sentence Structure, Strategy, Organization and Style.

45 minutes, 75 questions


In this section, knowledge is tested of the basic facts and skills taught in most high school math programs.

Pre-Algebra, Elementary Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, Coordinate Geometry, Plane Geometry  and Trigonometry.

60 minutes, 60 questions


Includes four passages; one being a fictional narrative, while others being nonfiction discussion of topics range from varied fields such as natural sciences, social science and the humanities.

Pose Fiction, Humanities, Natural Science and Social Studies.

35 minutes, 40 questions

Science Reasoning

Includes seven passages containing data presentation by means of graphs, tables, charts, or diagrams. Descriptions of experimental studies and their results, and presentations of differing theories or hypotheses relating to a specific scientific query.

Data Representation, Research Summaries, and Conflicting Viewpoints.

Note: Contents of Science Reasoning Test include: Biology, Earth/Space Science, Chemistry, and Physics.

35 minutes, 40 questions
Optional Writing A writing test is optional for candidates taking ACT Plus. Measures writing skills emphasized in high school English classes and in entry-level college composition courses. One topic- 30 minutes.

 Tips and Strategies on Each Focus Area






General Tips and Strategies

1.       There is no penalty for guessing, so ACT takers should fill in an answer for every question;

2.       Know the directions and answer sheet ahead of time;

3.       Read carefully and thoroughly. Avoid careless mistakes;

4.       Answer easier questions first, and harder questions later;

5.       Check answer sheet regularly;

6.       Develop a strategy for guessing.


ACT-takers actually receive 13 separate scores on the ACT: 1 composite, 4 subject scores, 1 writing and 7 sub scores. However the composite – or scaled – score is the most important. It ranges from 1-36. Nearly half of all test takers fall in the 17-23 range. On the ACT, unlike with the SAT, there is no penalty for guessing. So ACT takers should fill in an answer for every question, even if they have no idea of what the correct answer is.

Scores are available online for the subject areas approiximately 2 weeks after students take the test. While the writing scores take longer and is available after 2 weeks of the subject areas scores being published.


Registration for the ACT is simple and quick with their online registration form. Students can usually get an ACT test registration packet from their high school counselor. If no registration packets are available, students or counselors can write or call ACT -



There is a basic fee of $35 to register for the ACT and $50.50 for Act Plus Writing Test. Additional fees may apply for phone registration, repeat test takers, test date change and/ or for late registration . The basic fee includes having student’s scores sent to 4 colleges of their choice. Please view Act's official site for more details.

National Test Dates & Location

ACT Dates: 2015-2016

Test Date Registration Deadline
September 12, 2015 August 07, 2015
October 24, 2015 September 18, 2015
December 12, 2015 November 06, 2015
February 07, 2016* January 09, 2016
April 09, 2016 March 04, 2016
June 11, 2016 May 06, 2016

*No test centers are scheduled in New York for the February test date.

ACT Tests are administered at high schools and test centers nationwide. Check with your high school or guidance counselor or contact ACT, Inc. for more information.

International Test Takers

International students can visit ACT's official website to obtain a list of test dates and location based on their country of residence.