Preparing to get into college can be confusing. Which tests should you take and when? The ACT is one of two main tests that some colleges may require to gain entrance to these higher education institutions. The SAT and ACT both show your ability to retain and use information, and how prepared you are to take on the more rigorous classwork in college.

Sections on the ACT

You will have specifically allotted time to complete each of the four sections on the ACT, which takes two hours and 55 minutes to complete. The sections on the ACT are:

  • English: You will have 45 minutes to complete 75 questions on sentence structure, grammar and usage, punctuation, style, strategy and organization.
  • Math: The allotted time for this 60-question section is one hour. It will test your knowledge of pre-algebra, algebra, geometry and trigonometry.
  • Reading: You are given 35 minutes to read passages and answer 40 questions to summarize the main ideas of the passages and to draw a conclusion, determine the writer’s meaning and analyze word choice and to evaluate an author’s claims by using evidence in the test.
  • Science: You are given 35 minutes to answer 40 questions where you will need to interpret, analyze and evaluate data, problem solve and read graphs.

ACT Score Table

Your scaled score is made up of the number of correct answers you completed in each section of the ACT. The average score is 21 with the highest being 36.

The ACT score table is adjusted at each administration to make all of the scaled scores comparable across test dates. You receive a point for every correct answer. This is your ACT raw score.

This raw score is then converted into your ACT scale score of one to 36 by dividing your correct answers from all of the categories by the number of categories. Simply put, the number of correctly answered questions are added up and divided by four to get your overall ACT score.

When the ACT Is Offered

The standardized test is only available at certain times of the year. These are:

  • September
  • October
  • December
  • February
  • April
  • June
  • July

Always check your local testing center for the latest dates and times available before making a decision of when and where to take the ACT.

ACT Plus Writing Option

If you are confident with your writing skills under pressure, this 40-minute optional essay test can be beneficial. A good essay score on the ACT can help you skip over basic English classes in college and skip placement tests. Not all colleges require this part of the ACT, which is given after the main test is complete and costs extra to take.

Your writing score is calculated by two official graders who score your essay from one to six based on each of four domains. Your score will be in the range of two to 12. An ACT essay rubric can be found online that offers details on how the essay portion of the ACT is graded.

How to Prepare for ACT

If you take AP or honors classes, these will help you to prepare for taking the ACT as well as the SAT. Preparing for taking this lengthy test can ensure you get a higher score than the average 21.

A healthy ACT score predictor is how well you do with online practice tests. Study groups online or at your local library or community center can help you to study for the test. They are a good ACT score predictor that can narrow down what subjects may need more of your concentration.

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About the Author

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.