According to act.org, the ACT test was named for the American College Testing organization, which has been offering testing services for students since 1959. Today, high school students take the ACT to examine their overall skill levels, which can then determine their eligibility to enter college. Scores for the ACT test range from 1 to 36, with 36 being considered a perfect score. Satteststudy.com states that less than 1 percent of test takers score 36 on the ACT test, while the average score is 20. A score of 30 or higher is considered desirable by many colleges, and can increase your chances of receiving scholarships as well as being accepted into some of the most prestigious universities.
Preparing for the Test
Study the subject of English very carefully. You will be allowed 45 minutes to complete the English portion of your ACT test, which consists of 75 questions about punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, strategy, organization and style. Make sure you are proficient in these areas. Your spelling and vocabulary skills will not be tested, so don't spend too much time on these areas.
Make sure your math skills are up to par. The ACT test includes 60 questions that must be answered in 60 minutes. Each question is based on 11th grade math. Actstudent.org suggests memorizing only basic formulas, since complex formulas will not be used on the test.
Brush up on your skills in science, including your understanding of scientific interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning and problem solving. The test includes 35 questions, which must be answered in a 40 minute time frame.
Practice your reading comprehension, including your referring and reasoning skills. The reading portion of the ACT test consists of 40 questions that must be answered in 35 minutes.
Practice your writing skills if you choose to take this optional portion of the test. The writing portion consists of one question that prompts you to write about one side of a given issue. The test measures the basic writing and composition skills that should have been taught in your high school English classes. You will have 30 minutes to complete this portion of the test.
Pack all the supplies you will need to take to the testing center. These supplies usually include a photo ID, your test admission ticket, several number 2 pencils, erasers and a calculator.
Get as much rest as you can the night before the test. Most people operate better when they are well-rested.
Eat a satisfying breakfast. Because the test takes about four hours to complete, you are likely to become very hungry if you do not eat beforehand.
Arrive to the testing center on time. You will not be allowed to take the test if you are late.
- Check the colleges you would like to attend for more information on whether or not you will be required to take the writing portion of the ACT test. Some colleges require you to take this portion of the test, while others do not. Your guidance counselor may also be able to help you decide.
- The ACT with writing test costs $48, while the ACT test without the writing portion costs $33.
- Visit actstudent.org for practice questions to help you prepare for the ACT test. Full practice tests are available from this site, but you must purchase them. Check with your school to see if they offer ACT practice tests.
- Some schools offer ACT preparation courses. These courses do require you to pay a fee, and are usually given after school or on weekends.
- Calculators are allowed only during the math portion of the test. You are responsible for checking with test officials to make sure your type of calculator is permitted.
Melissa Busse is a freelance writer covering a variety of topics, including natural health and beauty, budget balancing and parenting. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in studio art from Maryville University in St. Louis.