In the US, applicants to colleges take a standardized test called the ACT. It is managed by the same-named non-profit organization, ACT, Inc. Since its first release in 1959 as a rival to the SAT, the ACT has grown to rank among the most popular exams for college applicants in the US.
The ACT is a multiple-choice test that covers four academic skill areas: English, mathematics, reading, and scientific reasoning. Additionally, there is an optional writing test with independent scoring. The ACT is graded on a range of 1 to 36, and the average of the results for the four major subjects determines the composite score.
Admissions officers at colleges and universities use the ACT to determine if a student is academically prepared for work at the college level and to determine eligibility for financial help such as scholarships.
Here are the things you need to know about ACT:
The ACT consists of four main sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science. There is also an optional writing (essay) section.
Here is an overview of the four main subjects on the ACT:
The English section of the ACT tests a student’s ability to read and understand complex texts, as well as their ability to write clear and effective prose. The English section includes passages from a variety of genres, including fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. Students are asked to answer questions about the main ideas, supporting details, and inferences of the passages. They are also asked to write a short essay in response to a prompt.
Students’ knowledge of coordinate geometry, plane geometry, trigonometry, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, and pre-algebra is tested in the ACT’s mathematics section. Both multiple-choice and free-response questions are included in the mathematics section.
The reading section of the ACT tests a student’s ability to read and understand complex texts. The reading section includes four passages from a variety of genres, including fiction, non-fiction, and social science. Students are asked to answer questions about the main ideas, supporting details, and inferences of the passages.
A student’s ability to comprehend and interpret scientific data and concepts is tested in the ACT’s scientific reasoning section. A range of scientific fields, including biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science, are covered in the section on scientific reasoning. Students are required to respond to questions concerning the passages’ primary concepts, illustrative details, and conclusions.
Optional Writing Test
The ACT optional writing test evaluates a student’s capacity to write an understandable and persuasive essay in response to a given prompt. The composite score for the writing test is determined by averaging the scores for the three primary subjects. The test is scored on a scale from 2 to 12.
The ACT’s four main sections are each given a score between 1 and 36. These scores are then averaged to provide a composite score, which is also a score between 1 and 36. Separate scoring is used for the optional writing section, which ranges from 2 to 12. For college applications, the composite score is frequently the most significant factor.
The ACT is a multiple-choice exam where every section has a time limit. The purpose of the questions is to evaluate a student’s proficiency in a range of subject areas. While there is a computer-based version available, the test is normally taken on paper.
Registration and Testing Dates
Students have the option to register for the ACT online and select from a range of testing dates offered year-round. Late registration, rescheduling tests, and other services incur extra costs.
2023-2024 Text Date (National)
|Test Date||Regular Registration Deadline||Late Registration Deadline|
|October 28, 2023||September 22||October 6|
|December 9, 2023||November 3||November 17|
|February 10, 2024||January 5||January 19|
|April 13, 2024||March 8||March 22|
|June 8, 2024||May 3||May 17|
|July 13, 2024||June 7||June 21|
Get a copy of your ACT Test questions and answers in September, April, and June! See www.act.org/the-act/tir for more information.
Colleges often take into account the highest composite score, but students are free to submit any combination of their ACT results. After the test is taken, score reports are usually given for free to up to four colleges.
A lot of individuals decide to take test prep courses, use study guides, or take practice tests in order to get ready for the ACT. ACT preparation might boost one’s chances of getting into college and increase their score.
In the US and its territories, Puerto Rico, and Canada, the ACT is administered seven times a year. Saturdays are usually when the ACT is given, though there are notable exceptions. Students can apply online or by mail to take the ACT. Students can work with a tutor, study review materials, and take practice exams to get ready for the ACT.
Numerous online and in-library resources are available to help prepare for the ACT. For students who intend to enter college in the US, the ACT is a crucial exam. Students can improve their chances of being admitted to their top-choice universities and receiving financial help by scoring highly on the ACT.
According to the nonprofit organization that administers the test, the ACT scores of high school students in the United States have dropped to their lowest point in over 30 years, suggesting that test takers are not yet prepared for coursework at the college level.
The average score for ACT takers in 2023 was 19.5 out of 36, down 0.3 points from 2022. This is the second year in a row that the average score has fallen below 20 since 1991, according to ACT. The minimal ACT test scores needed for students to have a good chance of succeeding in credit-bearing first-year college courses are known as the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks.
ACT reports that 1.4 million seniors in high school took the test this year, up from the previous year but still below pre-pandemic levels. Notably, only 21% of test participants reached all four benchmarks, and over 50% met none at all, according to the research.
“In terms of college readiness, even in a test-optional environment, these kinds of objective test scores regarding academic readiness are incredibly important,” said Godwin.