About The Tests

ACT Overview

Share

Table of Contents

Exam Types

The ACT is a curriculum-standards-based test that assesses students’ academic readiness for college. It measures grammar, reading comprehension, math, and science skills. Colleges and universities use the ACT as one measure among many—class rank, high school GPA, extracurricular activities, personal essays, and teacher recommendations—of a student’s readiness to do college-level work. ACT scores can also be used as a basis for awarding scholarships and merit-based financial aid.

Since 2001, our expert instructors have tutored thousands of students toward mastery of grammar, math, reading, and science reasoning skills necessary to achieve the highest scores on the ACT. Our customized tutoring programs raise ACT scores an average of six points, with our hardest working students gaining over 10 points. Read on for more information about the ACT.

Section Time Number of Questions Content Covered
English 45 minutes 75 multiple-choice questions
  • Production of Writing
  • Knowledge of Language
  • Conventions of Standard English
Math 60 minutes 60 multiple-choice questions
  • Preparing for Higher Mathematics
  • Number and Quantity
  • Algebra
  • Functions
  • Geometry
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Integrating Essential Skills
  • Modeling
Reading 35 minutes 40 multiple-choice questions
  • Key Ideas & Details
  • Craft & Structure
  • Integration of Knowledge & Ideas
Science 35 minutes 40 multiple-choice questions
  • Interpretation of Data
  • Scientific Investigation
  • Evaluation of Models, Inferences, & Experimental Results
Writing (Optional
essay section)
40 minutes 1 prompt
  • Ideas and Analysis
  • Development and Support
  • Organization
  • Language Use

The ACT consists of four required sections with a total of 215 multiple-choice questions as well as one optional Writing section.

Test Administration

Currently, the ACT is administered in paper and pencil form*, and students can use a calculator for the math section. Students can take the test at local high schools, career schools, colleges, and other locations across the country and around the world. To find the location closest to you, visit the ACT’s Test Locator page.

Students may also take an “experimental” section of the ACT after the Science section. This section does not count towards a student’s composite score but should still be taken seriously.

*Some states or districts offer a fully online version of the ACT.

Section Retesting

Delayed indefinitely.

After a student has taken the full ACT once, that student may then take individual sections to gain the best possible composite score. Any retakes of specific sections will be taken online, and students will be able to take one, two, or three subjects in each retest sitting.

Scoring

Each multiple-choice section is graded on a scale of one to 36. These four scores are averaged for a student’s composite score. The ACT does not penalize students for incorrect answers, so students should guess even if it means filling in random answer choices.

Score Choice

The ACT offers score choice, which means that a student can choose the score from their best administration and have only that score sent to colleges. However, Writing scores cannot be sent separately, so if a student wishes to send a specific essay score to a college, they must also send the results of the multiple-choice portion of the same test.

Superscoring

As of fall 2020, the ACT submits superscores to colleges and universities. If a student takes the test or specific sections multiple times, the best score from each section will be reported and compiled into the final composite score sent to schools that accept superscores. The score reporting policy of each college is different, so we encourage you to learn about the policies at your schools of interest.

Writing Scoring

The Writing section on the ACT is optional. Two graders evaluate the sample, and each grader gives the writing sample a score from one to six in each of four domains. The respective scores are then combined for a score from two to 12 in each domain. This score does not factor into the final composite.

Test Date  Registration deadline  Late Registration (fee required) Scores Released
February 12, 2022 January 7, 2022 January 21, 2022 February 25 – April 7, 2022
April 2, 2022 February 25, 2022 March 11, 2022 April 12 – June 23, 2022
June 11, 2022 May 6, 2022 May 20, 2022 June 21 – August 5, 2022
July 16, 2022 June 17, 2022 June 24, 2022 July 26 – September 9, 2022

Press “click to expand” to view upcoming test dates.

Cost

The ACT costs $60 without the Writing section or $85 with it. If a student registers within the Late Registration window, there is an additional $36 fee. Cost information for section retesting has not yet been released, though ACT has confirmed that the price point will be lower than the full-length test.

Students may apply for a fee waiver if they meet certain household income criteria. For students that qualify, the ACT has clarified that each student will receive four fee waivers. Each administration would use one fee waiver, regardless of how many sections are being retested on that day.

Accommodations

The ACT provides a variety of accommodations: large print test booklets, extended time and multiple-day testing, and accommodations for English learners and students with physical disabilities.

Some accommodations are available at national testing sites and some require special testing environments arranged for by the student’s school.

Most accommodation requests are submitted through the student’s school and are processed in 10-14 business days. For information on requesting accommodations, including required documentation and how to apply, visit ACT’s Accommodations page here.

One of the most common accommodation requests is extended time, including multiple-day testing. The standard extended time accommodation grants students time and a half (1.5x), receiving an additional 50% more time per section. The total testing time for extended time tests is five hours without the Writing section or six hours with the Writing section. If a student’s IEP or extended time application supports more than time and a half, the ACT does offer multiple-day (two to four days) administered at the school for up to triple time. Students must complete the test sections in order and cannot go back to a section once it is already completed.

Ready to get started?