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The ACT is a standardized test used for college admissions in the United States. It is designed to measure college readiness across four main subjects: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. There is also an optional Writing section. The ACT is a critical component of students’ college application and is considered by colleges nationwide.

ACT Overview

The ACT is composed of four mandatory sections (English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science) and one optional Writing section. Each section is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, and these section scores are averaged to calculate students’ composite ACT scores. The test focuses on knowledge and skills students have acquired throughout high school and is intended to reflect student readiness for college-level work.

Sections Overview


The 45-minute, 75-question English section tests grammar and usage, punctuation, sentence structure, strategy, organization, and style. The English section features 5 passages, accompanied by four-choice, multiple-choice questions that test students’ understanding of standard written English and rhetorical skills.


The 60-minute, 60-question Math section covers a broad range of math topics like algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. The Math section features five-choice, multiple-choice questions that test students’ abilities to problem-solve, use mathematical skills, and understand complex concepts.


The 35-minute, 40-question Reading section tests students’ ability to identify main ideas, locate details, draw inferences, and determine the overall meaning of texts. The Reading section features 4 passages from various genres (prose fiction, social science, humanities, and natural science), one of which will be a set of paired texts, and features four-choice, multiple-choice questions that test students’ reading comprehension and analysis skills.


The 35-minute, 40-question Science section presents several sets of scientific information (data representation, research summaries, and conflicting viewpoints). The Science section features four-choice, multiple-choice questions that test students’ abilities to interpret, analyze, evaluate scientific information and use reasoning and problem-solving to come to conclusions. The Science section doesn’t test a student’s specific science knowledge but rather their reasoning skills in a scientific context.

Writing (Optional)

In this optional essay section, students are presented with a complex issue and three different perspectives on it. They are asked to develop their own perspective on the issue and analyze the relationship between their perspective and at least one of the given perspectives. It’s about crafting a clear and logical argument, using evidence and reasoning, and writing in standard English.


While both the ACT and SAT are used in college admissions, they do differ in certain aspects. The ACT includes a Science section, while the SAT does not. Furthermore, the SAT has a stronger emphasis on vocabulary, whereas the ACT focuses more on mathematical skills and scientific reasoning. The choice between the two often depends on a student’s strengths and preferences. 

Sounds easy to choose, right? Not so fast!

The SAT vs. ACT decision is different for each student. Let our skilled consultants help you navigate all the factors. Together, we’ll help you make the choice that will most benefit your student. 

Academic Approach's ACT Tutoring Approach

At Academic Approach, we offer a personalized tutoring program for ACT preparation. Our high-impact, tailored programs are designed to meet individual student needs and goals. 

It's why we've designed our ACT tutoring programs to 
"We couldn't have been happier with our daughter's score. She went up 7 points (25 to a 32), beyond our expectations. "
ACT Test Prep Family
Parent(s), Highland Park High School
Beyond the Test

With Academic Approach, students aren’t just preparing for a test; they are building the skills necessary for academic success and beyond.

Empowering Students, Enriching Lives

Academic Approach students don’t just improve their scores; they gain confidence, build resilience, and foster a growth mindset.

Data-Driven Results

We leverage data from diagnostic tests to create a study plan specifically tailored to students’ unique learning needs.

Starting Your Journey with Academic Approach

Starting your ACT preparation journey with Academic Approach is easy. It all begins with a complimentary diagnostic test and consultation to understand your student’s individual needs and goals. 

Arrange your consultation today. Together, we will realize your student’s academic aspirations.

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SAT/ACT scores now required for Cornell applicants