5 Things You Should Know About the ACT
5 Things You Should Know About the ACT

5 Things You Should Know About the ACT

The ACT test, an acronym for American College Testing, is a standardized examination utilized by colleges and universities in the United States to assess prospective students’ academic skills and readiness for college. This multiple-choice test covers four main areas: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. Students also have the option to take an additional writing test. The ACT score plays a crucial role in college admissions, making it a significant stepping stone in a student’s academic journey.

How Long is the ACT

The ACT test is structured into four primary sections, each with a specific time limit and a set number of questions. So how long is the ACT? The English section consists of 75 questions to be answered within 45 minutes, focusing on standard English and rhetorical skills. This is followed by the Mathematics section, which includes 60 questions to be completed in 60 minutes, covering pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, and trigonometry. The Reading section requires students to answer 40 questions in 35 minutes, testing reading comprehension. The Science section, designed to evaluate interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills, features 40 questions to be completed in 35 minutes. If students choose to take the optional Writing test, they are given 40 additional minutes to plan and write an essay. In total, without the Writing section, the ACT test takes 2 hours and 55 minutes, but with the Writing test how long is the ACT is 3 hours and 35 minutes.

Time per Question on the ACT Exam

How long is the ACT is relevant but more relevant is how much time you should take on each question.

English section of the ACT: 75 questions in 45 minutes comes to 36 seconds per question.

Math Section of the ACT 60 questions in 60 minutes comes to 1 minute per question.

Reading Section of the ACT 40 questions in 35 minutes comes to 52.5 seconds per question.

The Science portion is also 35 minutes for 40 questions and thus 52.5 seconds per question.

On the actual test, you have to consider the difficulty of each question. So the above numbers are just rough guidelines or averages. (The writing portion is not multiple choice so I have excluded the ACT writing section from our discussion.)

Score of the ACT exam

The ACT test score ranges from 1 to 36, with each of the four sections (English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science) being scored separately in this range and the final composite score being the average of these four. An additional score for the Writing section, if taken, is given separately. For each test taker, ACT also provides a detailed report showing the number of correct answers in each category, helping students identify their strengths and areas for improvement.

As for the waiting period, students typically receive their multiple-choice scores approximately ten days after the test. If they opted for the Writing test, scores for that section might take up to two weeks longer. It’s important to note that these timelines can vary due to various factors such as the mode of test administration (online or paper), holidays, or unexpected circumstances.

ACT Test Dates for 2024

The ACT is typically administered seven times per year, in February, April, June, July, September, October, and December. The specific dates for the ACT tests in 2024 are yet to be officially released. Students are advised to check the ACT’s official website to know the exact ACT test date. Registration deadlines are typically about a month before the test date, and late registration usually closes around two weeks prior to the test date.

Test Day

On the test day for the ACT exam, you must bring the following items to the test center:

  • Admission Ticket: Print your admission ticket from the ACT website; this serves as your entry pass to the testing center.
  • Photo ID: A valid photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport is required for identity verification.
  • No. 2 Pencils: Bring at least two No. 2 pencils with erasers for the exam. Mechanical pencils or pens are not allowed.
  • ACT Approved Calculator: For the Mathematics section, you are allowed to use a calculator. However, it must meet the ACT calculator policy.
  • Extra Batteries for Calculator: If you’re bringing a calculator, bring extra batteries just to be safe!
  • Snacks and Water: The test is long, so you should bring snacks and water for the break.
  • Watch (Without an audible alarm): Time management is crucial in the ACT, so having a watch can be handy. Remember, it must not have an audible alarm or internet access.
  • Layers of Clothing: Room temperature in each testing room can vary, so it’s smart to dress in layers.

Make sure you get to the testing center early.

Practice Tests

Doing practice tests is crucial.

  • Given how long is the ACT you should have good stamina to sit through the test. So doing practice tests will improve your stamina.
  • Practice tests will get you used to the testing process
  • Practice exams will give you exposure to the questions and test structure.

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