Information on ACT Exam

Sources of ACT Exam Information That You must Not Miss

ACT is an abbreviation for American College Testing. It is a widely-recognized testing procedure that has been administered in the United States since November 1959. It is used for the following purposes:

  1. To measure high school achievement: in some states in the USA it is mandatory for high school students to take the ACT irrespective of whether these students later intend to go to college or not.
  2. As a college admissions test

Therefore, for a large segment of students in the USA, it is important to be always up to date on the ACT exam.

General Information

This is is a paper-and-pencil based examination held on Saturdays four to six times in a year, depending upon the state, in the months of September, October, December, February, April and June.

There are four main tests in the ACT. They are all multiple-choice tests, and are scored individually on a scale of 1-36. A composite score is also provided. This is the whole number average of the four scores.

There is also an optional Writing Test.

The basic test fee is $34. ACT Plus Writing costs $49.50.

In this test there are special provisions for the disabled, for homeschoolers, for those residing very far away from a test center, and for those who missed out on the late registration deadline. There is 'Special Testing', which allows handicapped examinees certain accommodations; and there is also 'Arranged Testing', whereby you can take the test in a non-test-center under a supervisor approved by ACT.

ACT is a competitor to SAT or the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

The Relevance of ACT and SAT

Why do colleges in the USA use these tests?

Thanks to American federalism, there is a good deal of divergence in the curricula, grading, academic standards etc. of high schools across the USA. Therefore, without ACT or SAT, it would be difficult for colleges in the USA to fix standardized academic admission criteria.

For those taking the ACT or the SAT, the test scores are not the only criterion for admission into American colleges. Though these are given considerable weight, the exact extent of their importance varies from institution to institution. Other factors which are also often taken into account include course work, class rank, and co-curricular activities.

Sources of Info

While, by using the words 'The ACT' in your search engine, you can find numerous websites which will tell you a great deal about the ACT, the best source for these, without doubt, is the official ACT website for students, viz.

The different kinds of information on the ACT exam that this website offers are as follows:

  • Why Take the ACT
  • Test Dates
  • What You Need to Know Before You Register
  • When You've Decided to Register
  • Test Fees
  • After You Submit Your Registration
  • Questions? (Where to go if you have any questions)
  • Standby Testing

If there is confusion on any matter relating to the ACT, this is the site to go to. Also, whenever there are contradictions in the details of the ACT exam supplied by the various websites, the information on the official website is to be taken as the final word.

The Different Sections in the ACT

There are four sections in the ACT test.

In the English section, there are 75 questions that you have to answer in 45 minutes. Five passages are set with different portions containing language errors underlined on one side of a page; on the other side, there are various options presented by way of corrections. You have to select the best option.

The 60-minute Math section contains 60 questions that cover pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, plane geometry, coordinate geometry, and elementary trigonometry.

The 35-minute Reading section tests reading comprehension through 4 passages, one each relating to Prose Fiction, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Humanities.

In the 35-minute Science Reasoning section, there are seven passages followed by 5-7 questions. There are 3 Data Representation passages, 3 Research Summary passages, and 1 Conflicting Viewpoints passage.

There is also an optional Writing Test of 30 minutes where examinees must write an essay in response to a given prompt on a social issue that has relevance to high school students.

Re-tests and Results

You can take the ACT as many as 12 times in an attempt to improve your scores, which are sent to your high school and up to 6 colleges (four within the registration fee, and two more with additional charges) that you might wish to join. It can also be arranged to send your scores directly to your home.

While this process might take anywhere from 3-8 weeks, the results/news of the ACT exam, by way of multiple-test scores or estimated dates of their declaration, are posted online around two-and-a-half weeks after you have tested.