What Is ACT Exam?

What Does the ACT Test and How?

"What is ACT exam?" is the first question that comes to the mind of a high school student as everyone begins to ask him/her about ACT and SAT tests. A simple answer to the question what is ACT exam would be to give the full form of ACT and that is American College Testing. What is Act exam used for is the next question. This test is a standardized test to evaluate a high school student's academic knowledge. It is a test that a high school student has to take up to join a college or university. The questions asked in ACT test are straight forward. The difficult part about ACT test is the time constraint.

  • Schedule

What is ACT exam schedule is the other commonly asked question. It is administered 6 times in a year in the months of September, October, December, February, April and June.

  • Sections in ACT

This standardized test consists of four compulsory sections and one optional section. The details of the sections are given below. The four compulsory sections are English, Math, Science and Reading. The optional section is the Writing section. All the questions in the compulsory sections fall under the multiple-choice questions pattern. 4 answer choices are given except in Math where 5 options are given.

  1. English

75 multiple-choice questions have to be answered in 45 minutes. Usage/mechanics and rhetorical skills are tested.



Percentage of Questions





Grammar and Usage


Sentence Structure










  • Punctuations - The usage of punctuations are tested in this.
  • Grammar and Usage- Agreement between subject and verb, pronoun and antecedent, modifier and the word modified, verb formation and testing fall under this category.
  • Sentence Structure - Understanding of the relationship between clauses, modifiers' placement are tested in this.
  • Strategy - Your ability to develop a topic with the given information and expressions is tested in this.
  • Organization - The way you organize your ideas and frame sentences is tested here.
  • Style - Your ability to select the correct words and images and your general language style is tested in this.


60 multiple-choice questions have to be answered within 60 minutes. 11th grade math is tested. Practical problem solving ability and reasoning skills are tested. Calculators are allowed to be used.


Percentage of Questions



Elementary Algebra


Intermediate Algebra


Coordinate Geometry


Plane Geometry





35 minutes are given to answer 40 questions. 4 passages are given. Your ability to identify the information stated directly and indirectly is tested here. 1 passage each from Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Studies and Prose Fiction are given to evaluate you.


40 questions have to be answered in 35 minutes. Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Earth/Space Science knowledge is tested in this section. Scientific reasoning skills are tested here. The information is provided and questions are asked from the passage. The passages fall under 3 categories:


Percentage of Questions

Data representation


Research Summaries


Conflicting Viewpoints



This is an optional section but many colleges/universities ask for this score also. A topic is given with 2 view points and you have to write an essay on one of the view points. The time limit is 30 minutes.

  • Scoring

The Compulsory section questions are first given a raw score. It is 1 point for every correct answer. This raw score is then converted to a scaled score. The scaled scores range from 1 to 36 for each of the sections. A composite score, the average of the 4 section scores is also given. This is also in the 1 to 36 range.

For the Writing section 2 readers give their score in the range from 1 to 6. The total of the scores gives the final Writing section score. This is in the 2 to 12 range.

  • Fees

The fee for the ACT test without the Writing section is $34 and with the Writing section is $49.50.

  • Preparation

After the question what is ACT exam is answered, preparation is the next step towards achieving high score and securing admission in a good college or university. There are many coaching companies which offer preparatory courses or you can study by yourself also.

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