ACT Test FAQ
What is the ACT?
ACT stands for American College Testing. It is one of the standard exams used to measure the level of achievement of high school students. Colleges and universities in the United States use the results of this exam to determine if the student has the skills needed to succeed at their institution. ACT scores are also used to determine recipients of scholarships! The ACT consists of four mandatory sections (English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Reasoning) as well as an optional Writing section. The content is focused on what is taught in American high schools up to the end of the 11th grade.
What is the difference between the SAT and the ACT?
The SAT Reasoning Test is the other common exam used by American institutions to measure levels of scholastic achievement in incoming students. In the past, East and West Coast institutions required the SAT while the rest of the country required the ACT. However, the vast majority of colleges and universities now accept either exam. The SAT focuses more on abstract critical thinking skills while the ACT focuses more on the content that you have learned throughout your education. Check with the schools in which you are interested to see if they have a preferred test. Read our page on the differences between the ACT and the SAT here.
What is the ACT Writing test? Should I take it?
The optional writing section, which is always administered at the end of the test, is 30 minutes long. All essays must be in response to a given prompt. The prompts are about a social issue applicable to high school students. You are asked to respond to a question about your position on the issue described in the writing prompt. The Writing Test is fairly new to the ACT. It was added to the test in 2005, and it was decided that the test would be optional in order to be accommodating to the differing needs of both individual students and individual institutions.
Many students decide to take the ACT writing test due to the fact that it is very similar to essays required in school. More and more colleges and universities are requiring incoming students to take the writing test.
What is a good score on the ACT?
The average score on the ACT has changed over the years. Recently, the average score has been around a 21. Each college, university, and program of study has different ACT requirements. You receive a score for each of the subjects covered on the test (English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. The Writing score does not figure into the composite score). The average of these four scores becomes your composite score. The lowest score is a 0; the highest score is a 36.
How do I get a good score on the ACT?
As stated before, you are really only being tested on the topics you have learned in high school! All it takes is review, practice, and the right attitude. You should start reviewing and preparing early in the process. You can read about the types of questions that will be on the test, you can review the topics and skills addressed, you can take practice ACT tests, you can read ACT prep books or you could attend an ACT prep course.
I live outside of the United States, but I want to attend school there and I want to take the ACT? What do I do?
Most countries offer ACT test centers and dates for international students. This can be done at an additional cost. Some countries have only one date or location, so you may have to travel a distance in order to take the test. You can find more information about location and dates of international tests on the ACT website.
How do I register for the ACT?
The best way to register for the ACT test is to go to the ACT website and register for a free student account. From there, you can register and pay for your test. You can also view and order your scores and do other administrative tasks through the website. You can also register and pay by mail.
How much does the ACT cost?
The basic registration fee for the ACT is $34.00. If you wish to take the ACT Writing test, the overall registration fee is $49.50. There are additional fees for other services, such as changing your test date or location, or ordering more than four score reports.
How long does the ACT test last?
You can expect to be at the ACT testing center for 4 to 4.5 hours. You are expected to arrive before 8 o’clock. The test begins after all students are seated and registered. Here is a breakdown of the length of each exam:
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