Frequently Asked Questions About the ACT
Q. What is the ACT?
A. The ACT is a college admission examination that consists of tests in English, mathematics, reading, and science--and an optional Writing Test. The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions.
Q. How long does the test take?
A. The ACT without the Writing Test takes 3 1/2 hours, including administration instructions and breaks. Actual testing time is 2 hours and 55 minutes, broken down as follows:
-English: 45 minutes; Math: 60 minutes;
-Reading: 35 minutes; Science: 35 minutes
The ACT Writing Test adds 30 minutes to the testing time.
Q. When are the test dates?
A. In the United States, the ACT is administered on six national test dates: in September, October, December, February, April, and June.
Q. How often can a student take the ACT?
A. A student may take the ACT no more than 12 times total.
The ACT now requires students to upload a picture when registering for the test. This photo will print on your admission ticket. Students will be required to bring a government or school issued ID on their test day.
Resources for Students and Their Families
ACT Student Web Account
Students can set up an ACT Student Web Account to register for the ACT. This account also allows them to make changes to their test option, test date, or test center, add, change, or delete college choices, receive email updates from ACT about their registration, view their scores, and request additional score reports. www.actstudent.org
ACT Student for iPhone and iPod Touch
ACT Student will help students anticipate and manage the ACT test experience. Using the "Practice" feature, they can answer practice questions and gain feedback. Log in for limited, read-only access to their own registration and score information and find straightforward answers to typical questions about events leading up to the test and the test day itself. www.act.org/mobileapps/actsudent/
ACT College Search for iPhone and iPod Touch
ACT College Search helps focus and narrow prospects for post-secondary education. Searching by names and/or selecting preferences, students can narrow the number of institutions to investigate more thoroughly. Students can view the profile, visit the webpage, and save their favorite two- and four-year post-secondary institutions in the United States. www.act.org/mobileapps/collegesearch/
Preparing for the ACT
Students can download the free booklet which includes descriptions of the skills measured by the ACT, test-taking strategies, general information about test day, and complete practice tests, including a writing prompt. A sample answer document, scoring key, and scoring instructions are also included. www.act.org/aap/pdf/preparing/pdf www.act.org/aap/pdf/preparing_es.pdf (Spanish version)
ACT Question of the Day
Visit www.actstudent.org where a new ACT test practice question is posted each day-FREE! www.actstudent.org/qotd/
High school students can read about real-life college and career planning experiences on the ACT Student Blog. The writers are actual high school students who share their stories and advice. www.actblog.org
ACT Online Prep
ACT Online Prep offers practice tests with real ACT test questions, a diagnostic test and personalized Study Path, and comprehensive content review for each of the ACT four multiple-choice tests- English, mathematics, reading, and science. Also includes practice essays with real-time scoring for the optional Writing Test. $19.95 www.actstudent.org/testprep/
Test Prep Links
Test Prep All Pencils Down
Henson Test Prep
Kaplan Test Prep
Nichols Test Prep
Need a tutor for the ACT? Please see Mrs. Harvard for the name of some great tutors!
Need help on the ACT or SAT? Maxthetest.com
The Redesigned SAT
The SAT exam is undergoing massive changes. The College Board is revising the current SAT because recent studies have shown the SAT used today is not a good indicator as to how well a student will fare in college, and the ACT has become more popular, with many students choosing to take the simpler ACT over the SAT. The changes include a return to the 1600 point composite score based on an 800 point math portion and evidenced based reading and writing sections, with an optional essay section. The new SAT will have one 60 minute Reading section, a 35 minute Writing&Language section, a 45 minute Mathematics section where calculator use is permitted, and a 25 minute Mathematics section without calculators. The vocabulary portion is also revised to test "high utility" words within a passage, rather than obscure words taken out of context. The new math section will correct the ailment of current SAT math covering "too much breadth and not enough depth," so students should expect to see de-emphasized geometry in favor of algebraic reasoning, statistics (graph and chart interpretation), and function models. The new writing section is very similar to the English portion of the ACT. The newly optional essay section will give students 50 minutes to respond to a prompt presented in the context of a document, emphasizing "evidence- based writing," in which students will have to pull textual evidence from the document to argue their points and justify their conclusions. Students will also be expected to draw conclusions by taking account of evidence, to revise and edit text, to analyze data and interpret graphs, and to solve the types of math problems most commonly seen in college courses. Another major change is the elimination of the guessing penalty, the practice of subtracting points for wrong answers. The new SAT will be in line with the Common Core curriculum standards, and it will not be administered until March of 2016. Students today, however, can still prepare for the exam by taking practice exams, mimicking the time constraints conditions of the actual test.