About the ACT exam

The ACT is anabbreviation for American College Testing, a paper-based standardized collegeanduniversityentrance exam. It assesses a student’scompetency in four test areas:English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. Besides, there is an optional 40-minute Writing section. If you’re in grades11 or 12, you need to take the ACT as a part of your college application process. Just like the similar SAT exam, collegesand universities use the ACT results in factoring admissions.

The test format

This ACT exam is made of four multiple-choice sections: English, Math, Reading, Science, plus one optional Writing section. During the test, you are allocated 175 minutes to complete it. Here is a breakdown of the various sections of the ACT:

  1. English: 75 questions, 45 minutes. Focuses on grammar, punctuation, sentence structure.
  2. Math: 60 questions, 60 minutes. Checks coordinate geometry, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, pre-algebra, plane geometry, and
  3. Reading: 40 questions, 35 minutes. Evaluates reading and reasoning skills (four passages).
  4. Science: 40 questions, 35 minutes. Measures ability to interpret, analyze, evaluate, reason, and solve
  5. Writing (optional): one essay, 40 minutes. Assesses writing skills.

The ACT registration

Moststates offer the ACTtestsix times a year. The test dates are slotted for Saturdays in the months of February, April, June, September, October, and December. Registration for the ACT is done online. Ideally,you should register online and then print an admission ticket. Additionally, registering online lets you determine whether your local test center hasvacant places. However, you need to create an account at actstudent.org before registering for the ACT. In order to do this, you will be required to provide the details, including your contact info, as well as your high school scores. Creating an account lets you print your admission ticket, select and edit the test dates, view your scores, obtain the test reports, as well as update your high school details.

Note that the ACT fees vary based on the type of test youregistered for, your registration time, and the number ofcolleges you’re applying to. Currently, a standard ACT test costs $34, while the ACT Plus Writing reaches $49.5. Besides, sending your test scores to more than 4 colleges attracts an additional fee of $10.

The ACT test scores

The ACT test scores measure an applicant’s academic skills in four core areas. Each section of the test gives you from 1 to 36 points. The points your score in these sections are used to compute a CompositeACT score ranging from 1 to 36 points as well. It represents the level of your academic abilities. For example, if you score 27 points, then your range is between 25 and 26. To better understand the ACT score you receive, you should:

  • View your percentile ranking
  • Consider whether your ranking is sufficient to meet the college admission requirements
  • Pinpoint the areas in which you are strong or weak
  • Compare your ACT scores against your high school scores

4 Tips for acing the ACT test

  1. Forget working out questions in order

Avoid spending too much time on hard questions. Instead, you should attempt the easiest questions first. Classify questions as “do now”, “later”, or “never”. Use your familiarity with a question’s subject matter to help you do this classification. Accordingly, work through the test based on how you classify its questions. To feel yourself more confident during your exam, find online practice tests with exam questions to know how the test will look like. Use ACT practice test questions to ace the exam fast.

  1. Decide on a “letter of the day”

Although you may not know the answer to a question, this doesn’t mean that you should leave it unanswered. Luckily, the ACT test imposes no penalties for wrong answers. So, select a two-letter combo and use it to answer the “never”questions. Remember to consistently stick to your “letters of the day” throughout the test. Doing so increases your chances of picking up points along the way.

  1. Focus on identifying the wrong answers first

One key advantage of multiple-choice tests is that the correct answers are located right there on the paper. Typically, the ACT tests use the wrong answers to obscure correct answers. So, crossing out the wrong answers helps you make the right ones more apparent.

  1. Have a bluffing plan

Use this tip to help you overcome the anxiety of marking your answers on the test sheet. For the English and Math sections, work on the test one page at a time. Likewise, for the Science and Reading sections, attempt the test one passage at a time. Most importantly, don’t forget to circle your answers! Then, be sure to transfer your answers to the answer sheet all in one go. Doing so ensures that you remain focusedon answering questions rather than figuring out where you left off on the answer sheet.

Top ACT preparation resources

This website offers various ACT test preparation resources that include practice tests, video walkthroughs, ACT/SAT articles, practice tests, and flashcards. Plus, the site is user-friendly,meaning that you’ll feel right at home when accessing prep content. Besides, prep content is organized on a subject by subject basis.

  • Kaplan Test Prep

One of the most popular test preparation courses with a wide variety of educational resources. Kaplan Test Prepcomprise six hours of live sessions, on-demand lessons, preparation resources, quizzes, and practice tests. What’s more, it has several courses customized to meeta candidate’s unique needs.

  • Peterson’s ACT Prep Online Course

This platform provides help to the ACT candidates no matter where they are located. Apart from the desktop version, the site has a mobile version as well, so it doesn’t matter which device you’re using. Even better, here youcan choose between long, medium, or short ACT study plans.


If you follow the tips provided in this article and make use of the top Internet preparation resources, then you are likely to pass the ACT test without any troubles. But remember that the most important part of a success is your determination and hard work.