Thanks so much for all of the help on the essays and ACT. You have no idea how much you have helped me, and I credit you with a lot of my success in getting into the University of Chicago. Keep doing all of the great things you do.”
Ten Facts about the ACT
- Currently, every college in the United States accepts the ACT.
- The test is offered six times a year: September, October, December, February, April, and June.
- You can take the ACT as many times as you wish.
- You can submit only the test with your best scores, unless the school you apply to specifically requires all of your scores.
- You can view your scores 10 days to 2 ½ weeks after the test.
- The average score on the ACT is 21.
- The ACT has 215 questions over four sections: English, reading, math, and science.
- Each of the four sections of the ACT are scaled to a score up to 36. Your composite score is an average of the four scaled scores.
- The ACT has an optional writing section, and most schools require this.
- Timing is one of the biggest hurdles of this test, especially on the reading and science sections.
Registering for the ACT
- You should register online for the ACT at least a month before each test date.
- When you register, be sure your test scores will only be sent to you and not to colleges.
- Always register for the ACT “plus writing.” Although the writing section is optional, you are likely to apply to at least one college that requires the writing section.
- If you receive accommodations for the test, such as extended time, you will need to get a paper registration packet from your school counselor.
English (45 minutes, 75 questions): The English section contains five passages with 15 questions each. On the English section, conciseness and punctuation are emphasized much more than test takers realize. Although this section focuses mainly on grammar, reading skills are also extremely important!
Math (60 minutes, 60 questions): The ACT is often thought of as being a “hard” math test, but over 85% of the content is learned before algebra two. Algebra two (and higher) classes often reinforce this material, but students do not need to have taken these classes before the ACT. Also, since the math section goes from easy to hard, it’s not critical that all students finish the last 10 questions of the test. In fact, if a student has no more than 10 errors on the first 50 questions, he or she can choose a random answer for the last 10 questions and get a 25 on the section.
Reading (35 minutes, 40 questions): The reading section has 4 reading passages with 10 questions each. The reading section has longer reading passages than most tests, so students need to learn how to approach and maintain focus with passage based reading. The questions on this section are lower level, but timing is extremely tight at just 35 minutes!
Science (35 minutes, 40 questions): The science section is NOT a test of science knowledge. It is a test of logic, deductive reasoning, and critical reading. If a student knows how to approach the section, they’ll find all the answers in the passages. This section also has three distinct types of passages, and strategies for each can be taught.
Writing (30 minutes, 1 essay): On the writing section, students must take a position on an issue and write a five-paragraph essay. The writing score does NOT impact the composite score. Students will receive two scores related to their writing:
- Two graders will score the essay on a scale of 1-6. Those scores will be added together to give the student a writing score out of 12. Scores between 8-10 are what students most commonly aim for.
- That score out of twelve will be combined with the student’s English section score to create a combined English/writing score out of 36.