A Full Guide to the American College Test (ACT)

When applying for colleges, taking the ACT exam is essential, and in some cases, required. Colleges use admission tests like the ACT and SAT to ease their decision-making process during admission.

Having this in mind, it makes sense to prepare adequately for the admission exam. In our comprehensive guide, you will learn more about the ACT, what it is, its components, and how you can optimize your results.

What is the ACT?

The American College Test (ACT) is a national standardized test that measures critical thinking and aptitude. Colleges and universities carefully examine ACT examination results when admitting students.

While this test can be both difficult and time-consuming, consistency and good preparation are important. Once you’re done, you will have a better idea of the university that suits you best.

How do I register for the ACT?

Registering for the Act exam can be done in two ways: online or through the post. Of course, the most efficient of these is online registration. The only reason to register for ACT via mail is if you’re below 13 years old and don’t wish to pay through a credit card.

Quick Tips for Registering for the ACT

It’s important to register for the ACT as soon as possible so that you can reserve a spot. Then, if a test was canceled, you will access the latest updates from ACT and might be able to reschedule your test fast.

Below are some tips that will help you with ACT registration.

  • Register Online.Online registration on the ACT website is the easiest way to register. You can make changes from your online account, view your scores as soon as they’re out, and print your admission tickets.
  • Submit a photo.You need to upload a photo of yourself at least one week before the day of the optional Writing test. You can register for the writing test as it is offered on similar dates to the ACT.
  • Pay your fee or apply for a waiver.Without the optional Writing test, the registration fee is $55 and $70 with writing. There’s also a $13 fee for each report sent to colleges.

What are the five sections of the ACT?

The ACT tests a student’s skills in 5 core areas: Math, English, Science, Reading, and Writing. Writing is optional. Some schools recommend taking the writing section, while others don’t.

Whether or not you should take the writing section will also be dictated by the kind of school and programs you are applying to. It’s important to research the schools that you are interested in joining and understand their requirements beforehand. Nonetheless, it might be to your advantage to take the writing section as it only takes 30 minutes.

Unlike the SAT exam, the ACT comes with a science section that needs extra preparation.

Below is a breakdown of the ACT based on its sections and questions in each.

Section Number of Questions Time Allotted
Mathematics 60 questions 60 minutes
English 75 questions 45 minutes
Science 40 questions 35 minutes
Reading 40 questions 35 minutes
Writing (Optional) 1 prompt 30 minutes

The mathematics section comes with a 5-choice multiple-choice structure. All the other sections, except writing, have four-choice multiple-choice structures. The writing section features an essay prompt and thus, doesn’t include a multiple-choice style of answers.

What content is on the ACT?


The English section primarily tests grammar and usage, sentence structure, strategy, pronunciation, word organization, and writing style.


Some topics reviewed in the ACT Math section include Elementary Algebra, Pre-Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, Plane Geometry, Coordinate Geometry, and Trigonometry.


The science section of the ACT challenges analysis, evaluation, interpretation, reasoning, and problem-solving.


The reading section of the ACT gauges reading comprehension depending on question content. Like it is the case with other exam sections, students deduce depending on the provided information.


The ACT writing section tests a student’s writing skills. It will gauge your ability to create and defend arguments clearly and concisely.

What is the best way to prepare for the ACT?

On average, you should study 2 hours a day in preparation for ACT
There are two main important things for excellent results on the AC exam: consistency and practice. Cramming is not the route to take here.


Studying for the ACT can be both physically and mentally exhausting. Therefore, you need to be consistent to build stamina – just like it is while training for a race.

For example, studying and doing practice exams an hour daily can give you better results than spending all the five hours in one day and failing to practice on the others.

By doing this, you will familiarize yourself with the test better. The more comfortable you feel with the exam, the better.


Mimicking exam conditions can go a long way in preparing you for the real test. Like almost all fields in our lives, the expression ‘practice makes perfect” applies here.

If you are looking to ace the ACT, fill out our online form and get our easy step-by-step study guide, practice tests, and flashcards that will save you weeks and months of endless studying.

After the ACT Exam: What Next? 

ACT scores are generally posted online two weeks after the exam date. You can send your scores to the colleges that you intend to join through the website. The scores won’t be sent until the results are available.

We hope that this article has broadened your understanding of the Act exam. To recap, you now should have answers to questions like what is the ACT? When is it offered? How does ACT affect college application? How to prepare for ACT tests? And so on!

By no means is this list exhaustive, but if you fully understand how to go about practicing and sitting for the exam, as highlighted above, you should be able to handle the test with ease.

Do you have questions that you need to be answered about ACT or SAT? Then, contact us today, and we will be happy to give you free exhaustive advice.

Continue practicing, and GOOD LUCK!

Frequently Asked Questions about the ACT

What’s a good score on the ACT?

The American College Test is scored using a scale of 1 to 36. Therefore, a good score will range from 17 to 36.

What does the ACT test?

The ACT covers five subjects. These are English, Math, Science, Reading, and Writing.

Is 30 a good score on the ACT?

30 is a good score. The highest score on the ACT is a 36.

Is the ACT Hard?

With good preparation, the ACT is generally a straightforward test. However, you have to pay attention to details and take your time to perform well.

What ACT Score do I need to Join Yale?

To be admitted to Yale University, you should score at least 31 on the ACT test. To have the best shot, you should aim for the 75th percentile, which is a 35.

Is the ACT or SAT more difficult?

Neither of the two tests is more difficult than the other. However, different students react to these tests differently.

Do colleges prefer SAT or ACT?

Generally, most colleges don’t have a preference on the scores you present them. So, the idea that SAT is favored by colleges more than ACT is just a myth.

What’s a good score on the ACT for a 10th grader?

For 10th graders, the average ACT score is 18 to 24. Therefore, a 31 would be considered beyond average.

How many questions does the ACT have?

The ACT consists of 215 questions and one essay.

How is an ACT test graded?

Each of the test sections is graded using a scale of 1 to 36. The scores in each section are then averaged to your final “composite” score. The final score is also based on a 1-36 scale.

What ACT Score will get me into Harvard?

Currently, the average composite ACT score for Harvard is 34. The 25th percentile for Harvard scores is 33, while the 75th percentile is 35. This implies that if you score below 33, you will be below average compared to other applicants. By scoring 35 or more, you’ll be above average.

Does the ACT math test have any calculus?

No, the ACT does not include any calculus questions.

Do Ivy Leagues accept ACT scores?


What Math is Included in the ACT?

The ACT covers six math areas. These are Elementary Algebra, Pre-Algebra, Intermediate Algebra, Plane Geometry, Coordinate Geometry, and Trigonometry.

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