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What You Should Know About the ACT Test

First things first...

How do I register for the ACT?

On You will first need to create a free ACT online account. Regular registration typically ends 5 weeks before a test date, so be sure to register well in advance to avoid late fees!

What do I need to register?

-40ish minutes

-Desktop or laptop computer, mobile devices not recommended

-Credit card or fee waiver

-Info on your high school courses

-Headshot photo (this isn’t necessary to upload right away, but def do this ASAP)

When should I take the ACT?

The best answer to this question is to plan ahead and assess your unique situation based on the questions below to find the ideal timeframe for you. The estimated sweet spot for the amount of time you should spend studying for your first ACT is approximately 100 hours. You also want to allow yourself the possibility for 2-4 attempts prior to your app submissions.

-Have you taken Algebra II, Geometry, or Trigonometry? Have you taken three years of science with one of those being physical science? These are concepts tested on the ACT so it’s helpful to have exposure to them.

-What else do you have going on in your life? We know most high school students are insanely busy so no time is ever necessarily a good time, but if possible, schedule your ACT when your course load is lighter or during your off-season for sports. There are 7 dates annually so you have some options! Be sure to also use summer to your advantage to lighten your studying during the school year.

How many times should I take the ACT?

ACT limits the fun to 12 attempts within your lifetime. If you are part of a program that takes the ACT in middle school this is included in that count as well. You should plan to take the test at least twice with the ability to take it a 3rd of 4th time if absolutely necessary to maximize your chance at earning a high score. Some schools will accept your “super score” which is your best score in each section across test dates. Others may require you to send all scores from all dates so try your best to make the most of each test date.

How much does the ACT cost?

For the ACT without writing the cost is $46, with writing the cost is $62.50. Low-income juniors and seniors may qualify for fee waivers. Please check out fee waiver requirements here.

What is on the ACT?

English: (45 minutes) tests grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and rhetorical skills.

Math: (60 minutes) tests aptitude in algebra, geometry, and some trigonometry.

Reading: (35 minutes) tests comprehension of passages in the following subject areas: social studies, natural sciences, literary narrative or prose fiction, and humanities.

Science: (35 minutes) measures your interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required in biology, chemistry, earth science, and physics.

Writing: (40 minutes) (optional) An issue will be described along with three different perspectives on the issue. You will analyze and evaluate the given perspectives, state and develop a perspective on the issue, and explain the relationship between that perspective and those given. Although this section is optional, and some schools require it while others don’t, you never want to limit your school options just because you didn’t take this section, so err on the side of caution and register for it!

What is the ACT score range?

The ACT math, science, English, reading, and composite scores range from 1-36. For each section, the number of correct answers will be converted to a score within that range. The composite score for the ACT is an average of your scores on those four subjects. The writing test is scored by two writers on a scale of 1-6, for a maximum possible score of 12.

Being prepared and knowing what to expect on the ACT can do wonders for your mental clarity and your ability to focus on the task at hand. Like all tough things in life, this too shall pass, so work hard and have the end in mind… your college acceptance letters! For the most up-to-date ACT information, please visit the ACT website.


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Don Munce