FAQ’s for ACT

The ACT (originally an abbreviation of American College Testing) is a standardized test used for college admissions in the United States. It was introduced in November 1959 by University of Iowa professor Everett Franklin Lindquist as a competitor to the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). It is currently administered by ACT, a nonprofit organization of the same name.

Below are answers given for some questions that are frequently asked by students and their parents.

Q: When is the ACT given?

A: The ACT is offered nationally in the same five months every year. These months are September, October, December, April and June.

Q: When should I register for the ACT?

A: There is no particularly fixed time to take the ACT. Students usually take the exam in the spring semester of 11th grade, because the exam content covers class materials up to that time. Maximum students find it helpful to have their ACT scores in hand when they begin the application process. In addition, taking the exam during 11th grade leaves ample time for preparation and retakes if your first score is unsatisfactory.

Q: What is the optional writing test?

A: The Writing Test is a 30-minute essay test that measures your writing skills—specifically those writing skills emphasized in high school English classes and in entry-level college composition courses. The test consists of one writing prompt that will define an issue and describe two points of view on that issue.

Q: How do I register?

A: There are three ways you can register for the ACT. The most convenient way is registering online. Paper registration packets are also available at different locations.

Q: How is the ACT scored?

A: You’ll earn one ACT score (1 to 36) on each test (English, Math, Reading and Science) and a composite ACT score, which is an average of these four tests.

Q: How many questions are there and how long will the test take?

A: The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes including a short break:

  • English: 75 questions – 45 minutes
  • Mathematics: 60 questions – 60 minutes
  • Reading: 40 questions – 35 minutes
  • Science: 40 questions – 35 minutes

Q: How much does the ACT cost?

A: The ACT exam costs $39.50 and includes reports for you, your high school and up to four college choices.

Q: How many times can I take the ACT?

A: You may take the ACT as often as you like. A separate score record is kept for each administration of the exam. Only the score record from the test date requested will be sent to a college. You can request for more than one test date report to be sent to a college.

Q: How much high school math do I need before I can start preparing for the ACT?

A: The ACT Mathematics Test contains 60 questions covering six content areas: pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry and trigonometry.

Q: I can’t test on the date I registered for. What can I do?

A: You will need to request a Test Date Change. Log in to your ACT web account and select “Make changes to your registration” no later than the late registration deadline for your new test date.

Q: I want to cancel my registration. Can I get a refund?

A: If you decide you do not want to test, your basic registration fee and any additional service fees (e.g., late registration, test center change) are nonrefundable.

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