Your Ultimate ACT Guide: Everything You Need to Know
What is ACT? Answering this question is critical to advancing your journey to your dream college in the United States after completing high school. Before enrolling in any US college, students must take and pass the ACT, or American College Test.
This explanatory post shares all the facts about this strategic bridge to further your college education. We give you all the details regarding eligibility, preparation tips, fees, application, and everything you need to know about this test.
What Is the ACT, and How Does It Differ From SAT?
So, what does ACT stand for? As seen earlier, it stands for American College Testing. An NGO called AT conducts this exam. You can get more information about it on its official website here.
Students intending to join US colleges complete this exam in their final year or two of high school. It seeks to assess whether a learner qualifies to study in college. For instance, if you plan to take the American river college placement test, the ACT will be part of the qualifications.
In 1959, an education professor named Everett Lindquist created the American College Test. Unlike the more famous SAT, which judges students based on their logical reasoning or aptitude, ACT focuses on testing students based on what they learn in school. Since then, it has become more popular and reduced SAT’s monopoly. Therefore, most American colleges require students to complete SAT and ACT before admission.
What Is the ACT’s Scope?
So, how many questions are on the ACT, and what is its scope? This test comprises 215 questions.
The test has gained popularity in many US states. This century, it rebranded and changed its name from a “test” to simply “ACT” to make it more sellable to colleges. It has even expanded into middle school and elementary levels.
Moreover, the use of ACT as a testing standard has expanded internationally. Students worldwide can sit for this test because it sheds the “American” education quality tag, making it sell easily internationally.
Who Is Eligible for the ACT?
ACT eligibility is wide open, allowing anyone to apply irrespective of their academic grades. Thus, many American colleges have authorized ACT as the basic entry requirement. Any willing student only needs to meet their dream college’s admission eligibility to sit for this exam.
Moreover, ACT has no upper age limit. However, an applicant must have completed high school to qualify. Students between grades six and nine can also take the exam. All eligible candidates should meet the following requirements:
- High school graduates must take the test to demonstrate their readiness to join college.
- Grade 6, 7, 8, and 9 students may also sit for the test.
- Learners below 13 years of age can’t register for the ACT entrance exam.
- No applicant is too old to sit for this test.
- International applicants need valid passports as official identification cards.
- Candidates or their parents/guardians must have international Debit/Credit cards to pay the test fees.
- Applicants must sit for ACT at least two months before their college/university deadline because results are declared between two to eight weeks after taking the ACT.
How Do I Apply for the ACT?
The Internet is the easiest way to apply for the ACT, although you can do it via physical mail. Since the majority of people take ACT online, here is simple 11-step application process.
- Visit the official ACT website.
- Create your account to qualify for registration, receive correspondence mail, or view scores.
- Create a unique ID and password; write them down to be able to log in to your profile later.
- Move to the test registration.
- Choose the Test Option and Date. You will be redirected to the test registration after selecting the profile.
- Enter your high school grades, classes, and GPA.
- Select the college to send your information to because the system can automatically share your ACT results with four colleges.
- Choose your nearest test center.
- Confirm your details to avoid errors.
- Pay the applicable fees.
- Upload your portrait passport photo. It can be in JPEG, JPG, BMP, and PNG formats, and the file shouldn’t exceed 5MB.
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What Syllabus Does the ACT Cover?
The ACT syllabus focuses on the following high school education subjects: English, Math, reading, science, and essay writing (optional).
English. English focuses on sections testing rhetoric, structure, usage, and mechanics skills. Essentially, it tests a student’s ability to comprehend overall sense in written material, grammar, and tone. The test has 140 questions covering style, grammar, organization, sentence structure, rhetoric, strategy, and mechanics.
Mathematics. The math test has 60 questions covering pre-algebra, basic algebra, medium-algebra, coordinate-based geometry, geometrical plane, and trigonometry.
Reading. The reading test has forty questions covering four passages in four genres—prose fiction, social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences.
Science. The science test examines students’ reasoning, logic, and analysis based on science-related passages instead of actual learned scientific knowledge. The test requires students to make 2-3 diagrams, 2-3 courses in science experiments, and answer several questions on the subject.
Essay writing. This test is optional; you can only take it if your dream college requires it. The applicant receives one writing prompt on an averagely complex matter and 40 minutes to craft a well-reasoned response.
How Long Is the ACT?
Time is essential, and understanding how much of your time this test will take is vital in preparation and readiness self-assessment. So, how long does the ACT take? The ACT exam lasts 2 hours and 55 minutes, which is considered enough to answer 215 questions. However, taking the optional writing test gives you extra 40 minutes to complete the entire ACT.
What Is the Average ACT Score?
Answering questions like “how is the ACT scored?” and “what is a good score on the ACT?” is vital before taking the test and sending it out to colleges. Fortunately, the scores are easy to understand and attain with careful preparation.
All five subjects have a scoreline ranging between 0 and 36. Your ACT score is your average across all four subjects (or five if you take a writing test). The median score out of 36 is around 20. So, answering the question, “what is a good ACT score?,” you may focus on 25 as an excellent mark.
When Do ACT Scores Come Out?
American College Test (ACT) results come two or three weeks after your testing date. You can check the results in your ACT account or get a notification to your email.
Can I Retake an ACT Exam?
You can retake your ACT exam up to twelve times. Most students complete the test two to three times before joining college to ensure the highest score possible.
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How to Study for the ACT?
Now, how do you prepare for an ACT exam? Here are tips to help you get ready and receive a high score.
Prepare a strategy for all the subjects you will be tested in. Understand your weaknesses and strengths to plan how to tackle each subject and section correctly.
Answer all the questions even if you don’t have the correct answers. When unsure of an answer, better write the wrong one for the examiner to cross it instead of leaving blank spaces.
Choose a target score when sitting for these tests.
Prepare using the best study materials, and consult those who have passed an ACT for help and advice when necessary.
Lastly, take full-length practice tests regularly to monitor progress and familiarize yourself with each section’s pattern and instructions.
ACT Fees, Dates, and Locations
Now, let’s discuss money matters because the American college test isn’t a charity donation. First, you pay a non-refundable fee, except for optional writing test fees, which can be refunded when requested in writing. Below are the current rates and fees you will have to pay for taking ACT.
- ACT fee without the writing option is $171.50. It would include your report, school, and four chosen colleges only if you provided the codes during registration.
- ACT fee with writing option is $196.50. The fee includes your report form, school, and four preferred colleges, but only if you provided the codes during registration.
- Test option change costs $40.00. You pay this charge if you are absent on the test day. The writing fee is refundable after a written request or if you switch to the no-writing ACT option before the test date.
You may also pay other additional fees, as follows:
- Late registration ($36). The charge applies if you want to change your test date or center.
- Score reports for the 5th and 6th colleges ($16). You may request it online before the test date, and it’s refundable after a written request if you don’t sit for the test.
Regarding dates and locations, the tests usually happen seven times per year (September, October, December, February, April, June, and July). The exam’s dates and exact locations may change depending on your location. So, we recommend checking your local center’s dates on the ACT website.
Applicants to high-profile colleges must generally take the test once in spring and autumn before using it. However, the ideal test time depends on your preferred college’s application deadlines.
Knowledge Is Power
Now you know everything you need about the ACT. The ball is in your court to use this information to apply on time and boost your chances of joining your preferred American college. Good luck with ACT preparation!
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