Description of the ACT
The ACT consists of four multiple-choice tests: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The ACT Plus Writing includes the four multiple-choice tests and a Writing Test.
The English portion of the ACT consists of 75 questions over a 45 minute period. This test measures standard written English and rhetorical skills.
The Math portion of the test lasts for 60 minutes. There are 60 questions on this portion of the test, which measures mathematical skills students have typically acquired in courses taken up to the beginning of grade 12.
The Reading portion of the ACT consists of 40 questions and lasts 35 minutes. It measures reading comprehension.
The Science portion of the test consists of 40 questions. This portion of the test lasts for 35 minutes. It measures the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning and problem-solving skills required in the natural sciences.
What Is the ACT Composite Score?
The ACT consists of four tests: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The score range for each of the four tests is 1 – 36. The composite score, as reported by ACT, is the average of the four test scores earned during a single test administration, rounded to the nearest whole number.
If one student receives test scores in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science of 20, 15, 18, and 17, and another student receives scores of 15, 18, 17, and 20, both students would earn the same composite score—18. Although it can be seen from the subject area scores that one student is stronger in English and Reading and the other is stronger in Mathematics and Science, the two 18s represent the same overall level of achievement. ACT therefore considers the two students' composite scores to be comparable.
Individual forms of the ACT tests are equated, a process that assures, for example, that a score of 19 on one form of the English Test represents the same level of achievement as a score of 19 on any other form of the English Test, no matter when the forms were administered. Further contributing to the comparability of scores across forms is the standardization of test administration: with the exception of tests administered with extended time for students who qualify for such accommodations, all forms of the ACT are taken within fixed time limits, in prescribed order, and under standard conditions.
What About the Writing Test?
The ACT writing test is a 40-minute essay test that measures your writing skills. The test consists of one writing prompt that will describe an issue and present three different perspectives on that issue.
The ACT writing test complements the English and reading tests. The combined information from these tests tells postsecondary institutions about students’ understanding of the conventions of standard written English and their ability to produce a direct sample of writing.
You are asked to evaluate and analyze the given perspectives, state and develop your own perspective, and explain the relationship between your perspective and those given. You may adopt a perspective from the prompt, partially or fully, or you may generate your own. Your score will not be affected by the point of view you take on the issue.
The ACT® test with writing is available on all six national test dates in the United States, US territories, Puerto Rico, and Canada; on five international test dates in other locations; and for Special or Arranged Testing during six designated three-week testing windows (five if testing outside the United States, US territories, Puerto Rico, or Canada).
Some colleges require the ACT writing test. You should decide whether or not you should take it based on the requirements of the colleges you are applying to or considering.
Students who have taken additional relevant coursework since they last tested may wish to retest, since they have reason to suppose they will do better next time. Students who believe their previous scores do not accurately reflect their achievement may also wish to retest. If, for example, they were ill or otherwise indisposed when tested, or it they were unfamiliar with testing procedures, it is reasonable to expect that they may do better on retesting.