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What is the ACT?

The ACT is one of the tests that can be included in applications to gain admission to universities and colleges in the United States.  It was established in 1959, and it is known as the American College Testing (ACT for short).

While there are no limitations to age for taking the ACT, it is generally taken by students of their final two years in high school or secondary school. Once students have received their testing results, it can be included in students’ applications to US college and universities.

There are 2 options when registering for the ACT.  There is the ACT Plus Writing option, and the ACT (No Writing) option.  The ACT Plus Writing option includes a 30-minute essay section that tests students’ ability in writing.  Some colleges and universities require the writing portion of the ACT, and some do not.  Make sure you find out about the universities you want to apply to in order to decide whether to take the ACT with or without the writing portion.

There are 4 main sections to the ACT (No Writing) and 5 main sections to the ACT Plus Writing : English, Mathematics, Reading, Science and the Writing Section (depending which test you choose). Each section is 36 points except for the writing portion, which is only 12 points. The whole test consists of 215 questions and takes approximately 4 hours.

Why is the ACT important?

Despite the changes in the US university application process throughout the years, certain things remain the same – acing standardized tests will increase  your chance in getting into universities; namely, acing the ACT will certainly increase your chance in being admitted to top universities in the USA.

Taking the ACT provides more benefits than just satisfying the requirements for university entrance.

  • It will help you develop useful test taking skills which can be applied to similar testing situations.
  • Test taking skills are extremely important as standardized testing is often a requirement if you plan to apply for further scholarship.
  • The ACT will help universities to know your skills better.

When should I take the ACT? While there are no limitations to age for taking the ACT, we suggest that students finish all their standardized tests in their Junior Year. During the senior year, students should be focusing on their applications so with readily available test results, you can decide which universities and colleges you can apply to.

When are the ACT exams held?

The links below offer dates of when the ACT will be.

For U.S., U.S. Territories, and Canada:

For other countries:

Where to register for the ACT?

Online ACT Test Registration –

  • The ACT Plus Writing test can be taken on all the national test dates within the U.S., U.S. territories, Puerto Rico, and Canada.
  • The ACT Plus Writing test can be taken on the four international test dates in other countries not noted above.
  • Make sure that you have registered and paid for the right test.

 What ACT score is good enough to get into my top choice schools? The following links show ACT sample scores of different universities in the U.S.
 What Colleges Require the Writing Section? The website below is a search engine that will inform you whether the colleges and universities you are looking at require the ACT writing portion. 
Sections (Points) Task Number of Questions Amount of Time Contents
English (36 points) Read 5 passages and complete questions 75 questions 45 minutes
  • Sentence structure, grammar, usage, and punctuation (approx. 40 questions)
  • Style, strategy, revision and organization in writing (approx. 35 questions)
Mathematics (36 points) Complete 60 mathematical questions 60 questions 60 minutes
  • Pre-algebra and elementary algebra (approx. 24 questions)
  • Intermediate algebra and coordinate geometry (approx. 18 questions)
  • Plane geometry and trigonometry (approx. 18 questions)
Reading Section (36 points) Read 4 passages and complete questions 40 questions 35 minutes
  • Prose fiction, humanities, social studies and natural sciences
  • Tests your ability to extract detail, draw conclusions, determine main points and tone, and define vocabulary within context.
Science Reasoning (36 points) Read 7 passages and complete questions 40 questions 35 minutes
  • Biology, chemistry, earth and space science, and physics
  • Tests your ability to analyze graphs and charts, compare data and investigate perspectives of two hypotheses
Writing Section – optional (12 points) Respond to a given prompt in an essay format 1 prompt 30 minutes Tests your ability to argue a position on an issue and to write a concise but organized essay