Prepaway – Complete ACT (American College Testing) Guide


The ACT test is a standardized exam that the US colleges use as a part of their admission requirement. A bigger percentage of colleges require the students to have passed American College Testing. It is administered by ACT, Inc. The main goal is to determine whether the individuals are ready for college or not. At the same time, it provides colleges with a single point of reference for comparing all applicants. Once you have completed the test, thosewho are in charge of college admission will compare your high school GPA and the exam scores before proceeding with the admission. Other factors taken into consideration include letters of recommendation, high school classes, admission interviews, extracurricular activities and personal essays. The bottom-line is that this is an exam that you wouldn’t like to fail. If you excel in it, you expose yourself to more options in terms of attending college and paying for it Visit Now.

What to expect in the ACT test?

ACT is divided into 5 different sections:

  • English
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Science
  • Writing

The four parts are mandatory and are presented in the order shown above. There is a fifth section that is optional – Writing. It is basically a 40-minute writing test. Even though it is optional, there are some colleges that make it mandatory to be completed as well. Feel free to check with your college the existence of such a requirement. You should visit the official ACT website to get acquainted with the number of questions in each section and allotted time.

The time allowed to finish ACT is determined by the number of sections you complete. If you just take the 4 mandatory parts, you are required to do them within 2 hours and 55 minutes. For those taking five sections, the allocated time is 3 hours and 35 minutes.

ACT scores

The scores you get in the test is a reflection of your academic position in English, Math, Reading and Science. A maximum score is 36. When results from the individual sections are obtained, your composite score is calculated. This is the average score of the four sections. The score you get in the ACT exam could be seen as a representation of a certain range within which your academic abilities lie.

The best way to make sense of your scores is to:

  • View your percentile ranking and make a comparison with other students’ scores.
  • Compare your ACT exam scores with the high school grades.
  • Take note of the strengths and weakness of your academic performances.
  • Research to understand whether or not you satisfy the ACT requirements of your selected college.

The best time to take the ACT test

The whole calendar year provides seven different dates when you can sit for theACT test. Colleges will accept scores achieved at any time of the designated dates. Thus, the best time to take the exam is when you are fully prepared for it.There are some basic guidelines you may want to put into consideration when scheduling for ACT:

  • Decide on two to three exam dates in a period of 3-4 months of each other.
  • The selected months have to be a period when a person is free to dedicate himself/herselfto preparation.
  • It is better for the students not to take their ACT until they are done with their sophomore year. This is because the test gauges how well-versed the individuals are in terms of Geometry and Algebra II, which are not learnt until the sophomore year.
  • It is advisable to take the exam at least two to three times before the senior year.

Many students find it convenient to take their ACT in June, before beginning their Junior Year. Whichever time you choose, you will find it wise to write the test at least three times, each attempt scheduled in close proximity.The other months when you can take ACTare February, April, July, October and December.

Number of times the ACT test is taken

The number of times you take the ACT exam depends on the college. If you apply to competitive colleges, you may have to take the test about 2-3 times. Whichever the number of times you will eventually take ACT, your planning should be in such a way that you are ready to take the exam three times.

There is a good reason why you should do so. Many students are normally hindered from performing at their best because of stress associated with external factors. The most stressful moment comes about when you schedule the test at a later date such that it is the only other available attempt. It basically eliminates the possibility of retaking the exam within the given year. Even if you have no plans of retaking it later on, scheduling it at least three times gives you some comfort and confidence knowing that you can retake.ACT can be taken up to 12 times. Of course, time and exam dates are a limiting factor. The exam is administered seven times in the months highlighted above.

Registering for ACT

The ACT exam registration is typically online based. Online registration is advantageous as you can see the availability of an open slot in the nearby exam center. The fees charged for registration vary based on the number of schools you will send the score. The standard ACT fee is $50 while ACT plus Writing is charged $67. An additional fee of $30 is charged for late registration.


That is all that you need to know about the ACT test. It is worth mentioning that the properly prepared students have the best chance to excel in the exam.