# About the ACT: Content, Scoring, What to Study

If you’re looking for information about the structure of the ACT, how long the ACT is, how it’s scored, and how you should study, this is the post for you!

The ACT is a college entrance exam designed for 10th, 11th, and/or 12th grade students. ACT test scores are accepted by all four-year US colleges and universities. In the 2018 graduating class, 1.9 million students from the US and around the world took the test.

The ACT is designed to measure the skills that are most important for success in a college environment. To accomplish this, the ACT tests students in four subject areas: English, Math, Reading, Science, and an optional Essay section. These 4 multiple-choice sections (sometimes referred to as “tests”) are scored on a scale of 1-36 and then averaged into one composite score, also ranging from 1-36.

## How Long is the ACT? What is the Structure of the Test?

### The Timing of the ACT

The ACT contains 4 sections: English, Math, Reading, Science (and an optional Essay section).

The test is 2 hours, 55 minutes long, and includes a 10-minute break between the Reading and Math sections. If you decide to take the optional Essay, you’ll get a 5-minute break after the Science section and then 40 minutes to complete the Essay section.

### The Structure of the ACT

The ACT test sections always appear in the same order: English, followed by Math, Reading, and Science at the end.

#### ACT Test Breakdown

 ACT Section Time (minutes) Number of Questions Minutes per Question English 45/175 (26%) 75/215 (35%) 0.6 Math 60/175 (34%) 60/215 (28%) 1 Break 10/175 (1.75%) – – Reading 35/175 (20%) 40/215 (19%) 0.88 Science 35/175 (20%) 40/215 (19%) 0.88 Break 5 Essay (optional) 40 – – TOTAL (without essay) 175 minutes 215 questions

## What is Tested on the ACT?

The ACT test sections always appear in the same order: English, followed by Math, Reading, and Science at the end.

### English

ACT English test puts you in the position of a writer revising and editing a text. Short passages rife with grammatical errors are paired with questions asking you to identify and correct the errors in the passage. This section covers standard grammar conventions and rhetorical skills. For this section, brush up on your knowledge of commas, semicolons, and sentence arrangement.

### Math

The ACT Math section covers Number & Quantity, Algebra, Functions, Geometry, and Statistics & Probability. This is all math you probably learned throughout your freshman, sophomore and junior years of high school. In general, the ACT’s math questions are straightforward. This can make them easier to solve, in the sense that it’s usually obvious what the question is asking. On the other hand, if you don’t know how to do the problem, you can be out of luck.

You are allowed to use an approved calculator on the math test. You are not given a formula chart.

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The ACT Reading section tests your ability to read and interpret passages of text. Like the English section, the Reading section is set up in a passage-question format. You’ll see 4 types of passages on the Reading section: Literary Narrative/Prose Fiction, Natural Science, Humanities, and Social Science. Each passage type is written in a different style and requires different strategies.

## Science

Also in a passage-question format, the ACT Science section is least like anything you’ve seen in school. Through passages and data, the Science section tests your ability to read and extract information from scientific passages and data. This is one of the more difficult sections of the ACT because you only have 35 minutes to read 6 passages and answer 40 corresponding questions. But don’t freak out – there are plenty of strategies to help you own this section.

## How is the ACT Scored?

Each ACT section is scored on a simple raw point to #/36 scale. There are no deductions for errors. The individual scores for the 4 sections (English, Math, Reading, Science) are averaged to create a composite score, which is also out of 36.

You can read in detail about how the ACT is scored in this post:
How is the ACT Scored?

Something interesting to note: on the ACT, while each section is ¼ of your score, ¾ sections are reading based – meaning your ACT score is 75% reading-based

This is something to consider if you find yourself a stronger reader or a stronger mathematician.

## When Can I Take the ACT?

The ACT is offered seven times throughout the year. Register for the ACT by visiting the ACT’s website and registering online. They say this takes about 40 minutes to complete. To register, you’ll need:

• Your high school course details
• Your high school’s code
• A headshot photo
• A credit card or other payment method in order to register.

Review the ACT website for a full list of information you’ll need to register for the ACT.

Many students take the test at least twice because your score almost always increases on the second try. We recommend taking your first test in the winter or spring of your junior year and your second test in the summer or fall so there is plenty of time to get your scores back before college applications are due.

When Should I Take the ACT?

### 2020 ACT Test Dates

 Test Date Registration Deadline (Late Fee Required) February 8, 2020 January 10, 2020 January 11-17, 2020 April 4, 2020 February 28, 2020 February 29-March 13, 2020 June 13, 2020 May 8, 2020 May 9-22, 2020 July 18, 2020* June 19, 2020 June 20-26, 2020

* No testing centers are scheduled in New York for the July test date

## How Do I Study for the ACT?

Studying for the ACT is not about memorizing formulas or tricks. It’s about learning the content that the ACT tests. If you fully understand the concepts behind the test questions and can apply your knowledge to new situations, you’re on track for a great score.

When you’re looking for study materials, look for materials that teach the concepts behind the questions rather than teach to the test. Not only will learning these concepts help do better on the ACT, but help you become a better student, too!

We put together a list of the best ACT prep companies for every budget to help you get started on your search. At the top of the list is our free ACT course. The content of the course covers every section of the test and is designed to help you connect with the material through relevant questions and animated explanation videos.

Developed by veteran ACT tutors and high school teachers, the course teaches you the concepts you need to know to own the test. And since it’s online and self-paced, you don’t even have to work around someone else’s schedule!

Head over to www.olive-book.com to enroll for free and start studying right away.