ACT FAQs

Back to the General FAQs

Questions about the Test

Registration Questions

Score Questions

Test Day Questions



Questions about the Test

    What is the ACT?

    The ACT test assesses high school students' general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. The test is multiple-choice and is divided into four different sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. Additionally, students may sign up to take an optional Writing section, which measures the students' skill in planning and writing short essays.

    Back to the Top

    What is the format of the test?

    The test is given in four sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science. The sections are always presented in this order. The sections have 75 questions, 60 questions, 40 questions, and 40 questions, respectively.

    If a student signs up for the writing portion of the test, it will be given as the final section and will consist of writing an essay on a given topic.

    Back to the Top

    How long is the test?

    The timing for the standard ACT is shown in the table below.

    Section(s) Time
    English 45 minutes
    Math 60 minutes
    Reading 35 minutes
    Science 35 minutes
    Writing (optional) 30 minutes
    Total Time

    2 hours, 55 minutes without the Writing

    3 hours, 25 minutes with the Writing

    Students with extended time will have a total of 5 hours to complete the ACT (including breaks), and may spend as long as they choose on a given section. Extended time students who take the Writing section will be given an additional 45 minutes.

    Back to the Top

Registration Questions


Score Questions

    How is the ACT scored?

    There are four sections on the standard test: English, Math, Reading, and Science. For each section, the student will be given a score from 1 to 36. These section scores will then be averaged to give the composite score, which also ranges from 1 to 36. These are known as the scaled scores.

    The scaled scores are based on the raw scores for each section. The raw score for a section is simply the number of correct answers. Unlike the SAT, there is no penalty for an incorrect answer. The raw score will be compared to those of other test takers to obtain the scaled score.

    Should the student choose to take the writing section, he will receive two additional scores: a Writing score and a combined English/Writing score. The Writing score is the score for the essay alone and ranges from 2 to 12, while the English/Writing score combines the English and Writing scores (the English counting twice as much as the Writing) to give a score between 1 and 36. This is important because it means that the essay can either help or hurt the combined English/Writing score.

    Back to the Top

    How is the ACT essay scored?

    The essay is graded by two separate essay graders using this Scoring Guide on a scale of 1 to 6. The two scores are then added together to produce the final score. If, however, there is more that a point difference between the two scores, an additional grader will be brought in to ensure fairness.

    Back to the Top

    What is the average ACT score?

    The average ACT score is about a 21. Up-to-date information on average ACT scores can be found on this website.

    Back to the Top

    When will I get my scores back?

    Generally, scores are available online 2 weeks after the day of the test. You should receive them in the mail within 8 weeks.

    Back to the Top

Test Day Questions

    What should I bring to the test?

    There are several things you MUST bring with you to the test:

    • Your admission ticket
    • Acceptable photo identification (more information here)
    • Two No. 2 pencils and a soft eraser (pens and mechanical pencils are not permitted)
    • An acceptable calculator (information about acceptable calculators is available here)

    In addition to these required items, you should also bring:

    • A watch without an audible alarm (or one that is set to silent)
    • Extra batteries for your calculator and, if possible, a backup calculator
    • A bag or backpack to carry all of these things in
    Back to the Top

    What should I NOT bring to the test?

    The following items are not allowed, and should be left in the car or at home:

    • Any food or beverages (INCLUDING water)
    • Cell phones, pagers, and other personal electronic devices (except for watches)
    • Scratch paper (there is plenty of room on the test for your scratch work)
    • Any notes or books
    • A compass, protractor, ruler, or other measuring or drafting device
    • Highlighters, pens, mechanical pencils, and colored pencils
    • Portable listening or recording devices
    • Cameras or video cameras
    • Stop watches, clocks, or watches with audible alarms
    • Correction fluid
    • Tobacco in any form
    Back to the Top