ACT in a nutshell

The ACT is a standardized test that is designed to test aptitude in five core areas: English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing (optional). Students take the ACT in order to send universities their score along with the rest of their application. It is especially useful as ACT also reports your score as a percentile so that universities know how you stand amongst other test-takers.

The ACT is composed of four multiple choice sections—English, Math, Reading, and Science-and one optional essay section-Writing. The total duration of the test is 2 hours and 55 minutes for the ACT without Writing and 3 hours and 35 minutes for the ACT with Writing. The breakdown of each section is as follows:

Section # of Questions & Time Limit Content & Skills Covered Questions Types
English 75 questions in 45 minute Grammar and usage, punctuation, sentence structure, strategy,organization and style Four-choice, multiple-choice, usage/ mechanic and rhetorical skills questions
Math 60 question in 60 minutes free algebra,elementary algebra, intermediate algebra,coordinate geometry, plane geometry and trigonometry Five-choice, multiple- choice questions
Reading 40 questions in 35 minute Reading comprehension of what is directly stated or implied Four-choice, multiple- choice referring and reasoning questions
Science 40 questions in 35 minute Interpretation, analysis ,evolution, reasoning and problem solving four-choice, multiple- choice data representation,research summaries, and conflicting viewpoints questions
Writing (optional) 1essay in 40 min. Writing skills essay prompt

ACT English

The English test consists of 75 questions that must be answered within the 45-minute time limit. There are two types of ACT English questions: Usage/Mechanics questions and Rhetorical Skills questions.

Usage/ Mechanics Questions (Total of 40 Questions)
Skills/ Content Tested Examples # of Questions
Punctuation Commas,apostrophes,colons, semicolons, dashes, periods,question marks, and exclamation points 7-11
Grammar and usage Subject -verb agreement, pronoun agreement, pronoun forms and cases, adjectives, adverbs forms, comparative and superlative modifiers, and idioms 11-15
Sentence structure Subordinate or dependent clause run-on or fused sentence comma splices, sentence fragments, misplaced modifiers, shifts in verb tense or voice ,and shifts in pronoun person or number 15-19
Rhetorical Questions (Total of 35 Questions)
Skills/ Content Tested Examples # of Questions
Strategy Adding, revising or deleting sentences; how a sentence fits with the purpose, audience and focus of a paragraph or essay as a whole 11-15
Organization Opening transitional , and closing phrases or statements;order and focus of the sentence or paragraphs 7-11
Style Writing style, tone clarity, and effectiveness eliminating ambiguity, wordiness, and redundant material; clarifying vague or awkward material 11-15

ACT Math

The math section of the ACT consists of 60 multiple choice questions. It only tests concepts that are taught to high school students up to the beginning of grade 12. As such, most students find the content relatively straightforward and only need to practice on time-management as well as test-taking strategy.

The content breakdown for ACT math is (Pie Chart):

ACT Reading

The Reading section requires you to answer 40 questions in 30 minutes. There will be three passages and one passage pair, each with roughly 10 questions. The passages will be based on four different subject areas such as humanities, natural science, social science and literary fiction.

ACT Science

The ACT is different to the SAT in that the ACT also features a Science section. It features 40 questions to be answered in 35 minutes. Similar to the English section, this section also requires you to answer the questions based on passages which may include diagrams such as graphs, tables, charts etc.

There are three main types of questions you'll see on ACT Science (Pie Chart).

ACT Writing

The Writing section tests your ability to write a cohesive essay based on arguments and opinions presented in a short passage. As such, there is only one question. You are given 40 minutes to plan, write and edit your writing. The given passage often deals with contemporary issues and presents different perspectives from which students are expected to develop their own perspective which they then deliver through their essay.

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