The following are the characteristics of the ACT test:

  • ACT is a curriculum based test.
  • The ACT is not an aptitude or an IQ test. Instead, the questions are directly related to the subjects taught in the high school courses.
  • The test consists of four multiple-choice tests that measure academic achievement in the areas of English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science, along with an optional Writing Test, which requires the students to complete an essay.
  • The test includes 215 multiple-choice questions and the candidates are allotted a time of three and a half hours to complete (excluding the Writing Test).
  • The writing section of the ACT test adds 40 minutes to the testing time.

In the past few years, the ACT test has found its place as a standardized test used for admission into undergraduate courses.
Let us understand-

Which Colleges Accept ACT Test Scores?

The ACT  is an universally accepted for college admission. All four-year colleges and universities in the United States, including all of the Ivy League schools, accept the ACT (all information on the ACT from ACT, Inc.)
Thousands of students dream of studying in the United States, so they apply for the competitive tests like SAT and ACT. However, being aware about the format of the competitive exams, can help the ambitious students prepare well.


Before appearing for the test, you must get acquainted with the format of the question paper, which will help you build confidence. You need to get a brief idea about the different sections of the ACT and the time frame within which you are required to complete these tests.
The ACT consists of following four compulsory sections and an optional writing section:

  1. The ACT English Test
  2. The ACT Mathematics Test
  3. The ACT Reading Test
  4. The ACT Science Test
  5. The ACT Writing Test (optional)

The image below depicts the different sections of the test, along with the number of questions asked in each section, types of questions asked in each section, and the duration allotted to complete each section:



  1. The ACT English Test (45 minutes) contains 75 items that measures your understanding of the conventions of standard written English, that is (punctuation, grammar and usage, and sentence structure) and rhetorical skills (strategy, organization, and style).
  2. The ACT Mathematics Test (60 minutes) contains 60 items and is designed to assess the mathematical skills that the students have typically acquired up till the end of their high school. The students should expect questions from elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry and trigonometry.
  3. The ACT Reading Test (35 minutes) contains 40 items and is based on four types of reading selections: the social studies, the natural sciences, literary narrative, and the humanities.
  4. The ACT Science Test (35 minutes) contains 40 items and measures interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required in the natural sciences.
  5. The optional ACT Writing Test (40 minutes) measures writing skills, specifically those writing skills emphasized in high school English classes and in entry-level college composition courses. All the students taking the ACT test should take the Writing test as well.

act test score


act test score decision

  • First they count the number of questions on each test that are answered correctly.
  • Points are not deducted for incorrect answers.
  • Then, the ACT converts the raw scores (number of correct answers on each test) to “scale scores.” Scale scores have the same meaning for all the different forms of the ACT. The date on which the test was taken does not matter. The scaled scores gives a scope of comparison in between the test-takers of all the versions of the test. The scale score is decided by looking at the raw scores of each section, while comparing the difficulty level of the said test. Now, according to the difficulty level of the concerned ACT test, the raw score is converted into a scale of 1-36 using the ACT’s formula for that particular test. The official site of  ACT provides different formula for raw score to scale score conversion for every  test.
  • The scores need to be converted because different tests have different level of difficulty. Thus, the converted scores give an idea about the performance of all the test takers in comparison to one another.
  • The Composite score and each test score (English, mathematics, reading, science) ranges from 1 (low) to 36 (high).
  • The Composite Score is the average of the four scaled test scores, rounded to the nearest whole number. Fractions less than one-half are rounded down; fractions one-half or more are rounded up.
  • Then, the ACT computes the seven sub scores (Usage/Mechanics, Rhetorical Skills, etc.) in the same way, but sub scores range from 1 (low) to 18 (high).
  • There is no direct arithmetic relationship between the sub scores and the test scores—this means the sub scores don’t add up to the test score

Writing Test Scores

  • Starting from September 2016, the ACT writing test score will be reported on a scale of 2-12 instead of the previous scale of 1-36.
  • Two trained readers will score your essay on a scale of 2-12 in each of the four writing domains, which are ideas & analysis, development & support, organization, and language use and conventions.
  • Each domain score represents the sum of the two readers’ scores. If the readers’ ratings disagree by more than one point, then a third reader will evaluate the essay and resolve the discrepancy.
  • Your writing score is calculated from your domain scores and is reported on a scale of 2-12 using the ACT’s conversion formula for the concerned ACT test.
  • Taking the writing test does not affect your subject areas scores or your Composite score; however, without a writing test score, no English Language Arts (ELA) score will be reported.

Your domain scores do not necessarily add up to your reported writing score. However, the essay will be evaluated on the evidence it gives of your ability to do the following:

  1. Analyse and evaluate multiple perspectives on a complex issue.
  2. State and develop your own perspective on the issue.
  3. Explain and support your ideas with logical reasoning and detailed examples, and logically organize your ideas in an essay.
  4. Effectively communicate your ideas in standard written English.

act test subjects
The ACT scores really help in determining your intellectual horsepower and play a big role in determining your academic fit, but the ACT has its own ways to measure your standard of preparation called as College Readiness Benchmarks Scores.

These scores represent the level of achievement required for students to have a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher in corresponding credit-bearing first-year college courses.

Which college courses play a role in the ACT test question format?

The college courses include: English composition, College Algebra, Introductory Social Studies & Humanities Courses, and Biology.

Benchmark ACT Scores
If a student scores at or above the following ACT benchmark scores, then he or she will likely be ready for first-year college courses–

  1. English — 18
  2. Mathematics — 22
  3. Reading — 22
  4. Science — 23


  • The ACT Student Report indicates rank, which shows the percent of recent high school graduates who took the ACT and scored at or below each of your scores.
  • Students can use the ranks to get a sense of strengths and weaknesses in the four general subject areas represented by the test scores and in the seven specific areas represented by the sub scores. A high rank in a content area may suggest a good chance of success in related college majors and careers.
  • A low rank may indicate that the student may need to develop skills more by taking additional coursework in that area.

What should be the appropriate ACT score?

In order to understand the score that will improve your chances of getting into top business schools. You should look into the average scores.

Average ACT Scores
The average ACT score of approximately 1.9 million test takers in the United States in 2015 was 21.0.

The average ACT score of the approximately 122,000 test takers in California in 2015 was 22.5.

Based on the above facts, you might ask –
What is the Average ACT Score of the students that get accepted by the top universities?

  • Highly selective colleges (who accept top 10% of the high-school graduating class) require their prospective students to have Average ACT scores in the range of 25-30.
  • Selective colleges (majority of accepted freshmen belong to top 25% of high school graduating class) require their prospective students to have Average ACT scores in the range of 21-26.
  • Traditional colleges (majority of accepted freshmen in top 50% of high school graduating class) require their prospective students to have Average ACT scores that vary from 18-24.
  • Liberal colleges (some freshmen from lower half of high school graduating class) require their prospective students to accept Average ACT scores within 17-22
  • For Open colleges (all high school graduates accepted, to limit of capacity), the Average ACT scores vary from 16-21


Starting from the year 2015, there has been considerable changes made to the ACT, in order to make it more convenient. Students who take the ACT will receive new scores and indicators designed to improve their readiness, and help them plan for their future, in areas important to success after high school, such as STEM which consists of subjects like (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and career readiness.

The new indicators will be reported to students in addition to the traditional ACT scores and ACT College Readiness Benchmarks.

The indicators will describe student performance and predicted readiness levels in categories such as STEM, career readiness, English language arts and text complexity, giving students a greater and more specific understanding of both their preparation for success after high school and how to better meet their goals.

And, as mentioned earlier, the ACT writing Test will now be evaluated on four domains of writing competency, which will allow students to more fully demonstrate their analytical writing ability.


 act test preparation

The ACT measures the knowledge, understanding, and skills that you have acquired throughout your education. Your performance in a specific area can be affected by adequate preparation-

This section will provide you all the necessary information required for your ACT prep, and will guide you with valuable tips that come in handy during your preparation.
We will also discuss the various options available for preparing the ACT, like Online ACT Prep, The Real ACT Prep Guide etc.

  • Familiarize yourself with the content of the test
  1. You should review the information about the tests provided by ACT, and make a note about which content areas make up a large proportion of the test, and which do not.
  2. Taking ACT practice tests can help students become familiar with the test. It is most helpful to take the mock tests that will be similar to that of the real tests and help you build confidence during the all-important test.
  • Refresh your knowledge and skills in the content areas
  1. Secondly, you need to Review those content areas you have studied but are not fresh in your mind.
  2. Spend your time refreshing your knowledge and skills in the content areas that make up large portions of the tests.
  • Identify the content areas you have not studied
  1. If unfamiliar content areas make up major portions of the tests, consider taking coursework to help you gain knowledge, and skills in these areas, before you take the ACT.
  2. Because the ACT measures knowledge, and skills acquired over a period of time, it is unlikely that a “cram” course covering material that is unfamiliar to you will help you improve your scores.
  3. Therefore, longer-term survey courses will be most helpful to you, because they aim to improve your knowledge through sustained learning and practice.
  4. Most students are serious about ACT and are desperate to do well. So the demand for the ACT Preparation Materials have increased considerably.You can take reference from ( for further details.


ACT PREP- The Online Way OR ACT Online Prep
It is the online test preparation program designed exclusively by the official ACT professionals.

  • What does the material consist of?

ACT Online Prep has practice tests with real questions; practice essays for the optional ACT Writing Test, with real-time scoring; along with a comprehensive content review for each of the ACT’s four required tests namely —English, Math, Reading, and Science.

  • How to study and where can we get the materials?

You can study anywhere, anytime and get access via the Internet. However, new version of ACT Online Prep was launched at the end of 2015. The highlights of this version include new learning content, a learning path made specific to your needs, a guided plan that will adjust based on your timeframe, tests designed to simulate the actual exam,
and a game centre to test your knowledge.

  •  Are there any other options available?

Interestingly, students may also get a free mobile app with their purchase of ACT Online Prep for on-the-go reviewing.

  • The Real ACT Prep Guide

This is the official prep book from the makers of the ACT test.
It includes five practice tests used in previous actual test administrations–

  1. Each with an optional Writing Test; explanations for all right and wrong answer Choices.
  2. An in-depth look at the optional Writing Test and how it is scored;
  3. Valuable test-taking strategies for each test section; all you need to know about the ACT—formatting, structure, registration, and how colleges interpret your scores;
  4. A review of important topics in English, math, science, and writing;
  5. How to prepare—physically, mentally, and emotionally—for test day;
  6. A CD version that contains supplemental resources to help you explore colleges and get college planning advice.