Information About the ACT
The ACT is a standardized exam that is accepted at many colleges
around the United States. It is sometimes seen as being an alternative
to the more well-known SAT I exam. The ACT is different in structure
and content from the SAT exams.
Questions to consider:
What is the ACT Assessment?
What is the ACT Assessment content like?
- General tips and strategies to improve
performance on ACT
When should I take the ACT?
How much does it cost to take the ACT?
Should I take the SAT I or the ACT?
- ACT dates and locations
The ACT Assessment measures knowledge, understanding, and skills
typically taught in high school that are important for successfully
completing a college education. The scores are useful to college
admissions officers in comparing applicants from different high
schools with widely varying courses and grading standards.
The ACT is an all-multiple-choice test given
This test is a multiple-choice examination divided into four sections:
English, mathematics, reading and science reasoning. The test
takes about three hours plus an additional thirty minutes or so
for directions and completing the personal information section
of the answer sheet.
A 75 question, forty-five minute test that measures your understanding
of the convention of standard written English, including 40 questions
on punctuation, grammar and usage, and sentence structure
questions on rhetorical skills, including strategy, organization,
Spelling, vocabulary, and rote recall of rules of
grammar are not tested.
A 60 question, sixty minute test
designed to assess the mathematical
skills you have typically acquired in courses taken up to the
beginning of grade twelve.
Pre-algebra/elementary algebra: 24 questions.
Intermediate algebra/coordinate geometry: 18 questions.
Plane geometry/trigonometry: 18 questions.
Plane geometry: Properties and relations of plane figures.
Starting this year (2002-03) You
may use a calculator on the Mathematics
Section if you choose to. However, check your ACT Registration Packet for information about restrictions on the kinds
of calculators that are acceptable.
A 40 question, thirty-five minute test
that measures your reading
comprehension as a product of your skill in referring and reasoning.
The test contains the following types of reading passages about
which questions are asked.
Social Studies: 10 questions. History, political science, economics,
anthropology, psychology, and sociology.
Natural sciences: 10 questions. Biology, chemistry, physics
and physical sciences.
Prose fiction: 10 questions.
Intact short stories or excerpts
from short stories or novels.
Humanities: 10 questions. Art, music, philosophy, theater, architecture,
A 40 question, thirty-five minute test that measures the interpretation,
analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required
in the natural sciences. Test content is drawn from biology,
chemistry, physics, and the physical sciences (earth/space sciences such as geology, astronomy and meteorology.)
The test presents scientific information in three different formats.
Data representation: Graphic and tabular material similar to
that in science journals and texts is presented. Test items measure
skills such as graph reading, interpretation of scatter plots,
and interpretation of information presented in tables.
Research summaries: This format provides descriptions of one
or more related experiments. Test items focus on the designing
of experiments and the interpretation of experimental results.
Conflicting viewpoints: This format presents sets of hypotheses
or views that, being based on differing premises or on incomplete
data, are inconsistent with one another. Test items focus on
the understanding, analysis, and comparison of alternative viewpoints
There is no penalty
for guessing, so ACT takers
should fill in an answer for every question
Know the directions and answer sheet ahead of time
Read carefully and thoroughly. Avoid careless mistakes
Answer easier questions first, and harder questions later
Check answer sheet regularly
Develop a strategy for guessing
Don't jump on the questions
right away. Skim the paragraph for a few seconds, and then start working on
Brevity is the soul of wit. The
best way to write something is the shortest correct way of writing it
Be on the lookout for
subject-verb and noun-pronoun agreement
Be on the lookout for sentence
fragments, incorrect sentence structure, verbosity and inappropriate use of
phrases and idioms
Develop the habit of
occasionally checking your progress through the test
calculator only when you need to
and analyze the problem before
patterns and shortcuts in any given question
before working on each problem, use common sense to verify your answer choice
get caught in the specific details of the passage
general questions before detail questions
refer to the passage before choosing an answer
outline all major points covered in non-fiction passages, take notes if
necessary to find answers quickly
Concentrate on paragraph opening and closing
fiction passages pay attention to the story and the characters
the easy questions for each passage first. Skip the tough ones and come back
to them later
scanning the passage. Read the passage or look at the data presentation
quickly, just to get a rough idea of what it is all about
to comprehend graphs and tables quickly concentrate on nature of data being
presented, units of measurement, relationship among variables and perceive
trends and pattern in the data
answers are numerical, use estimation to save time
the questions that require analyzing data from just a single table or graph
get bogged down by technical terminology, avoid the frills and get to the core
of the problem
If you intend to take the ACT Assessment, take it for the first
time during the spring semester of your junior year. Some students
take it earlier for additional practice. You may want to re-take it one or more
times in your senior year. Take the ACT as many times as you wish; however, two
to three times seems about right. Beyond that, it becomes expensive and you will
probably not see any substantial changes in your scores. For a complete listing
of all ACT test dates click on the Personal Profile icon in the toolbar to go to
your Test Profile section.
The ACT registration fee for 2002-03 is
$18.00 and $22.00
in the states of New York and Florida. Fee waivers are available for students unable to afford
the cost of this test.
- For more ACT information:
Registration information--call 319-337-1270
(or write ACT Registration;
PO Box 414; Iowa City, IA. 52243-0414)
319-337-1510 (or write ACT Test Administration:
PO Box 168; Iowa City, IA 52243-0168)
Score Reports--call 319-337-1313
(or write ACT Records: PO Box
451; Iowa City, IA 52234-0451)
You might want to take both the ACT and SAT I: Reasoning
Test. Since the tests are somewhat different in purpose, content
and structure, you may find that you score better on one than
the other. Many students find that they perform differently on
the two tests. Review the descriptive information provided in
the sample booklets that you receive with your testing applications
to determine which test might be best for you. Be sure to
consult with your guidance counselor or Career Center Specialist
to see if they can help you make a decision. If your grades
are not strong enough to give you a good chance of admission at
the college of your choice, test scores might make a difference.
Therefore, it may be to your advantage to try both tests to maximize
your admission chances.
Most colleges accept scores from either test. However, some schools
prefer one over the other and may not accept one or the other.
Generally, the SAT I: Reasoning Test is more widely used. Use the College Research service in this
program to find specific information about which of these tests is accepted at your college choices.
Act Test Dates and
October 23, 2011
Sept. 17, 2011
Oct. 1, 2011
December 11, 2011 Nov. 5, 2011
Nov. 19, 2011
February 12, 2011
Jan. 7, 2011 Jan.
ACT Tests are administered at
high schools and test centers nationwide. Check with your high school or
guidance counselor or contact ACT, Inc. for more information