The ACT is a standardized examination used for college admissions, and the test results are accepted by all four-year undergraduate institutions in the United States. The ACT is a four-subject, multiple-choice exam that can be taken with or without an optional writing section (the former is officially referred to as the ACT Plus Writing, while the latter is known as the ACT (No Writing) or simply the ACT.
The four subjects tested by the ACT are English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science, in that order. Each of the sections of the ACT is referred to as a “test,” and therefore, a full ACT exam contains an English Test, a Mathematics Test, a Reading Test, and a Science Test (if you were taking the ACT Plus Writing, then you would also have a Writing Test).
The exam has 215 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately three-and-a-half hours (including breaks) to complete. Students taking the ACT Plus Writing will test for an additional half hour. The writing test is an essay, and does not have a multiple-choice element. The entire testing day, including administrative protocols, typically takes between four-and-a-half and five hours.
You will be given a score from 1 to 36 for each of the English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science Tests; these four scores are then averaged into a Composite (overall) score, also from 1 to 36. Students taking the ACT Plus Writing will also receive a Writing test subscore from 2 to 12, as well as a Combined English/Writing score reported on a 1 to 36 range. Although students taking the ACT Plus Writing will receive a Combined English/Writing score, taking the Writing Test does not affect your English Test score or your Composite score. You can see the Combined English/Writing score conversion scale here.
The ACT is administered six times a year in the U.S., U.S. territories, Puerto Rico, and Canada: September, October, December, February, April, and June. Outside of these areas, the test is given five times a year: October, December, February, April, and June.
You can view the fees associated with registering for the ACT and sending your ACT scores to colleges here. Note, students taking the ACT Plus Writing will pay a higher registration fee than students taking the ACT (No Writing). If you are interested in requesting a waiver of your ACT registration fees, click here to view the procedure required for the waiver request.