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Suniti's Advice Corner

Guide to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the ACT

Posted by Suniti Mathur on Wed, Mar 29, 2017

What is the ACT?
The ACT is a college admissions standardized test, similar to the SAT. It helps college admissions committees assess your academic ability and potential and your college readiness.

Why should I take the ACT?Frequently Asked ACT Questions FAQ

  1. Most colleges require either the ACT or SAT as part of your application. Students attending public high schools in Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming require Juniors to take the ACT for their statewide assessments.

  2. Finally, you might be eligible for certain scholarships based on your ACT score. Learn more here

Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

From the point of view of colleges, it doesn’t matter. All US colleges will accept either the ACT or the SAT. Ultimately it comes down to your personal preference.

Visual thinkers who like charts, tables, and graphs might prefer the SAT. Those who love to read and work well under time pressure might prefer the ACT. You can also take both to keep your options open when it comes to sending your scores to colleges.

Want to find out which is the best test for you? Click here to find out with just a few questions.

What is the ACT scored out of?

ACT scores range between 1 and 36. For each of the four required sections, you get a raw score, which is the number of questions you get right. Your final score, known as the composite score, is the average of your four raw scores.

TABLE: What is on the ACT? How long is the test?

The test covers English, math, reading, science, and an optional writing section. The total duration of the test is close to 3 hours, plus 40 minutes for the optional writing section.

Section # of Questions & Length Topics Included

75 Questions

45 Minutes

Punctuation, grammar, usage, sentence structure, strategy, organization, style
60 Questions

60 Minutes

 Pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, trigonometry.
40 Questions

35 Minutes

 Reading passages on social studies, natural sciences, literary fiction, and the humanities

40 Questions

35 Minutes

Data representations, research summaries.
Writing (optional)

1 Prompt

40 Minutes

Text reading, analysis, and writing skills. Students produce a written analysis of a provided text.

When should I take the ACT

It is recommended that you first take the test during the 2nd semester of your junior year (11th grade). This way you will have learned all the material covered in school, but will have plenty of time to retake the test. You want to be done with all your testing by October or November of your senior year.

Do I need to prepare for the ACT? When should I start preparing for the ACT?

You should absolutely prepare for the ACT. Preparing will help you improve your score, which will increase your chances of getting into more schools. It is a good idea to start preparing after your sophomore year (10th grade). The summer between your Sophomore and Junior years is a great time to start preparing because it gives you ample time. ACT prep is not something you want to leave to the last minute.

Start a Free Trial for TestRocker's one of a kind ACT test prep!

How many times can I take the ACT?

You can take the ACT up to 12 times. The test is offered 6 times during the year. At TestRocker, we recommend that you take it a maximum of 2-3 times. We have not seen much of a score improvement beyond the 2nd or 3rd attempt, so it’s best to spend your time on other parts of your college application.

How do I sign up for the ACT?

You register online on the ACT’s website. Make sure you check the registration deadline in advance. Also be sure to check the testing center nearest to you, as it may not be administered at your school.

Can I use a calculator for the math sections?

Yes, you are allowed to bring a calculator, but it must be the right kind of calculator. Bringing a TI-89 is the most common reason students are dismissed from the ACT. Check out this free lesson on ACT calculator tips.

TABLE: How much does it cost to take the ACT? 

Although the price can vary slightly each year, the registration fee for the 2016-2017 school year is as follows:

Service Fee (USD) Additional Information
Registration (without writing section) $42.50 Includes reports for you, your high school, and up to 4 colleges
Registration (with writing section) $57 (with Essay)
$45 (without Essay)
Includes reports for you, your high school, and up to 4 colleges
Telephone registration $15 Only available if you’ve previously registered for a test
Late registration (US and Canada only) $27.50 Registering after regular deadline
Standby testing $51 Placed on waitlist for particular test center/date. Refunded if you are denied admission on test day.
Test center change $25 Keep your location, change the test date. If it’s after the registration deadline, you’ll also be charged the late registration fee.
International testing $51 Testing outside of US, Canada, or US territories.
Score reports for additional colleges $12 each Request online before test date.

Are there accommodations for students with disabilities during the ACT?

Yes. You can request accommodations online on the ACT website by filling out proper documentation.

Getting ready to take the ACT? Start TestRocker's Free Trial for sample questions and videos. 

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Tags: For Students, For Parents, For Counselors, act, International Students, questions, faq, actprep, frequently asked questions, act test, act exam

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TestRocker is an award-winning PSAT/SAT/ACT program that empowers students to take control of their test preparation. After taking a diagnostic test, students receive a customized study plan, individualized to their strengths/weaknesses. Students practice and learn concepts through videos. Each of the 2000+ questions on TestRocker is accompanied by a video explanation from Suniti. TestRocker has the largest video library in the world for PSAT/SAT/ACT preparation. 

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