About ACT

The ACT originally an abbreviation of American College Testing is standardized test that admission officers use to compare applicants from different schools and different states. The ACT comprises four subject area tests – English, Math, Reading, and Science. The ACT with writing includes an additional 40-minute Writing test and ACT scores are accepted by all the colleges in the US for undergraduate admissions.

Quick Facts

  • Frequency: 4-6 times depending on the state and country
  • Subject Area Test: English, Math, Reading, Science. ACT Plus Writing includes an optional Essay.
  • Duration: 2 hours 55 minutes; 3 hours 35 minutes including essay
  • ACT fees (in India): $79.50 inclusive of $40 International Fee
  • ACT Plus writing fees (in India): $96.50 inclusive of $40 International Fee
  • Max Score: 36
  • Average Score: 21

Composite score is the average of the four subject area test scores while the Essay scores are reported separately.

TestNumber of questionsTime limit
English75 multiple-choice questions45 minutes
Math60 multiple-choice questions60 minutes
Reading40 multiple-choice questions35 minutes
Science40 multiple-choice questions35 minutes
Writing (optional)1 essay40 minutes
Test duration and sections

The duration of the ACT is 2 hours 55 minutes without the essay, and 3 hours 35 minutes with the essay. A short break is provided after the second test. The second break is after the fourth test and, of course, applicable only if you are taking the optional Writing test.

Answer choices and scoring pattern

The ACT provides four answer choices to questions in the English, Reading, and Science tests, but five answer choices to questions in the Math test. The ACT has a unique feature in that the odd-numbered questions have answer choices labeled A through D or E, whereas the even-numbered questions have answer choices labeled F through J or K with the exclusion of I.

Each correct answer on the ACT gets you a raw point, and there is no penalty for wrong answers. A scaled score ranging from 1-36 is computed for each test on the basis of the raw score secured in that test. Scores from the four multiple choice tests – English, Math, Reading, and Science- are then averaged to generate a composite score on a scale of 1–36.

The Writing test score awarded on a scale of 1–36 doesn’t affect the composite score. Every Essay is also awarded four writing domain scores (Ideas and Analysis, Development and Support, Organization, and Language Use and Conventions) — each scored on a scale of 2-12. The Writing domain scores that range from 2 to 12 are the sums of the scores awarded by two readers on a scale of 1–6 for each domain. The essay score is also combined with the English score to produce a separate English Language Arts (ELA) score on a scale of 1–36.