ACT: American College Testing: English, Reading, Math, Science, and an optional essay

ACT Interpreting Score Report

ACT Scores and Percentiles

ACT Test Dates including registration deadlines

When: The ACT is offered in September, October, December, February, April and June

Where: There are many testing sites around the country. From Florence, the farthest you will probably have to travel is Coos Bay.

Creator of the ACT: The American College Testing Company

Length: 2 hours 55 minutes, plus the optional essay for an additional 40 minutes.

Organization: The ACT is divided into the following sections:

English (45 minutes): You will be given a series of short paragraphs for which you will need to answer questions that relate to grammar and vocabulary usage. There are 75 questions in this section.

Math (60 minutes): Calculators are allowed. There are 60 questions in this section based primarily on algebra and geometry. There are occasional questions related to algebra 2, such as trig ratios, matrices, sets, and logarithms.

Reading (35 minutes): There are 4 reading passages, and you will be asked questions about each one. There are 40 questions.

Science (35 minutes): You will be given 6 sets of scientific information and data, and asked to answer questions about each set. There are 40 questions. This section is unique to the ACT; there is nothing similar on the SAT.

Essay (40 minutes, optional): You will be asked to read a passage and then write an essay about it. Some colleges will ask to see your essay score, while others will not.

Test-Taking Techniques

a) Do not leave any questions unanswered. If you don't know an answer, there is no penalty for guessing. If you are approaching the time limit for a section, fill in any remaining questions on your answer sheet with a random letter (all are statistically equally likely to be correct). If possible, try to eliminate one or two of the possible answers before guessing. That will give you a better chance of guessing correctly.

b) All questions count equally toward your total score, so don't spend too much time on any one question. If you can't figure out the answer right away, move on. You can always revisit the question later.

c) In the math sections, the easiest questions will the first ones and the hardest questions will be the last ones. Therefore, you should try to work quickly (and of course carefully) through the first part of each math section so you will have time to tackle the harder problems.

d) If you don't know how to figure out the answer to the first question you come to in a section, look for a question that you know you can answer. This will help you to gain confidence and relax.

e) Regularly compare the problem number on your answer sheet to the problem number you are answering in the test booklet. It is far too easy to get "off track" and discover (perhaps too late) that you are marking answers that don't match up with question numbers in the booklet. This is most likely to happen if you skip a question.

Test Preparation: It is widely known and proven that studying for the ACT pays off in better scores. Moreover, so many students now prepare for the ACT that you are really at a disadvantage if you don't. You may choose to study independently or with friends, but it will most likely be to your advantage to take a course if one is available. You can learn quite a lot from someone who can teach you test-taking techniques and help you to review the concepts you will need to know. Taking practice tests is an excellent way to prepare. Here's why:

a) Taking practice tests helps you to become familiar with the format, structure, and problem types on the actual test.

b) You will become familiar with the time constraints, so you will be better prepared to use your time wisely on the actual test.

c) Working problems of the type you will encounter provides you with excellent review of grammar, vocabulary, math, etc.

d) ACT problems are often written in a way that allows you to learn and apply various "tricks" and techniques to solve them quickly and/or efficiently. Since time is always a factor, learning how questions are written will help you to optimize the time available.

Practice Materials: There are many ACT prep materials available online and in bookstores. You will find books that offer practice tests published by a variety of companies (Kaplan, Princeton Review, Barrons, McGraw Hill, The College Board, and others). There are also flash cards, specialty books (math review, grammar review, etc.) and other materials. If you plan to purchase a book, a good first review guide is the Official ACT Prep Guide. It is published by the organization that creates and administers the ACT.

There are also online tests. One place to find them is at the

Some suggestions:

a) Begin preparing (studying) well in advance (weeks or months) of the test. Studying regularly for short periods of time will be much better than waiting until the last minute and then having a marathon study session.

b) The ACT is not a test for which you can cram at the last minute. So, don't stay up late studying on the night before the test. Get a good night's sleep.

c) On test day, eat a good breakfast and allow plenty of time to get to the testing center.

d) Take your admission ticket, photo ID, sharpened number 2 pencils (2 or more, with erasers), a calculator, and extra batteries for the calculator. Your calculator may be a graphing or scientific type; for details, click here. YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TOO USE YOUR CELL PHONE, so don't expect to use it as a calculator. Laptop computers and tablets are also not allowed.

e) While your ACT score will be an important part of your college application material, don't give it more weight than it deserves. It is just one part of the process, and you may retake it if you are not pleased with your scores. So, prepare but don't get overly stressed.

How to Register: You may register by mail or online. Either way, go to this site to get started.