The ACT (American College Testing) college readiness assessment. A standardized test for high school achievement and college admissions in the United States produced by ACT Inc. The ACT is an entrance exam used by most colleges and universities to make admissions decisions. The idea (in theory, at least) is to provide colleges with one common criterion that can be used to compare all applicants. The weight placed on ACT scores varies from school to school. Other important factors that schools consider in their admissions decisions are your high school GPA, academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, interviews and personal essays. For more specific information on the importance of ACT scores at the schools you’re interested in, contact the admissions offices directly.
What specifically does the ACT test?
The ACT has four sections: English, Reading, Math and Science, as well as an optional 40-minute writing test. Some schools may require the writing test, so be sure to ask before you take it.
The ACT is composed of four multiple-choice sections-English, Math, Reading, and Science-and one optional essay section-Writing. Total testing time is 2 hours and 55 minutes for the ACT without Writing and 3 hours and 35 minutes for the ACT with Writing.
How is the ACT scored?
You’ll earn one ACT score (1 to 36) on each test (English, Math, Reading and Science) and a composite ACT score, which is an average of these four tests. Usually, when people ask about your score, they’re referring to your composite ACT score. The composite score falls between 1 and 36. The national average is about 21. If, for example, you scored 31 on the English, 30 on the Math, 29 on the Reading and 30 on the Science, your composite ACT score would be 30.
You’ll receive subscores in English, Math and Reading that range between 1 and 18. These scores provide you with more detail about your performance, but they are not actually used by colleges or universities. Learn more about ACT scores.
The ACT includes an optional essay, known as the writing test. If you take the writing test, you will receive a writing test subscore and a combined English/writing score. Visit www.ACT.org for detailed information about how your ACT writing test will be scored.