About the Test

The ACT is made up of 5 sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and an Optional Writing Section. All questions on the ACT are multiple-choice, offering four possible answer choices. There is no penalty for guessing, so test takers are advised to answer every question in the given time.



The English Section

There is a total of 75 questions. 40 of them will test your usage and mechanics skills, which include grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, while 35 of them will test your rhetorical skills, that is, style, strategy, and organization.


The Math Section

The Mathematics section tests your ability to solve problems based on the areas and level of mathematics that you would normally study in high school through the end of eleventh grade. You are generally asked questions relating to pre-algebra, algebra, and geometry, while a relatively small part of the Mathematics exam is devoted to trigonometry. While you are expected to know basic mathematical formulas, complex formulas will usually be provided. There are 60 questions in total.


The Reading Section

There are four passages in this section, the topics of which are chosen from a multitude of subjects including social studies, natural sciences, art, and literature. The questions require you to demonstrate an understanding of what is said directly in the text, and what is implied in the text. There are 40 questions in total.


The Science Section

In the science section, you are mainly tested on your reasoning skills, your abilities of interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and problem solving as applied to the natural sciences. Therefore, your comprehension rather than your knowledge is being tested here. You will be presented with information, and the questions will test your ability to comprehend and analyze that information. There are 40 questions in total.


The Optional Writing Section

You are expected to write one argumentative essay, which means that you will be presented with two conflicting points-of-view. You will pick one of them, and defend it in a convincing manner. You’ll be evaluated on the basis of vocabulary, grammar, sophistication of language as well as sentence structure, and on the strength of your arguments​.


Timing & Scoring

The timing on the ACT will depend on the section on which you are working. The time allotted to each section is as follows:



45 Minutes

60 minutes


35 minutes


35 minutes

Optional Writing Test 

30 minutes


The scoring on the ACT is taken as a conversion of your raw ACT score (the number of questions answered correctly) into a “scale score.” The scale score is a test score that will range from 1 – 36 for each of the four main sections, and will be determined by the number of questions answered correctly on each section. The composite score, or overall ACT score, is an average of your four test scores on each separate section. Finally, you will receive a percentile ranking on each section, and this indicates your results in comparison to other test takers.

The ACT does not combine scores from different test dates. If you send an ACT score to a college, you must select the test date and send all scores from that test.


You can register online at You must create an ACT Web Account in order to register, and your name and national ID number when registering must match the information found on your National ID or passport, because you will present your ID or passport (as well as your ACT admission ticket) when entering the test. After creating an account, look at the test centers in your area, and use the code for the test center of your choice when registering for the test.  Make sure to register for the test you plan to take before the registration deadline indicated on the website. Refer to the FAQ section on the site in order to resolve any issues you may have when registering. 


Rescheduling or Canceling

The basic registration fees paid while registering are non-refundable. If you must reschedule your test date, you may request and pay for a test date change after logging in to your ACT Web Account.

To cancel your score, call ACT at 1-319-337-1270 before 12:00 p.m. on the first Thursday after your test. This will give you a few days to consider canceling, but after this time you will not have the option to cancel your scores.


On Test day

On test day, remember to be at your testing center by 8am and to bring your admission ticket and a photo ID. Bring #2 pencils and turn your phone off. 


During the test

During the test, you're allowed to use your calculator on the Math section only. Keep it under you desk until that time. You can also bring a snack and water but you can only eat and drink outside the test room during the breaks between sections. If you bring a watch, you'll be able to keep track of time yourself, but the test proctors will give you a warning when there are 5 minutes left in each section. 

After the test

After the test, you have the option to cancel your score but you can only cancel it up until the Thursday after your test date. After that time, your test will be scored and those scores will be sent to your universities. Expect to see your scores about 3-6 weeks after you take the exam. 

Score reporting

Three separate reports will be prepared for each test-taker:

1) The Student Report. This report can be accessed online via the student’s ACT web account between three and eight weeks after taking the test. It includes your test scores as well as your college and career planning information.

2) The High School Report. This will be delivered automatically to your high school at approximately the same time as your Student Report (probably a few days later) and includes the same information (test scores, college and career planning details).

3) The College Report. This report is sent to up to six colleges and/or scholarship agencies, which you must pay for separately. You will identify these schools and organizations using the agency codes provided when you register for the test. 

Customer Support Centers

Telephone: 319.337.1270

Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., central time

ACT Student Services, 2727 Scott Blvd., minizip 46, P.O. Box 414,

Iowa City, IA 522430414


ID requirements and prohibited calculators

Telephone: 319.337.1510

Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., central time

ACT Test Administration, 301 ACT Drive, P.O. Box 168,

Iowa City, IA 522430168


Score Reports

Telephone: 319.337.1313

Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., central time

ACT Student Services, 2727 Scott Blvd., minizip 46, P.O. Box 451,

Iowa City, IA 522430451