The Basics of the ACT Test
Like the SAT, the ACT test is accepted at all colleges across the country and is an important component in your college admissions process. However, the ACT is considered to be more straightforward and content-based than the SAT. The ACT test has four multiple-choice sections: English, Math, Reading, Science, and an optional essay section – Writing. These sections first test your critical thinking and basic skill level and, second, test your knowledge of basic concepts.
|Test Number||Questions||Skills / Content||Time||Time per Question/Passage|
75 multiple-choice questions with four answer choices
|grammar & usage, sentence structure, punctuation, strategy, organization, and style||45 minutes||8 minutes 30 seconds per passage|
|Math||60 multiple-choice questions with five answer choices||pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, and trigonometry||60 minutes||1 minute per question|
|Reading||40 multiple-choice questions with four answer choices||reading comprehension of what is directly stated or implied||35 minutes||8 minutes 45 seconds per passage|
|Science||40 multiple-choice questions with four answer choices||interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem solving||35 minutes||52 seconds per question|
|Essay (optional)||1 prompt||writing skills||40 minutes||40 minutes|
|Total||215 questions (w/o prompt)||2 hours and 55 minutes for the ACT without Writing and3 hours and 35 minutes for the ACT with Writing|
- Always Eliminate! When approaching any ACT question, remember to eliminate all wrong answers first. If you look for the first right answer, you’ll probably fall for a trap answer. The general rule of thumb is, “Look for what’s wrong, not what’s right!” Simply following this one strategy will dramatically increase your performance.
- Guessing on the ACT Answer every question. Your scores on the multiple-choice tests are based on the number of questions you answer correctly. There is no penalty for guessing. Having said that, there are still some key strategies to consider in making “smart guesses” versus not-so-smart guesses. To make sure the odds are in your favor, always eliminate as many answers as possible before guessing. Smart elimination greatly increases your chances of getting the right answer. But here’s the greatest pitfall to avoid when guessing. When you decide to guess, don’t try to pick an answer that “looks right.” That’s a great way to fall for a “trap answer.” If you can’t gain more than 50% certainty about the correctness of an answer choice, go with the random selection “A,” or whichever letter you like. Just make sure it’s genuinely random. Make it a rule to answer “A” on every guess, or “B” if “A” has been eliminated.