The ACT® Test
The ACT is taken by high school students and college-bound individuals. The score results are used by colleges for admission, course placement and advising purposes, and by states, districts, schools, teachers, and students for diagnostic, monitoring, and intervention purposes.
- The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement exam that measures skills and knowledge taught in school and deemed important for success in college.
The ACT is the capstone of ACT’s College and Career Readiness System, which includes the EXPLORE® assessment taken in eighth or ninth grade and the PLAN assessment taken in tenth grade. The ACT comprises subject area tests in:
- English (75 questions, 45 minutes)
- Mathematics (60 questions, 60 minutes)
- Reading (40 questions, 35 minutes)
- Science (40 questions, 35 minutes)
- plus an optional Writing Test (30 minutes)
Volume/Number of Users
Number and percentage of U.S. high school graduates who took the ACT:
Growth in usage over the above five-year period: 17.2%
- The ACT is taken in all 50 states and has been since 1960.
- Each of the four required ACT subject area tests is multiple choice in format.
- Each of the four required ACT subject area tests is scored on a scale of 1–36.
- The ACT composite score, also scored on a scale of 1–36, is the average of the student’s four subject test scores.
- Fewer than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score of 36.
- All four-year colleges and universities across the United States accept ACT scores.
- The total testing time is 2 hours, 55 minutes for the ACT, and 3 hours, 25 minutes for the ACT Plus Writing.
- The optional Writing Test consists of one writing prompt that describes an issue and asks students to write an essay response about their position on the issue. It is scored on a scale of 1 to 12.
- For 2012-2013, the basic registration fee for the traditional ACT exam is $35; the basic registration fee for the ACT Plus Writing is $50.50
- Test takers complete an interest inventory that provides information for career and educational planning and a student profile section that asks about a student’s work in high school and his or her future plans.
- The ACT is taken by the majority of high school graduates in 28 states.
- The ACT is administered to all public school eleventh grade students as part of required statewide assessment programs in 12 U.S. states: Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming.
- Of the more than 1.66 million 2012 high school graduates who took the ACT, only 25% met the College Readiness Benchmark scores in all four subject areas. The benchmarks are scores on the ACT subject-area tests that represent the level of achievement required for students to have a 50% chance of obtaining a B or higher, or about a 75% chance of obtaining a C or higher, in corresponding credit-bearing, first-year college courses.