Introduction to the ACT

With the SAT changing format, a lot of students and parents have questions about how the new test will compare to the old format and to the ACT. Because of this, many families are opting to take the ACT as an established test rather than venture into the unknown of the new SAT. For those students and parents new to the ACT, here is an introduction!

Format
The ACT has four sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science. The four sections are intended to give students the chance to display a fuller range of their knowledge than just the Math and English of the SAT. The ACT also includes an optional essay. The ACT takes three hours, or three and a half hours with the essay. With a total of 215 questions, the ACT is a notoriously fast test, so learning how to manage time is integral to success.

 

TEST

 

NUMBER OF QUESTIONS

 

TIME

 

DESCRIPTION

 

English

 

75

 

45 minutes

Multiple-choice grammar and usage questions.

 

Math

 

60

 

60 minutes

Multiple-choice math questions

 

Reading

 

40

 

35 minutes

Multiple-choice reading comprehension questions

 

Science

 

40

 

35 minutes

Multiple choice data interpretation questions
Writing 1 essay 40 minutes Optional. One 1-4 page essay

 

TOTAL

 

215

 

2 hours 55 minutes

 

with essay

 

215 + essay

 

3 hours 35 minutes

The English section is comprised of five passages with 15 questions each addressing grammar, usage, style, and rhetoric. The Math section is 60 questions of increasing difficulty covering pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. The Reading section has four passages with 10 questions each which test comprehension, inferential ability, and understanding of rhetoric. The topics of the passages are always prose fiction, social science, humanities, and natural science, and are always presented in this order. The Science section includes six or seven passages with five to seven questions each with accompanying tables, graphs, or figures. The passages question date representation, research summary, and conflicting viewpoints.

Scoring
The ACT is scored out of 36 points. Each section of the test is also scored out of 36 points and the composite of these scores provides the overall score. Points are given for correct answers. The ACT does not take points off for wrong answers, so always guess even if you aren’t sure.

The essay is also scored out of 36, but because it is optional it is not factored into the composite score. The essay is scored based on ideas and analysis, development and support, organization, and language.

 

Section

Points Per

Questions

Questions

Per Point

 

What Does That Mean?

 

English

 

0.40

 

2.50

5 right answers give you about 2 points on your final score.

 

Math

 

0.40

 

2.50

5 right answers give you about 2 points on your final score.

 

Reading

 

0.75

 

1.33

4 right answers give you about 3 points on your final score.

 

Science

 

0.66

 

1.50

3 right answers give you about 2 points on your final score.