The College ACT Exams
Becoming familiar with the college ACT exams will reap huge benefits for you as you navigate the college admissions process. The
ACT is probably the most widely used College Entrance Exam. Read the article below for
some useful information about the exam, its format, and its content.
What You Should Know About the ACT
There comes a time in every college bound person's life when they ask the questions "What is the ACT and how
does it impact my future"?
A national college admission examination, the ACT consists of subject area tests in English, mathematics,
reading, and science plus an optional writing exam.
Originally, "ACT" stood for American College Testing. However, in 1996 the official name of the organization was shortened to simply "ACT" to
better reflect the broad array of programs and services offered beyond college entrance testing.
There are three good reasons to take the ACT:
1. The ACT tests are universally accepted for college admission.
2. The ACT is not an aptitude or an IQ test. Instead, the questions on the ACT are directly related to high
school courses in English, mathematics, and science.
3. In addition to the tests, the ACT also provides test takers with a unique interest inventory that provides
valuable information for career and educational planning and a student profile section that provides a comprehensive profile of high school work
and future plans.
In the U.S., the ACT is administered on five national test dates in October, December, February, April, and
June. In selected states, the ACT is also offered in late September.
The ACT tests are prepared according to the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing, American
Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education (1985); Code of
Professional Responsibilities in Educational Measurement, National Council on Measurement in Education (1995); and Code of Fair Testing Practices
in Education, Joint Committee on Testing Practices (1988).
People of all ages and grade levels are eligible to take the ACT. This includes junior high or middle school
students and those who have already graduated from high school.
The test includes 215 multiple-choice questions in four subject areas: English-75 questions; Math-60 questions;
Reading-40 questions; and Science-40 questions. Plus one writing prompt in the optional writing portion.
There are no limitations on how many times you can take the ACT, although there are restrictions on how
frequently you can do so. For example, you can test only once per national or state test date, or if you test through non-national testing such
as special testing, you must wait a minimum of 60 days between retests. Many students take the test twice, once as a junior and again as a
You should definitely consider retesting if you had any problems during the test, such as misunderstanding the
directions or not feeling well. You may also want to consider retesting if you aren't satisfied that your scores accurately represent your
Retesting may be a good idea if you see a discrepancy between your ACT scores and your high school grades, or
if you have completed coursework or an intensive review in the subject areas included in the ACT since you were tested. Research shows that of
the students who took the ACT more than once 55% increased their Composite score on the retest. If you take the test more than once, you control
which scores are sent to colleges or scholarship programs.
The ACT is an important part of your pre-college admission process. You should learn as much as possible about
the exam and prepare yourself well as it can have a tremendous impact on your future college and college program admission. You can learn more
about the ACT from the ACT corporation, college admission offices, and high school guidance departments.