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The ACT is an admissions test typically taken by high school students, and required for entry to most US undergraduate programs.

It is available both as a computer-based test and a paper-and-pen test, comprising of four compulsory sections, and an optional Writing section. For students based outside the US, it is available only as a computer-based test.

Each of the four sections assess the following abilities:

Section I: English

Understanding of English; production of writing; knowledge of language skills
Section II: Math

Mathematical skills typically acquired up to age 17.
Section III: Reading

Reading comprehension commonly encountered in first-year college curricula
Section IV: Science

Interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required in Biology, Chemistry, Earth/space sciences, and Physics
Section V: Writing

Writing skills taught in high school English classes and in entry-level college composition courses
English75 multiple choice45 minutes1 - 36
Math60 multiple choice60 minutes1 - 36
Reading40 multiple choice35 minutes1 - 36
Science40 multiple choice35 minutes1 - 36
Writing (optional)1 essay prompt40 minutes2 - 12 points

Not included in total score
Total3 hours 25 minutes (without optional Writing section)

4 hours 5 minutes (with optional Writing section)

Including breaks
1 - 36


Which schools require the ACT?

Most US undergraduate programs require the ACT, including but not limited to the following universities:
Boston University
Brown University
Cornell University
Columbia University
Harvard University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
New York University (NYU)
Princeton University
Purdue University
Stanford University
University of California, Berkeley
University of Chicago
University of Southern California (USC)
Yale University

What is a good ACT score?

Generally speaking, for students applying to the most selective universities, a competitive score is above 33.

How long is my ACT score valid for?

ACT scores are valid for up to 5 years.

How often can I sit for the ACT?

You may sit for the ACT any number of times.

When is the ACT held?

Internationally, the ACT is held in September, October, December, February, April, and June.

When will my results be available?

ACT scores for the multiple-choice sections are usually available within two business days of the test sitting for students taking the computer-based test. Writing scores are typically available two to three weeks after the release of multiple-choice scores.

Should I sit for the ACT or the SAT?

Both exams are widely recognised by US universities. One key difference between the SAT and the ACT is the inclusion of a Science section in the ACT, accounting for 25% of the final score.

If you are unsure as to which test to take, we invite you to try our free SAT and ACT diagnostic tests for an idea of your expected performance on each test. 


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