23 frequently asked questions on the ACT test

The American College Testing (ACT) is a standardized test commonly used by high school students in the United States as part of the college admissions process. The exam covers subjects such as English, math, reading, and science, with an optional writing section. Students may take the ACT up to 12 times, with most taking it in their junior or senior year. With its importance to college admissions, it is understandable that students and parents have a lot of questions about the ACT.

In this article, we provide answers to frequently asked questions to help students and parents navigate the ACT and prepare for success.

What is the ACT?

The ACT is a standardized test used in the United States for college admissions. It measures the knowledge and skills that students have acquired in English, math, reading, and science.

Who takes the ACT?

High school students usually take the ACT in their junior or senior year. The test is often required by colleges and universities as part of their admission process.

When is the ACT given?

The ACT test is given seven times a year. The test is given in February, April, June, July, September, October, and December. Here is the link to the 2022-2023 school year ACT test dates https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/pdfs/Test-Date-Schedule-National-2022-2023.pdf.

How is the ACT scored?

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with the composite score being the average of the four section scores (English, math, reading, and science). There is also an optional writing section that is scored separately.

How long is the ACT?

The ACT is 3 hours and 35 minutes long, including the optional writing section. Without the writing section, it is 2 hours and 55 minutes long.

How many times can you take the ACT?

You can take the ACT up to 12 times in your lifetime, but most students take it two or three times.

When should I take the ACT?

Most students take the ACT in the spring of their junior year or the fall of their senior year. However, you can take it as early as your sophomore year. We advise students to start the spring of their junior year. We aim to help students to get their goal ACT score before the beginning of their senior year. We recommend juniors take the April, June, and July ACT tests. A student achieving their goal score by the beginning of their senior year allows them to put their college applications in and allows them to apply for numerous scholarship deadlines for the following year. 

How do I register for the ACT?

You can register for the ACT online on the official ACT website. You will need to create an account, choose a test date and location, and pay the registration fee. Go to https://my.act.org/account/signin to register.

How much does it cost to take the ACT?

The registration fee for the ACT without the writing section is $60, and with the writing section, it is $80. Additional fees may apply for late registration, test date changes, and other services.

What is a good ACT score?

A good ACT score depends on the college or university you are applying to. The average ACT score is around 20, but highly selective schools may require scores of 30 or higher. Check the college or university you are applying to see what ACT score you need to be able to get in.

Can I use a calculator on the ACT?

A calculator is allowed on the math section of the ACT, but only certain models are approved. You can check the list of approved calculators on the official ACT website at https://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/ACT-calculator-policy.pdf.

What should I bring to the ACT test center?

You should bring a photo ID, your admission ticket, a calculator (check the ACT website for approved models), and several No. 2 pencils. An ACT prep watch, snacks, and water are also recommended. You can purchase an ACT prep watch at https://focusonlearningcenter.com/online-act-products-for-students/.

What is the difference between the ACT and SAT?

The ACT and SAT are both standardized tests used for college admissions in the United States, but they have different formats and focus on different skills. The SAT has a stronger emphasis on math and vocabulary, while the ACT has a science section and is more focused on testing what students have learned in high school.

Can I take the ACT online?

The ACT is now offered in an online format in addition to the traditional paper-and-pencil format. However, not all testing centers may offer the online version, and there may be differences in the test format and timing.

Is the ACT optional for college admissions?

The ACT may be optional for some colleges and universities, but many still require it as part of the admission process. It is important to check the requirements of the schools you are interested in applying to.

What is super scoring on the ACT?

Superscoring on the ACT is a process where colleges consider the highest section scores from multiple test dates to create a new, higher composite score. For example, if a student scores a 25 in the English section on one test date and a 28 in the same section on a different test date, a college that superscores would consider the higher score of 28 when evaluating the student’s application. Superscoring is optional, and not all colleges and universities use it, so students should check each school’s admissions requirements to determine whether superscoring is an option.

Can I change my test date or location after I register?

You can change your test date or location for a fee on the official ACT website before the deadline. Late changes or cancellations may also incur additional fees.

What is the optional writing section of the ACT?

The ACT writing section is optional but may be required by some colleges and universities. It consists of a prompt asking you to analyze a complex issue and develop an argumentative essay. It is scored separately from the other sections of the test.

How do colleges use ACT scores in the admissions process?

Colleges use ACT scores to evaluate applicants’ academic preparedness and potential for success in college. In addition to the ACT score, colleges may also consider other factors such as GPA, extracurricular activities, and essays.

How can I prepare for the ACT?

You can prepare for the ACT by taking practice tests, reviewing test-taking strategies, and studying the content areas that will be covered on the test. We offer classes, tutoring, and online resources. Learn more at https://focusonlearningcenter.com/student-act-prep/

How long does it take to receive ACT scores?

It typically takes around 2-8 weeks to receive your ACT scores, depending on when you took the test and whether you took the writing section. Normally students get scores back around 10 business days.

What if I need accommodations for the ACT?

If you have a disability or other special needs, you may be eligible for accommodations such as extended time or a reader. You will need to submit a request and provide documentation of your needs to the ACT organization. The steps to receive accommodations for the ACT can be found at https://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act-educator/the-act-test/accommodations.html.

How do I send my ACT scores to colleges?

You can send your ACT scores to colleges when you register for the test or request score reports to be sent after taking the test. You may need to pay additional fees for score reports or rush delivery. Here is the link to request your score be sent to schools https://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act/scores/sending-your-scores.html

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