ACT Test Centers

The ACT, which stands for American College Testing, is a standardized test used for college admissions in the United States. It assesses high school students’ general educational development and their ability to complete college-level work. The ACT consists of four main sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science, along with an optional Writing section. Scores from the ACT are commonly used by colleges and universities as part of their admissions process, alongside other factors such as high school GPA, letters of recommendation, and extracurricular activities.

ACT Test Structure

The ACT test consists of four mandatory sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science, each with a set number of questions and a specific time limit. Additionally, there is an optional Writing section. Here’s a breakdown of the structure:

  1. English:
    • Number of questions: 75 multiple-choice questions
    • Time limit: 45 minutes
    • Tests grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and rhetorical skills
  2. Mathematics:
    • Number of questions: 60 multiple-choice questions
    • Time limit: 60 minutes
    • Tests mathematical skills typically acquired in high school, including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry
  3. Reading:
    • Number of questions: 40 multiple-choice questions
    • Time limit: 35 minutes
    • Tests reading comprehension skills through passages from various subjects, including prose fiction, humanities, social studies, and natural sciences
  4. Science:
    • Number of questions: 40 multiple-choice questions
    • Time limit: 35 minutes
    • Tests interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills in the context of scientific information
  5. Optional Writing (Essay):
    • Number of questions: 1 essay prompt
    • Time limit: 40 minutes
    • Requires students to analyze a given perspective, develop their own perspective, and provide reasoning and examples to support their viewpoints

Average ACT Scores

These are approximate ranges and can vary slightly from year to year. Additionally, these scores represent the middle 50% range of admitted students, meaning that 25% of admitted students scored below these ranges and 25% scored above.

Rank College Average ACT Score
1 Harvard University 33-35
2 Stanford University 32-35
3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 34-36
4 California Institute of Technology (Caltech) 34-36
5 Columbia University 33-35
6 Yale University 33-35
7 University of Chicago 32-35
8 Princeton University 33-35
9 University of Pennsylvania 33-35
10 Northwestern University 33-35
11 Duke University 33-35
12 Johns Hopkins University 33-35
13 Dartmouth College 32-35
14 Brown University 32-35
15 Cornell University 32-35
16 Washington University in St. Louis 32-35
17 Vanderbilt University 33-35
18 Rice University 33-35
19 University of Notre Dame 33-35
20 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 29-34

How to prepare for ACT

Take a practice test or diagnostic exam to identify your strengths and weaknesses in each section. This will help you tailor your study plan to focus on areas where you need the most improvement.

Preparation Strategies

1. Develop a Study Schedule:

Create a study schedule that allows you to dedicate consistent time to ACT preparation. Set aside specific blocks of time each day or week to review content, practice questions, and take full-length practice tests. Consistency is key to effective preparation.

2. Utilize Official Study Materials:

Utilize official ACT study materials provided by the ACT organization. These resources include the Official ACT Prep Guide, ACT Online Prep, and practice tests available on the ACT website. Official materials closely resemble the actual exam, providing valuable practice and familiarity with the test format.

3. Review Content Areas:

Review content areas covered in each section of the ACT, focusing on topics where you need improvement. Use textbooks, online resources, or review courses to reinforce your understanding of key concepts in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. Pay special attention to areas that are heavily tested on the exam.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice:

Practice is essential for success on the ACT. Complete practice questions and full-length practice tests to build familiarity with the types of questions you’ll encounter and improve your test-taking skills. Analyze your mistakes and learn from them to avoid similar errors on the actual exam.

5. Work on Time Management:

Time management is critical on the ACT, as each section has a strict time limit. Practice pacing yourself during practice tests to ensure you can complete each section within the allotted time. Learn to prioritize questions and move on if you get stuck to maximize your score potential.

Test Day Strategies

1. Get Adequate Rest:

Ensure you get enough sleep the night before the exam to feel well-rested and alert on test day. Avoid staying up late studying, as fatigue can impair your performance.

2. Eat a Balanced Meal:

Eat a nutritious breakfast on the morning of the exam to fuel your brain and sustain your energy throughout the test. Avoid heavy or sugary foods that may cause energy crashes.

3. Stay Calm and Confident:

Maintain a positive mindset on test day and stay confident in your preparation. Remember that the ACT is just one aspect of your college application, and you’ve already put in the effort to prepare. Stay calm, focused, and do your best.