ACT: Answering a Few Common Questions

Thanks largely to word on the street, most students have a clear understanding of the format of the SAT. But that other college-entrance exam, the ACT, seems to be a much more mysterious creature. Below are some common questions students have about the ACT and their answers.
  • Who administers the ACT? The ACT is administered by the American College Testing Program. Check the ACT World Wide Web site at www.act.org.

  • What is the structure of the ACT Assessment? The ACT Assessment consists of four tests. The English Test contains 75 questions and lasts 45 minutes. The Mathematics Test contains 60 questions and lasts 60 minutes. The Reading Test contains 40 questions and lasts 35 minutes. The Science Reasoning Test contains 40 questions and lasts 35 minutes. All four tests consist exclusively of multiple-choice questions.

  • How is the ACT Assessment scored? Each of the tests is scored from 1 to 36, with a mean score of 18. The subscores within sections are scored from 1 to 18, with a mean score of 9. The composite score is from 1 to 36.

  • May I take the ACT Assessment more than once? Yes, you may, but you should try to take it only once and do your best. If you do need to take the test a second time, check the registration/information bulletin for re-registration procedures.

  • How often is the test given? The test is given five or six times a year, depending on your location. The test is usually given in October, December, February, April, and June. At some locations it is also given in September. Regular administrations are on Saturday morning.

  • How and when should I register? The registration period opens about ten weeks before the test date and closes about four weeks before the test date. To register within this period, obtain an ACT registration/information booklet from your high school counselor and follow the registration instructions it includes.

  • What materials should I bring to the ACT? You should bring:

    • your test center admission ticket

    • acceptable identification (your admission ticket is not identification)

    • three or four sharpened number 2 pencils

    • a good eraser

    • a watch (alarms must be turned off on watches)

    • a calculator (to assist you on the Mathematics Test)

  • No books, notes, highlighters, or scratch paper are permitted. Room for your figuring will be provided in the test booklet itself. Phones, pagers, food or drink, or other reading materials are also NOT permitted.

  • May I cancel my score? Yes, but only by notifying your test supervisor before you leave the examination, or you may cancel your test scores by calling 319-337-1270 no later than 12 noon, central time, on the Thursday immediately following your test date. Note that if you cancel your score, it cannot be reinstated, you will not receive a refund of the test fees, and you must wait 31 days before taking the test again. The score cancelation also becomes a part of your permanent record and is reported on all future score reports for both you and colleges to see.

  • Should I guess on the test? There's no penalty for guessing, so it's to your advantage to answer every question, even if you have to guess.