ACTwhat is the act

What Is The ACT?

The ACT is one of the two most commonly referenced placement exams for college admissions, with the other being the SAT. ACT scores serve as a common data point for college admissions to measure a high school student’s readiness for college in comparison to other applicants. A student’s ACT score is only one-factor colleges take into account when deciding who to admit and the influence of the score on their decision varies from school to school.  But, in general, the higher the score on college placement exams, the more options the student will have for attending and paying for college.

What Is The Format Of The ACT?

what is the act

The ACT is a multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper test comprised of four required sections: English, Reading, Math, and Science. The total time allotted to complete the exam is 2 hours and 55 minutes.

There is also an optional 40-minute Writing section that some colleges require. For individual school admissions requirements, visit each prospective school’s website.

How Is The ACT Scored?

what is the act

Each section of the ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36, which are then averaged to give a total ACT score of 1-36. The Writing test, if taken, is scored separately. The average score earned is 21. Anything higher than 21 is considered a good score, but schools have different opinions on what is considered good enough for their admissions.

Should I Take The ACT Or The SAT?

what is the act

Most colleges view the exams equally, but some may prefer one or the other or even require both. It is always best practice to view the admissions guidelines for each school to which the student is applying.

It is not uncommon for students to take both exams and then choose to submit the highest scored exam to their prospective colleges. Students can also complete a timed full-length practice test for both the ACT and SAT to help determine which exam to pursue, if not both. The style and content on the exams are very similar so it often comes down to how the student handles time, pressure, or the types of questions they struggle with.

When Should I Take The ACT?

what is the act

Most high school students take placement exams the spring of their junior year or the fall of the senior year. It is recommended to take the exam early enough to allow time to re-take the test if necessary, to raise scores before applying to college. The ACT exam is offered every February, April, June, July, September, October, and December.

No test centers are scheduled in California for July. Also, no test centers are scheduled in New York for February or July.

Can I Re-Take The ACT?

what is the act

Yes, you may retake the ACT as many times as you like. The scores are reported individually, allowing students to submit the score from their most successful exam day to their prospective colleges.

How Do I Register For The ACT?

what is the act

You can register online on the ACT website. Registration deadlines fall approximately five weeks before each test date. You can get registration materials from your school counselor, or call ACT, Inc. at 319–337–1270 to request a registration packet.

How Can I Prep For The ACT?

what is the act

Prepping for the ACT requires more than learning the material covered in the exam. For the greatest success, students need to learn and practice test-taking strategies in addition to in-depth studying of the content covered in each section. Students who utilize test prep services gain confidence and tend to rank higher than those who do not.


The ACT serves as a basis for colleges to compare applicants’ skills on a national level. There are time-proven methods that can help students achieve high ACT scores and increase their chances of getting into the college of their choice. Regardless of your current skill level, Gallagher Prep can help.

With Gallagher Prep’s experienced tutors and proprietary study materials, students can master the test content in as little as five to eight weeks. Our tutors can identify the core areas needing improvement and customize a study plan on an individual basis. We combine comprehensive study materials and test-taking strategies based on the most recent developments of the ACT to create the most effective lesson plans.

Gallagher Prep has been around for over 30 years helping thousands of children achieve top scores and admitted to the most prestigious and competitive schools.  Taking prep classes and having someone leading the way can help further educate your understanding of the ACT.

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