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Everything You Need To Know To Nail Your ACT Exam In 2023

"All things are ready if our mind be so"-  William Shakespeare

Do you know as per the National Center for Education Statistics, 46% of 2020 high school graduates got enrolled for the ACT? This percentage is equivalent to almost 1,670,000 graduates.

Undeniably, when you are preparing to take the ACT exam, a substantial amount of fear and confusion can arise in the midst of cut-throat competition – akin to the whole process of college application. Hence, to aid you, in today's comprehensive post, we have curated a remarkable smorgasbord of remarkable ACT resources that focuses hugely on each crucial aspect of the ACT exam.

Know the more unknowns you can reduce; the greater chances are your brain will be able to concentrate on what's vital come exam day and enable you to perform to the best of your capabilities. Going through this comprehensive post will also help you comprehend what’s approaching, gain confidence to take the test effectively, and knock it out of the park like a pro.

Ready? Fasten the seatbelts. Let’s take off!

ACT Exam: A Quick Overview

Before you go knee-deep to comprehend how to write an ACT exam effectively, developing an in-depth idea of the ACT exam is significant. Here's what you need to comprehend –

  • The ACT or the American College Test is a college entrance exam like the SAT. It is completely a multiple-choice exam and takes on average three hours to complete.
  • The ACT exam was designed in 1959 by Everett Franklin Lindquist, a professor at the University of Iowa who was looking for a remarkable alternative to the SAT.
  • There are basically two key players in the industry of college testing – the College Board, which administers the AP, SAT, and PSAT. And ACT Inc. controls the ACT.
  • In the ACT exam, students are evaluated in five main subjects – English, Math, Science, Reading, and Writing (not mandatory).
  • Admission committees make use of ACT test scores to gauge the college readiness and academic aptitude of a student.
  • It also offers a standardized manner of comparing students fairly beyond their class rank and GPA to reduce the countless gaps that exist between students of different districts or states effectively.
  • When ACT is used to compare different students, it evens the competition and makes sure deprived students aren’t simply left behind due to the location of their schools.
  • The cost of taking the ACT is $52 without the writing exam and $68 with it. It also incorporates a $55 fee for late registration, $30 for a change in the date of the test, and $32 for a change of dates of the test or change of center. Further, ACT Inc. also offers waivers in fees for financially challenged students.

Getting the hang of it? We are sure you are. Let’s now proceed to the next section to find out the structure of the ACT exam in detail!

ACT Exam: Explore the Structure

The ACT comprises four timed sections that total two hours and fifty-five minutes. The exam includes a total of 215 multiple-choice questions in math, science, reading, and English. An additional writing section is entirely optional, which increases the overall exam time by 40 minutes.

In the test, every segment is scored from 1-36. Then, the scores of four sections are averaged into a composite score. Let’s take a look at each of them in the table given below –

Section Sub Section Length
English ✓Passage and questions about construction or
✓ Grammar and style
✓ Usage/Mechanics
✓ Rhetorical Skills
45 minutes for answering 75
Rectangular Snip
✓ Pre-Algebra
✓ Elementary Algebra  ✓Intermediate Algebra  ✓Coordinate Geometry
✓ Plane Geometry
✓ Trigonometry
60 minutes for answering 60 questions
Reading ✓ Literary narrative or
prose fiction
✓ Humanities
✓ Social Studies
✓ Natural Sciences
35 minutes for answering 40

ACT Exam: Understanding How it is Scored

Generally, the score on the ACT exam ranges from 1-36. The score of an individual is based on the number of correct answers in every segment. Hence, once you are done turning in the score sheet –

  • ACT Inc. calculates the number of correct questions in every section. Incorrect or blank answers will not penalize you in any way.
  • Raw scores are then converted to scores on scales.
  • Then, an average is taken of scale scores to craft a composite score. After this, the score is rounded to the nearest whole number.
  • Finally, the scores of individual sections and composite scores are sent to the colleges you choose when you complete the registration process.

ACT Exam: Why Should One Take it?

The idea of taking standardized tests isn't exciting to most students – quite the contrary actually. Why should you then take the ACT exam, then?

Take a look at certain crucial reasons why you should take the ACT exam –

  • The ACT score is accepted by all colleges and universities around the world.
  • It is the most-taken entrance exam in the world.
  • It offers the opportunity to stand apart in the herd with a STEM score. It assesses the preparedness for certain courses in STEM-related majors.
  • Scholarships are easily offered to high scorers of the ACT exam
  • The certain job requires ACT test scores
  • One may feel more comfortable enrolling for the ACT
  • One can select the scores you aim to send
  • There exists no penalty for guessing incorrectly

ACT vs SAT: What's the Difference?

You may be wondering, “Should I take the SAT or the ACT?”  At the very first look, both of these standardized exams seem incredibly similar, and numerous universities accept both scores.

However, taking a close look at the below-enlisted crucial points will enable you to decide effectively –

  • Time Per Segment

The greatest difference is the amount of time allotted to each segment of the exam. The SAT offers more time per question for every segment of the test. On the other hand, the ACT demands you to move swiftly through the questions.

  • Score Range

The ACT exam scores an average of every section on a scale of 1-36. Whereas the SAT score every segment on a scale of 200-400. The total score can range anywhere between 400-1600 points.

  • Duration

The duration of the ACT exam is 3 hours and 35 minutes with the essay and 3 hours without the writing test. On the other hand, the duration of the SAT is longer, with 3 hours without the writing section and 3 hours and 35 minutes with the writing section.

  • Math Section

The math section of SAT is categorized into one calculator and one non-calculator segment. These segments contribute to about 50% of the final SAT score. The ACT includes a calculator segment that contributes to about 25% of the overall score. Hence, if math is not your strong point, it is best to take the ACT exam.

As you see, there exists a certain crucial difference between both exams. But ultimately, you should enroll for the test you feel most comfortable with and believe you can perform best on, regardless of which one the universities may favor!

Also Read: How to List Education on a Resume

ACT Exam: Know the Unique Guidelines to Write it Effectively

The duration of the ACT exam is 3 hours and 35 minutes which implies that you have just adequate time to go through the paper once and tick off the correct answers. Apart from that, you will have a 10-minute interval after the Math segment and a break of 5 minutes before beginning to craft the essay.   

Now, let’s check out the effective guidelines to approach the different sections of the ACT exam and the ways to ace them remarkably –


  • English

The ACT English test comprises 75 questions, and 45 minutes are allocated for it. This denotes that you will get 30-40 seconds to answer each question. The English section can be categorized into three parts in aspects of the content – Conventions of Standard English (more than 50% of the exam), In-depth knowledge of the language (10-20% of the test), and Writing Production (more than 30% of the exam).

Here are certain effective guidelines to ace this significant segment of the ACT test format –

  • Master the Grammar Rules

To nail your ACT English exam, it is wise to develop a profound knowledge of the different rules of grammar. This incorporates where and where not to include the punctuation marks. You will also need to have a lucid understanding of comma splices or other mechanics of English and ways to avoid run-on sentences or mediocre sentence structures successfully.  

  • Consider the Transitional Sentences Closely

Transitional relationships are a running theme in the ACT test format. You will need to go through the entire sentence completely before you give an answer to these questions. Consider the kinds of transitional relationships between different sentences, clauses, or paragraphs. Try to narrow down the choices. You can also master eliminating the underlined part of a question, plugging in every answer choice, and seeing if one suits the transitional objectivity of a sentence remarkably.

  • Go Through the Paper Carefully to Gain Context

When most students realize that they will be primarily tackling revision of text and grammar, they tend to easily look past the key ideas and goal of the narrative. Now, though you do not need to keep in mind every word of the passage, comprehending the key idea and purpose may aid in getting crucial insights for answering relevant questions.

  • Math

The Math segment of the ACT is the next to pass your desk. It is perhaps the longest section with the most questions. The Math segment of the ACT can be categorized into – Pre-Algebra (20-25% of questions), Elementary Algebra (15-20% of questions), Coordinate Geometry (15-20%), Intermediate Algebra (up to 20% of questions), Plane Geometry (around 25% of questions), and Trigonometry (between 5-10% of questions).

Have a look at the remarkable ways to sail through the Math section like an academic champion –

  • Learn the Formulas by Heart

Like, there's no way to bypass mastering your grammar rules; there’s nothing equivalent to learning crucial formulas for your ACT math test by heart. Certain formulas you must know by heart are –

  • Percentages
  • Logarithms
  • Pythagorean Theorem
  • Properties of right triangles
  • Volume and area of distinct shapes
  • Forms of slope-intercept
  • Midpoint formula
  • Averages
  • Formula of mid-point

These are just a category of what you must know to nail your ACT Math exam. Try to do practice tests to become well-versed with other crucial things.

  • Determine the Best Methods for Calculation

Enhancing your ACT exam skills includes figuring out which strategies work the best for you. A remarkable method is to go through the question first, extract all the crucial information you’ll require, and pen it down at the bottom of the booklet. Then you can take a look at the answers, formulate a hypothesis and make use of traditional math to arrive at the correct solution. Further, if you believe you've made any errors, you can try solving them with the help of different answer choices.

  • Piece-In Answers if You’re Skeptical

Try to piece in multiple-choice answers after eliminating the ones you know are inaccurate. However, remember this method can consume your precious time, so try to not make this your go-to technique for every math question,  

  • Reading

With half the exam complete, you can now move on to deal with the ACT Reading exam questions. This test comprises 40 questions to answer within 35 minutes. The objective of this exam is to demonstrate you can read closely, extract critical information using evidence, and amalgamate information from countless sources.

Check out the strategies to sail through the reading segment effectively –

  • Go Through the Questions First

Going through the questions actively implies knowing beforehand what you will read. Hence, before you begin the passage, take a close look at the questions. You'll know the crucial details to find. In that way, you won't be wasting time on aspects that never appear in the question.

  • Search Transition Words

Consider the transition words to be road signs. They will show you the route, direct you effectively on a detour, and get you back on the path of the key idea.

  • Utilize the Line References

It is never wise to waste energy trying to depend solely on your memory during a timed and high-stakes exam. Know the line references are given for a good reason. So, ensure to use them and always remember to read around the line reference for proper context. If a question references line 15, go through 15-17. The accurate answer will always be offered support in the passage.

  • Science

One will get 40 minutes to finish answering all 35 questions on the ACT Science exam. The science test incorporates biology, chemistry, physics, and Earth and space science. The objective of the science section is to evaluate your evaluation, analysis, reasoning, and problem-solving skills needed in natural sciences.

The science information and passages on the exam are presented in one of three manners - Data Representation (30-40%), Research Summaries (45-55%), Conflicting Perspectives (15-20%), Interpretations of Data (40-50%), Scientific Investigations (20-30%) and Evaluation of Models, Inferences, and Experimental Results (25-35%).

Here are guidelines to nail your science segment on the ACT Exam successfully 

  • Annotation is the Key

In the ACT test format, the passages of science are excessively dense and offer ample extraneous information. Hence, while going through a section, try to underline the key information, sketch in the margins, or feel free to input little arrows for diagrams. Your sole motto should be to break up huge chunks of content into digestible pieces.

  • Recognize Your Inner Scientist

Remember, you are evaluated on a certain scientific content, but you’re being evaluated on your capacity to recognize patterns. So, try to imagine a situation where two scientists are constantly arguing why Royal Bengal tigers are becoming extinct. Try to figure out what the scientists agree on and the differences in their opinions. Channelize your inner scientist to understand patterns and notice the difference or overlaps in opinion.

  • Understand Your Pace

Know the ACT Science segment isn’t simply about science. Instead, it’s all about combining your reading and data analysis skills. Pacing is incredibly significant. Akin to the ACT reading section, your score may increase significantly if you are well-versed with when to invest adequate time in a question and the time to skip around.

Clear till now? We are sure by now you’ve developed an in-depth understanding of how long is the act exam remarkably. Let’s now proceed to comprehend ways to write the ACT essay segment efficiently!

6 Winning Tips and Techniques to Craft an Impeccable ACT Essay

Undeniably, the format of the ACT essay differs from regular essays, including time. The ACT essay prompts offer three distinct perspectives on a complex issue in response to which you need to turn in a brilliant essay.

Intelligent Machines

Many of the goods and services we depend on daily are now supplied by intelligent, automated machines rather than human beings. Robots build cars and other goods on assembly lines, where once there were human workers. Many of our phone conversations are now conducted not with people but with sophisticated technologies. We can now buy goods at a variety of stores without the help of a human cashier. Automation is generally seen as a sign of progress, but what is lost when we replace humans with machines? Given the accelerating variety and prevalence of intelligent machines, it is worth examining the implications and meaning of their presence in our lives.
Read and carefully consider these perspectives. Each suggests a particular way of thinking about the increasing presence of intelligent machines.

Perspective One

What we lose with the replacement of people by machines is some part of our own humanity. Even our mundane daily encounters no longer require from us basic courtesy, respect, and tolerance for other people.

Perspective Two

Machines are good at low-skill, repetitive jobs, and at high-speed, extremely precise jobs. In both cases they work better than humans.
This efficiency leads to a more prosperous and progressive world for everyone.

Perspective Three

Intelligent machines challenge our long-standing ideas about what humans are or can be. This is good because it pushes both humans and machines toward new, unimagined possibilities.

Essay Task

 Write a unified, coherent essay in which you evaluate multiple perspectives on the increasing presence of intelligent machines. In your essay, be sure to:

•analyze and evaluate the perspectives given

•State and develop your own perspective on the issue
•explain the relationship between your perspective and those given

Your perspective may be in full agreement with any of the others, in partial agreement, or wholly different. Whatever the case, support your ideas with logical reasoning and detailed, persuasive examples.

Sounds a bit complicated? No need to worry. To help you out, we have listed remarkable tips and techniques that will enable you to craft spectacular ACT essays in the best ways possible. Have a look –

  • Define the Stance Clearly
  • Don't Get Attached to the Facts
  • Be Specific
  • Present Perspectives for the Opposition, Too
  • Vocabulary is Extremely Crucial
  • Include Concrete Examples
  • Define Your Stance Clearly

Clarity is key in crafting ACT essays. Choose your side of the persuasive argument and craft your thesis. Try to figure out what exactly you are arguing 'against' or 'for'. This will help in establishing the base of your essay and rounding out the intro paragraph, so it's crucial to nail this.

  • Getting Too Attached to the Facts is a Big No

Know the ACT essay readers will never fact-check your papers. It truly doesn’t matter if you include statistics or credible studies. Your objective is to portray you possess the talent to convince. They are also well-acquainted with the fact that you didn't prepare for this topic or conduct extensive research. Hence, try to establish the ethos, pathos, and logos of your essay.

  • Being Specific Can Be a Game Changer

Enlist three or four points in the body paragraphs of the ACT essay. Ensure to also bullet-list these in the outline. When you offer a supporting reason for your thesis, make sure to explain the reason exactly. And, be excessively specific. Do not ever presume your readers can read your mind, so always lay it out for them.

  • Take the Opposing Side Into Consideration Too

When you’re presenting your side of the debate, it doesn’t imply you’re ignoring the opposing perspective. By mentioning a point on the other side, you’re actually strengthening your ACT essay. Thus, make sure to counter it. Include aspects like “While A may be true, B outweighs it” or “Some will argue Y will happen, and while that’s a real possibility…”.

  • Take Care of the Language

Vocabulary is a powerful and indispensable tool. And this is your perfect place to flex it. After all, language plays a huge role in convincing. Invest adequate time to master certain new words and include them (where necessary). However, be careful not to go overboard and include 'big' words for the sake of sounding clever. You always need to use them correctly in the proper places.

  • Incorporate Concrete Examples

Supporting your arguments with concrete examples is one of the best ways to craft an outstanding ACT essay. You could use this as a crucial opportunity to demonstrate your historical knowledge by connecting your arguments to relevant facts or current events. You can also come up with a rhetorical scenario. If possible, try to include personal anecdotes that connect directly to your argument. The key is to ensure that your ACT essay draws from real concrete examples instead of just vague, abstract arguments.

Get Ready to Shine in the ACT

ACT is perhaps one of the most important entrance exams. Without a shade of a doubt, it is incredibly stressful but manageable. One of the best ways to do that is to manage the time that will aid you in scoring more and outshining others. Eliminate anxiety and nervous thoughts. Go through this guide, know everything from top to bottom, create proper strategies, stick to everyday routines, practice, and revise in your free time. Finally, remember, no one is perfect. So keep on practicing and get ready to stand apart in the herd with the highest scores. Good luck!

FAQs Related To Act Exam

Q1. How to register for the ACT?

Registering for the ACT is an incredibly easy process that takes about only half an hour. All you need to do is log on to Then, you need to click on register or sign. Simply fill in the details of the high school course, followed by uploading a headshot. Finally, you need to pay the registration fees. Voila! You're now registered for the ACT.

Q2. How to check the ACT scores?

One can easily check the ACT scores on the MYACT account. All the scores are generally provided between 2-8 weeks after the test. However, if you’ve taken the optional writing test, you will get the overall scores only after the writing scores are available. Also, note the ACT sends the final scores to the recipients you have mentioned in the registration form.

Q3. When should you plan to take the ACT?

ACT is offered 7 times a year (6 times for students residing in New York). However, it is wise to enroll for the ACT at least two months before the college deadlines and any scholarship you desire to apply for. You can also take it for the first time during your junior year spring. This will provide you with enough time to give the test again in the fall of the senior year.

Q4. How much does it cost to take the ACT?  

If you register for the ACT without the writing section, you need to pay $52 approximately. But, if you register for the ACT with the writing segment, you will require paying $68 approximately. Further, you need to pay additional fees in cases of late registration, changing your date of exams or center, or sending scores to more than four colleges. Furthermore, fee waivers for the ACT are available for eligible students.

Q5. Do I need to submit both ACT and SAT scores?

If you end up taking both tests, you will have countless options for sending your scores to the schools. Generally, it is always wise to send in your high score, percentile-wise. Also, make it a point to check with your chosen schools for preference.

Q6. Should I retake the ACT if I am not happy with the score?

If you have time on your hands, we will recommend you take it. Taking the ACT at least 2 times is wise, especially as it comes with super-scoring options. However, try not to take it more than 3 times. After that, you should reconsider the approach and take SAT instead. Also, you can concentrate on making other sections of the application outstanding.

Q7. Should I take the optional writing test?

Countless schools prefer students incorporate the results of the optional writing section of the ACT. You should absolutely take it because –

  • An excellent score in the writing section can offer you the upper edge required.
  • Performing remarkably in the writing sections can help if the other transcriptions demonstrate a weakness in language skills.
  • It is always better to take it and not require it than vice versa.

Q8. How do I know what a good ACT score is?

Usually, anything above the average composite score of 20 is believed to be a good ACT score. However, it isn’t a competitive score at some of the renowned colleges in the world. The average ACT score of students enrolled in top universities ranges between 30 to 35.

Q9. Does the ACT provide Super scores?

The ACT offers a calculated ACT Superscore to each and every student. If you choose to undertake the ACT countless times, the best scores from every segment will be combined into a super score. However, remember different colleges have different policies around super scoring – some accept happily while others assess your application through the best test.

Q10. Is it problematic to take the ACT test multiple times?

Though it is possible to take the test up to 12 times, it is best to take it not more than 2-3 times. Beyond that, it's doubtful you will be able to boost your scores considerably. Further, countless retakes can reflect negatively on your college applications.

Read Also: Best Special Education Colleges



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