The ACT (originally an abbreviation of American College Testing) is a standardized test for high school achievement and college admissions produced and administered by ACT, Inc.

The required portion of the ACT runs two hours and 55 minutes and includes 215 multiple-choice questions divided into four subject tests: English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning. The ACT Plus Writing includes the four subject area tests plus a 30-minute writing test. Students receive a scaled score, ranging from 1 to 36, for each of the four multiple-choice test sections (English, math, reading, and science). The composite ACT score is the average of the student’s scaled scores for the four multiple-choice test sections, rounded to the nearest whole number. The writing test is scored separately; taking the Writing Test does not affect subject area scores or the composite score.

Most colleges and universities require either the SAT or the ACT for admission. (See What is the SAT?) A growing number of colleges and universities are testing-optional, which means they do not require students to submit either the ACT or SAT for admission. (More information can be found at The National Center for Fair & Open Testing.)

We recommend that students first take the ACT in the spring of their junior year. This way, if a student wishes to improve his or her score, the test can then be retaken in time for scores to be sent to colleges during the senior year.