Main Things to Know About the ACT

What do I need to know about the ACT?

Many students will choose to take both the SAT and the ACT.

What is the format of the ACT?

The ACT is a standardized test that includes four multiple choice sections testing English, Math, Reading and Science (2 h 55 min), plus an optional Writing section (40 min). A calculator is allowed when taking the math section. Many students will wonder: why should I complete the ACT essay if it’s not required? However, many of the more selective colleges and universities DO require an ACT writing score (some only recommend it). In general, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and take the Writing test to avoid limiting your options and to demonstrate your writing skills.

How many times can I take the ACT?

The ACT may be taken up to 12 times (7 test dates per year), but it is not generally recommended to take the test so many times. Usually students will achieve their best score within three attempts. Most colleges will now super score results if students submit records of multiple attempts. This means they will select the highest score for each section from multiple test attempts and combine those scores. The most highly selective schools do require you to submit all of your test scores, so in these cases having taken the test an unusual number of times may stand out unfavorably.

When is the best time to take the ACT?

Students should think about taking the test during spring of junior year and fall of senior year. This is the best timing to ensure you have covered all of the math content in your classes. However, many students take the test earlier in their junior year. The fall of senior year exams will be too late for students planning to apply early so keep this in mind. You may also ask: what is a good ACT score? For top schools, students should aim to score above a 30 (94th percentile and up) and for the most elite institutions, scoring in the 98th percentile (33+) would be considered a good score!

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