Learn More About the ACT
What is the ACT?
The ACT is a national college admissions examination that consists of subject area tests in English, math, reading and science. There is an optional 30-minute writing test. Some schools may require the writing test, while others may not.
The ACT includes 215 multiple-choice questions and takes approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete, including a short break (or just over four hours if you are taking the optional writing test).
The ACT is administered six times a year - September, October, December, February, April, and June. The optional writing portion is not available on the February test date.
Why is the ACT important?
The ACT provides colleges and universities with one common criterion that can be used to compare all applicants. The importance placed on ACT scores varies from school to school, but virtually all schools consider the ACT score to be a significant factor in admissions decisions. An average score can improve your chances of getting into many colleges. Highly selective colleges and universities may look for scores much higher than the average.
Other factors that schools consider include your high school GPA, academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, interviews and even personal essays.
How is the ACT scored?
You'll earn one ACT score (1 to 36) on each test (English, math, reading and science) and a composite ACT score - an average of the four tests. The composite score also ranges between 1 and 36. The national average composite score is about 21. Typically, for admissions purposes, schools are only concerned with your composite score.
If you take the writing test, you will receive a writing test subscore and a combined English/writing score.
When should I take the ACT?
Students have traditionally taken the ACT in the spring of their junior year and, if necessary, again in the fall of their senior year. In Illinois, all high school juniors take the ACT in April as part of the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE). ACT prep courses at Waubonsee are timed to prepare students for the April PSAE.
How can I prepare?
First, you need to practice. A limited number of practice questions are available free of charge at www.actstudent.org. Additional resources such as practice exams are available for purchase.
Most students will also benefit from subject and content review. Unlike the SAT, the ACT tests for content – in other words, what you have learned in school. Lastly, you need to learn proven test-taking strategies for the ACT.
We can help you prepare. Our comprehensive ACT Victory course provides practice exams, subject review and proven test-taking strategies. Other options include our focused subject review courses - Raise Your Score – ACT Math and Raise Your Score – ACT Verbal