What You Need to Know 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, grade 11 students in participating districts will take the ACT in early March (check with your district). ACT prep courses at Waubonsee are timed to prepare students for the March in-school testing date as well as the national test date in April.

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.

Waubonsee can help you prepare. Our test prep curriculum includes subject review, proven test-taking strategies and practice tests. Course options include - Raise Your Score – ACT Math, Raise Your Score – ACT English and Practice Makes Perfect -Try the ACT Test.

With our program you pay only for the courses you need, or you can take all three for complete preparation!

ACT Test Prep Courses

Visit our ACT prep course page or call Community Education at (630) 466-2360.