Three scores are reported for the ACT reading test: a total
test score based on all 40 questions, a subscore in Social
Studies/Sciences reading skills (based on the 20 questions
on the social studies and natural sciences passages), and
a subscore in Arts/Literature reading skills (based on the 20
questions on the literary narrative and humanities passages).
Tips for Taking the ACT Reading Test
The ACT reading test contains 40 questions to be
completed in 35 minutes. If you spend 2–3 minutes reading
the passage(s) in each section, then you will have about
35 seconds to answer each question. If possible, spend
less time on the passages and the questions and use the
remaining time allowed for this test to review your work and
return to the questions on this test that were most difficult
Read each passage carefully.
Before you begin answering a question, read the entire
passage (or two short passages) carefully. Be conscious
of relationships between or among ideas. You may
make notes in the test booklet about important ideas in the
Refer to the passages when answering the questions.
Answers to some of the questions will be found by referring
to what is explicitly stated in the text. Other questions will
require you to determine implicit meanings and to draw
conclusions, comparisons, and generalizations. Consider
the text before you answer any question.
Content Covered by the ACT Reading Test
The reading test is based on four types of reading
selections: the social studies, the natural sciences,
literary narrative, and the humanities. A subscore in Social
Studies/Sciences reading skills is based on the questions
on the social studies and the natural sciences passages,
and a subscore in Arts/Literature reading skills is based
on the questions on the literary narrative and humanities
passages. A brief description and the approximate
percentage of the test devoted to each type of reading
selection are given below.
Social Studies (25%). Questions in this category are
based on passages in the content areas of anthropology,
archaeology, biography, business, economics, education,
geography, history, political science, psychology, and
Natural Sciences (25%). Questions in this category are
based on passages in the content areas of anatomy,
astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, ecology, geology,
medicine, meteorology, microbiology, natural history,
physiology, physics, technology, and zoology.
Literary Narrative (25%) or Prose Fiction (25%). Questions
in the Literary Narrative category are based on passages
from short stories, novels, memoirs, and personal essays.
Questions in the Prose Fiction category are based on
passages from short stories and novels.
Humanities (25%). Questions in this category are based on
passages in the content areas of architecture, art, dance,
ethics, film, language, literary criticism, music, philosophy,
radio, television, and theater. Questions may be based on
passages from memoirs and personal essays.
ACT Science Test
The ACT science test is a 40-question, 35-minute test that
measures the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning,
and problem-solving skills required in the natural sciences.
The test presents several sets of scientific information, each
followed by a number of multiple-choice test questions. The
scientific information is conveyed in one of three different
formats: data representation (graphs, tables, and other
schematic forms), research summaries (descriptions of
several related experiments), or conflicting viewpoints
(expressions of several related hypotheses or views that
are inconsistent with one another). The questions require
you to recognize and understand the basic features of, and
concepts related to, the provided information; to examine
critically the relationship between the information provided
and the conclusions drawn or hypotheses developed;
and to generalize from given information to gain new
information, draw conclusions, or make predictions.
You are not permitted to use a calculator on the ACT
One score is reported for the ACT science test: a total test
score based on all 40 questions.
Tips for Taking the ACT Science Test
The ACT science test contains 40 questions to be completed
in 35 minutes. If you spend about 2 minutes reading each
passage, then you will have about 30 seconds to answer
each question. If possible, spend less time on the passages
and the questions and use the remaining time allowed for
this test to review your work and return to the questions on
this test that were most difficult for you.
Read the passage carefully.
Before you begin answering a question, read the scientific
material provided. It is important that you read the entire
text and examine any tables, graphs, or figures. You may
want to make notes about important ideas in the information
provided in the test booklet. Some of the information
sets will describe experiments. You should consider the
experimental design, including the controls and variables,
because questions are likely to address this component of
Note different viewpoints in passages.
Some material will present conflicting points of view,
and the questions will ask you to distinguish among the
various viewpoints. It may be helpful for you to make notes
summarizing each viewpoint next to that section in the test
Content Covered by the ACT Science Test
The content of the science test includes biology,
chemistry, physics, and the Earth/space sciences
(for example, geology, astronomy, and meteorology).
Advanced knowledge in these subjects is not required,
but knowledge acquired in general, introductory science
courses is needed to answer some of the questions. The
test emphasizes scientific reasoning skills over recall of
scientific content, skill in mathematics, or reading ability.
The scientific information is conveyed in one of three
Data Representation (30–40%). This format presents
graphic and tabular material similar to that found in science
journals and texts. The questions associated with this
format measure skills such as graph reading, interpretation
of scatter plots, and interpretation of information presented
Research Summaries (45–55%). This format provides
descriptions of one or more related experiments. The
questions focus upon the design of experiments and the
interpretation of experimental results.
Conflicting Viewpoints (15–20%). This format presents
expressions of several hypotheses or views that, being
based on differing premises or on incomplete data, are
inconsistent with one another. The questions focus upon
the understanding, analysis, and comparison of alternative
viewpoints or hypotheses.
ACT Writing Test (Optional)
If you register for the ACT with writing, you will take the ACT
writing test (which must be completed in English) after you
complete the four multiple-choice tests.
The ACT writing test is a 40-minute essay test that
measures your writing skills—specifically those writing
skills emphasized in high school English classes and in
entry-level college composition courses. The test describes
an issue and provides three different perspectives on
the issue. You are asked to “evaluate and analyze” the
perspectives; to “state and develop” your own perspective;
and to “explain the relationship” between your perspective
and those given. Your score will not be affected by the
perspective you take on the issue.
Taking the writing test will not affect your scores on the
multiple-choice tests or your Composite score. Rather, you
will receive a single subject-level writing score on a scale
of 1–36 and five additional scores: an English Language
Arts score on a scale of 1–36 and scores for four domains
of writing competencies (Ideas and Analysis, Development
and Support, Organization, and Language Use and
Conventions) on a scale of 2–12.
Two trained readers will score your essay from 1-6 in each
of four writing domains. Each domain score represents
the sum of the two readers’ scores. Your Writing Score is
calculated from your domain scores and is reported on a
scale of 1–36. Your domain scores do not necessarily add
up to your reported Writing Score.
Tips for Taking the ACT Writing Test
The ACT writing test contains one question to be
completed in 40 minutes. When asked to write a timed
essay, most writers find it useful to do some planning
before they write the essay, and to do a final check of the
essay when it is finished. It is unlikely that you will have time
to draft, revise, and recopy your essay.
Before writing, carefully read and consider all prompt
material. Be sure you understand the issue, its
perspectives, and your essay task. The prewriting
questions included with the prompt will help you analyze
the perspectives and develop your own. Use these
questions to think critically about the prompt and generate
effective ideas in response. Ask yourself how your ideas
and analysis can best be supported and organized in a
written argument. Use the prewriting space in your test
booklet to structure or outline your response.
Establish the focus of your essay by making clear your
argument and its main ideas. Explain and illustrate your
ideas with sound reasoning and meaningful examples.
Discuss the significance of your ideas: what are the
implications of what you have to say, and why is your
argument important to consider? As you write, ask yourself
if your logic is clear, you have supported your claims, and
you have chosen precise words to communicate your
Review your essay.
Take a few minutes before time is called to read over your
essay. Correct any mistakes. If you find any words that are
hard to read, recopy them. Make corrections and revisions
neatly, between the lines. Do not write in the margins. Your
readers know you had only 40 minutes to compose and
write your essay. Within that time limit, try to make your
essay as polished as you can.
There are many ways to prepare for the ACT writing
test. These include reading newspapers and magazines,
listening to news analyses on television or radio, and
participating in discussions and debates.
One of the best ways to prepare for the ACT writing test
is to practice writing with different purposes for different
audiences. The writing you do in your classes will help you.
So will writing essays, stories, editorials, a personal journal,
or other writing you do on your own.
It is also a good idea to practice writing within a time limit.
Taking the practice ACT writing test will give you a sense
of how much additional practice you may need. You might
want to take the practice ACT writing test even if you do
not plan to take the ACT with writing, because this will help
build skills that are important in college-level learning and
in the world of work.
What to Expect
on Test Day
For National and International test dates, you must report
to the test center by the time stated on your ticket, normally
8:00 a.m. If you are late, you will not be admitted to test. If
your ticket does not list a specific room, test center staff or
posted signs will direct you.
Requirements for Admission
At check-in, you will be required to show both your
paper ticket and acceptable photo ID or you will not be
admitted to test. See ID requirements on your ticket or
In the Test Room
• The supervisor or proctor will direct you to a seat. If
you need a left-handed desk, tell your supervisor as
• Do not leave the test room after you have been admitted.
• Only pencils, erasers, a permitted calculator, and your
ticket will be allowed on your desk.
• You will be required to put all other personal belongings
• You may not use tobacco in any form or have food or
drink (including water) in the test room. You may have
snacks and drinks outside the test room during break.
• Testing will begin as soon as all examinees present at
8:00 a.m. are checked in and seated.
• Listen carefully to all directions read by your supervisor.
• It is important that you follow all directions carefully.
• On some test dates, ACT tries out questions to develop
future versions of the tests. You may be asked to take
a fifth test, the results of which will not be reflected in
your reported scores. The fifth test could be multiple-
choice or one for which you will create your own
answers. Please try your best on these questions,
because your participation can help shape the future of
the ACT. If you are in a test room where the fifth test is
administered, you will be dismissed at about 12:35 p.m.
Prohibited Behavior at the Test
The following behaviors are prohibited. You will be
dismissed and your answer document will not be scored if
you are found:
• Filling in or altering responses on a test section on your
answer sheet or continuing to complete the essay after
time has been called on that test section. This means
that you cannot make any changes to a test section
outside of the designated time for that section, even to
fix a stray mark or accidental keystroke.
• Looking back at a test section on which time has
already been called.
• Looking ahead in the test booklet.
• Looking at another person’s test booklet or answer
• Giving or receiving assistance by any means.
• Discussing or sharing of test content, test form
identification numbers, or answers during test
administration, during breaks, or after the test is
• Using a prohibited calculator (www.actstudent.org).
• Using a calculator on any test section other than
• Sharing a calculator with another person.
• Using a watch with recording, internet, or
• Using any electronic device at any time during testing
or during break other than an approved calculator
or watch. All other electronic devices, including cell
phones and wearable devices, must be turned off and
placed out of reach from the time you are admitted to
test until you are dismissed after testing concludes.
• Attempting to memorize test-related information or
otherwise remove test materials, including questions or
answers, from the test room in any way.
• Using highlight pens, colored pens or pencils, notes,
dictionaries, or other aids.
• Using scratch paper (unless an exception applies).
o Specific instructions will be provided on test day if
ACT authorizes you to use scratch paper, including
the section(s) on which ACT has authorized its use.
o If you are permitted to use scratch paper, you may
only use paper that ACT has authorized and/or
provided to you.
• Not following instructions or abiding by the rules of the
• Exhibiting confrontational, threatening, or unruly
behavior; or violating any laws. If ACT suspects you are
engaging in criminal activities, such activities will be
reported to law enforcement agencies.
• Allowing an alarm to sound in the test room or creating
any other disturbance.
All items brought into the test center, such as hats, purses,
backpacks, cell phones, calculators, and other electronic
devices may be searched at the discretion of ACT and its
testing staff. ACT and its testing staff may confiscate and
retain for a reasonable period of time any item suspected
of having been used, or being capable of being used, in
violation of this list of prohibited behaviors. ACT may also
provide such items to third parties in connection with an
investigation conducted by ACT or others. ACT and its
testing staff shall not be responsible for lost, stolen, or
Voiding Your Answer
Documents on Test Day
If you have to leave the test center before completing all
your tests, you must decide whether or not you want your
answer document scored and inform your supervisor of
your decision. If you do not, your answer document will
Once you break the seal on your multiple-choice test
booklet, you cannot request a Test Date Change. If you
do not complete all your tests and want to test again, you
will have to pay the full fee for your test option again. If
you want to take the ACT again, see www.actstudent.org
for your options. Once you begin filling out your answer
document, you cannot change from one test option to
Testing More Than Once
You may not receive scores from more than one test taken
during a scheduled National or International test date. For
example, you may test on Saturday or on an authorized
non-Saturday date or on a rescheduled test date—but
not on more than one of those days. If you are admitted
and allowed to test a second time, we will report only the
scores from the first test. The second set of scores will be
cancelled without refund.
Test Information Release
On certain National test dates, if you test at a National
test center, you may order (for an additional fee) a copy
of the test questions, a copy of your answers, a list of
correct answers, and scoring instructions. This service is
not available for all test dates or for other testing programs
(e.g., International, State and District, Special). If you want to
request and pay for this service, check www.actstudent.org
to see which test dates offer this service.
Taking the Practice Tests
Take the practice tests under conditions as similar as
possible to those you will experience on test day. The
following tips will help you:
• The four multiple-choice tests require 2 hours and
55 minutes. Take them in order in one sitting, with a
10- to 15-minute break between Tests 2 and 3.
• You will need only sharpened No. 2 pencils with good
erasers. Remove all other items from your desk. You will
not be allowed to use scratch paper.
• If you plan to use a permitted calculator on the
mathematics test, use the same one you will use on test
• Use a digital timer or clock to time yourself on each
practice test. Set your timer for five minutes less than
the time allowed for each test so you can get used to
the verbal announcement of five minutes remaining.
• Give yourself only the time allowed for each test.
• Detach and use the sample multiple-choice answer
document on pages 63–64.
• Read the test directions on the first page of the practice
multiple-choice tests. These are the same directions
that will appear on your test booklet on test day.
• Start your timer and begin with Test 1. Continue through
Test 4, taking a 10- to 15-minute break between Tests
2 and 3. If you do not plan to take the ACT with writing,
score your multiple-choice tests using the information
beginning on page 56.
• If you plan to take the ACT with writing, read the
directions on the first page of the practice ACT writing
test (page 53). These are the same directions that will
appear on your test booklet on test day. Start your
timer, then read the prompt on page 54. After you
understand what the prompt is asking you to do, plan
your essay and then write it on lined paper. (On test
day, your answer document will have lined pages for
you to write your essay.) Score your essay using the
information on pages 61–62.
Documents you may be interested
Documents you may be interested