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The ABCs of the ACT®

For many college-bound high school students and adults, the ACT® is a rite of passage required by most community and four-year colleges and universities to measure a student’s overall college readiness and to determine merit-based scholarship eligibility.

July 27, 2018

The standardized test is offered seven 7 times per year and covers subject areas including math, science, reading and English—with an optional section focused on writing. The ACT covers 215 questions in less than three hours. Each year, more than 1.5 million students sit for the multiple-choice test. The ACT is scored on a 36-point scale with your overall or “composite score” being an average of the four subject areas. The optional writing section is scored separately.

Practice Makes Possible
Think of the ACT as a basketball game—it would be ridiculous for a team to show up against a rival team without practicing first. Although most high school test-takers will be familiar with much of the information covered on the ACT, taking the test without some amount of preparation is not a good plan. There are plenty of resources to help you prepare including online practice tests, free study guides, free ACT workshops at your local Get2College center and ACT tips via text messaging. You can sign up for the ACT question of the day online at or access ACT Academy™, a free online learning tool and test practice program designed to help you get the best score possible on the ACT test, and well on your way to college and career success. 


Proven Test-taking Strategies
To be successful, you must manage your time. The ACT has more than 200 questions that you are expected to complete in less than 3 hours. Be quick, but do not rush. Maximize your points by concentrating on the easy to moderate questions and save the more difficult questions for last.

Use the process of elimination to narrow down your choices before taking a guess. Remember, a 50% chance of getting the question correct is better than a 25% chance.

When you come across a question that you have no clue how to solve, guess by picking a spot of the day. It doesn’t matter which spot you pick—the second spot (B or G) or third spot (C or H)—but it is important that you stick with the same spot each time you are unsure. Staying with the same spot, maximizes your chances of getting some of the questions right.

Use your test booklet to physically cross out wrong answers, work math problems, and underline key information in passages. Do not be afraid to show your work. Your test booklet will not be graded, so use it!


Fee Waivers
Students who can’t afford the registration fee, may be eligible for an ACT Fee Waiver. Fee waivers are not available directly from ACT. Work with your high school counselor or local Get2College Center to determine eligibility. If you are eligible, you may use up to two separate fee waivers.


Test Day Checklist
Like your mama says, get plenty of rest and get a good night’s sleep. We can’t stress the importance of going into the test game-ready. And, speaking of stress, it is important to manage your stress during the test by staying calm, stretching, and taking plenty of deep breaths.

On the morning of the test, don’t forget to bring a printed copy of your ticket, a number 2 pencil, a watch, a permitted calculator, an appropriate form of photo identification, and a positive attitude. For more information on what to bring to the ACT, visit here.