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ACT Components

ACT Mathematics Test

The ACT Mathematics Test asks you to answer 60 multiple-choice questions in 60 minutes. The questions on the ACT Mathematics Test are drawn from the following six categories:

  • Pre-Algebra
  • Elementary Algebra
  • Intermediate Algebra
  • Coordinate Geometry
  • Plane Geometry
  • Trigonometry
You will receive a score for all 60 questions, and three subscores: a Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra subscore based on 24 questions, an Intermediate Algebra/Coordinate Geometry subscore based on 18 questions, and a Plane Geometry/Trigonometry subscore based on 18 questions.


ACT English Test

On the ACT English Test, you have 45 minutes to read five passages, or essays, and answer 75 multiple-choice questions about them-an average of 15 questions per essay.

Questions on the English Test fall into two categories:

  • Usage/Mechanics(punctuation, grammar and usage, sentence structure)
  • Rhetorical Skills (writing strategy, organization, style)
You’ll receive a score for all 75 questions, and two subscores-one based on 40 Usage/Mechanics questions and the other based on 35 Rhetorical Skills questions.


*If you choose to take the Writing Test, you will also receive a Combined English/Writing score.

You will not be tested on spelling, vocabulary, or on rote recall of the rules of grammar. Grammar and usage are tested only within the context of the essay. You won’t be tested directly on your vocabulary, although the better vocabulary is, the better equipped you’ll be to answer questions that involve choosing the most appropriate word.

Like the other tests in the ACT, the English Test doesn’t require you to memorize what you read. The questions and essays are side-by-side for easy reference. This is not a memorization test.

ACT Reading Test

Designed to measure your skill in reading, the ACT Reading Test asks you to answer 40 questions-10 questions about each four passages-in 35 minutes.

The ACT Reading Test contains one passage from each of the following four categories:

  • Prose Fiction (passages from short stories or novels)
  • Humanities (architecture, art, dance, ethics, film, language, literary criticism, memoir, music, personal essays, philosophy, radio, television, theater)
  • Social Studies (anthropology, archaeology, biography, business, economics, education, geography, history, political science, psychology, sociology)
  • Natural Sciences (anatomy, astronomy , biology, botany, chemistry, ecology, geology, medicine, meteorology, microbiology, natural history, physiology, physics, technology, zoology)

You’ll have 35 minutes to read the Reading Test’s four passages and answer the 40 multiple-choice questions. This means you’ll have about 8 to 8 ½ minutes to read each passage and answer the questions that follow.

ACT Science Test

The ACT Science Test asks you to answer 40 multiple-choice questions in 35 minutes. The questions measure the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and problem-solving skills associated with science. The Science Test is made up of seven test units, each consisting of a passage with scientific information followed by several multiple-choice questions.

The content areas of the ACT Science Test parallel the content of courses commonly taught in grades 7 through 12 and at the entry level at colleges and universities. Each test unit consists of one of the following content areas:

  • Biology (cell biology, botany, zoology, microbiology, ecology, genetics, evolution)
  • Chemistry (properties of matter, acids and bases, kinetics and equilibria, thermo chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, nuclear chemistry)
  • Earth/Space Sciences (geology, meteorology, oceanography, astronomy, environmental science)
  • Physics (mechanics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, fluids, solids, optics)


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