How to Write an ACT Exam - The Key Steps You Need to Follow

How to Write an ACT Exam


How to Write an ACT Exam

Do you have burning questions on how to write an ACT exam and are looking for ways to ace it? Continue reading to receive all the answers. On top of explaining how to approach the ACT exam, this guide will touch on other aspects, such as what an ACT exam is, who is eligible for it, and how to register and calculate its scores.

We have come across a good number of students stating that an ACT exam is challenging because it covers practically all high school subjects. However, thorough practice makes the exam child’s play.

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What Is an ACT Exam?

The ACT (American College Testing) evaluation is a standardized test for gauging a learner's preparedness for higher education. It is typical for United States colleges to use ACT scores when admitting students. Colleges consider other factors such as high school GPA, co-curricular activities, and essays, among others. Students generally take this assessment during their junior or senior year of high school.

ACT, Inc., a non-profit establishment, manages this examination. The exam comprises four sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science, and an optional Writing section that requires learners to compose an essay. Each section examines diverse facets of a learner's knowledge base offering ample comprehension of a learner's performance. The ACT evaluation is graded on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the maximum possible score. The composite score is determined by averaging the scores of the first four sections. The writing component is scored separately and does not contribute to the composite score.

It is important to note that we can assist you in scoring well on your ACT exam. Also, you can get SAT test answers from us. Just request help to enjoy any of these services.

How Do You Write the ACT Exam?

So, what steps do you take when writing the ACT exam? Before you do the exam, the obvious thing to do is to prepare for it and book a day to take the test. During exam day, you will work on one section of the exam and then move to the other. You will start writing the English section, then mathematics, reading, science, and writing. (Not all colleges will want you to do the writing test.)

Each section is allotted its own time, and the entire examination with the five sections takes 3 hours and 35 minutes to complete. Students are given two brief breaks during the testing period. The first break is after the mathematics test and before the reading assessment, and the other is before the writing evaluation.

Below is an in-depth discussion of each of these sections:

1. Take the English Test

The ACT English test evaluates a student's grasp of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage, including sentence structure, punctuation, and rhetoric skills. This test runs for 45 minutes and has 75 multiple-choice questions. The questions are based on five reading passages, each with 15 questions.  The questions in each passage measure students’ understanding of the passage and their ability to apply grammar rules and rhetorical strategies.

The topics in these passages cover fields such as:

  • Social studies
  • Humanities
  • Natural sciences

The English test section is one of four main sections on the ACT, with the others being mathematics, reading, and science. This section contributes equally (like all the others) to the composite score, which is the aggregate of the four sections.

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2. Take the Mathematics Test

The ACT Mathematical test is a crucial evaluation tool that gauges a learner's mastery of essential mathematical concepts and their capability to solve problems linked to algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.

The exam features 60 multiple-choice questions that examinees must answer within 60 minutes. During the assessment, learners must showcase their proficiency in solving math problems that start from simple to more intricate levels of mathematical concepts.

Specifically, the evaluation concentrates on diverse topics, including:

  • Pre-algebra
  • Elementary equations
  • Intermediate equations
  • Coordinated geometry
  • Plane geometry
  • Trigonometry

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3. Take the Reading Test

The ACT Reading test evaluates how well a student can read and understand different written materials. It has 40 multiple-choice questions from four reading passages and lasts 35 minutes. The passages come from fields such as:

  • Social studies
  • Natural sciences
  • Humanities

The passages are at a level similar to what students might read in the first semester of college. The test aims to check if students can grasp the main points of the passage, deduce conclusions, make guesses, and find the sense of words used in context.

4. Take the Science Test

The ACT Science exam assesses how well students can use their scientific expertise to think critically and scrutinize information presented in diagrams, graphs, and tables. There are 40 questions on the assessment, and they are all multiple-choice. The test takes 35 minutes and is established on seven distinct science passages, which cover fields like:

  • Life science
  • Organic chemistry
  • Physics
  • Geoscience

The questions in this section assist the learner in comprehending scientific ideas and using them in real-life circumstances, as well as analyzing and interpreting scientific information.

5. Take the Writing Test

The ACT Writing test involves writing an essay responding to a prompt. The essay prompt typically presents a complex issue or problem and requires the student to analyze and evaluate different perspectives on the issue and develop their position on the topic.

The learner has 40 minutes to strategize, write, and correct their written work. Two assessors independently grade the work on a scale of 2-12; the final grade is the average of both grades. This essay exam is not mandatory and does not influence the overall score, but many educational institutions recommend or mandate it as part of the admission procedure.

Who Is Eligible to Take the ACT Exam?

The ACT exam is a common standardized test most colleges in the United States use to evaluate students during admissions. The test is open to any person; there is no age restriction. Mostly, it is taken by students in their junior or senior year of high school who want to be admitted to an undergraduate program.

Nonetheless, it is not unusual to find students in their freshman and sophomore years taking the test. These high school students take the test at this stage to gauge themselves early and prepare for college application. In rare cases, students from grades 6 to 9 have taken the test. International students who desire to join U.S. colleges also do the ACT test.

How Do You Register for the ACT?

If you want to take the ACT exam and don’t know how to register, this section is for you. You can utilize two techniques to register:

1. Visit the ACT Website

The easiest way to register for an ACT exam is through the ACT website.  Take the steps below when using the website:

  1. Create an account
  2. Select the exam choice; will you take the writing section or not
  3. Choose the date and exam-taking location from the options provided
  4. Upload your passport photo
  5. Pay for the exam

2. Fill Out a Form

The other technique for booking an ACT exam is filling out a registration form and sending it via mail. The stages to follow in this technique are:

  1. Get hold of the registration form either from the ACT website or reach out to ACT staff
  2. Fill out the form with your particulars
  3. Choose a test date and location
  4. Select your exam choice; will you take the writing test or not
  5. Pay for the exam
  6. Send the form to the provided ACT email and wait for approval

Pro Tip: You should set the exam date more than 2 months before the application deadline for college or scholarship agencies. It is due to that it takes around 2 to 8 weeks for your ACT exam score to be available.

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What Is the Cost of The ACT Exam?

The cost of the ACT exam depends on various factors. The common factors are:

  • Exam choice
  • Test center region

During the authoring of this article, the cost of the ACT test in the U.S., including the writing test, costs $91, while the cost without the writing test is $66. The charges for international students depend on the location they reside. Check out the ACT website for more information if you are one of these students.

Note that there are other extra fees if you want additional services, such as:

  • Switching a test center or date
  • Late registration
  • Extra score reports

What Is the Process of Calculating the ACT Score?

The score for the ACT exam is determined by the correct answers provided in each section: English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The composite score is reached by computing the four sections' average. The score for each section ranges between 1-36 points. Also, the composite score scale is 1-36 points.

For each section, the examiners will count the correct answers, convert them to a raw score, then turn them into a scaled score; between 1 and 36. Afterward, they will determine the aggregate of all four sections. This is done by adding all four scores for the four sections and dividing the sum by four. Keep in mind that all the questions in these four sections are multiple-choice, and you will not be penalized for incorrect answers. So, answer all questions even if you don’t know the answer.

Your score will be calculated separately when you take the Writing test. The scale for the writing test is 2 – 12. Your score for this section will not be added to the composite score for the other four sections. Due to this, the score for the writing test will be recorded separately in the score report.

If you are looking for cramming tips when doing the ACT exam, you may want to consider reading the how to cram for the final exam article.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is The ACT Writing Test Optional?

The ACT writing test, or what others call the essay section, is optional. Some schools may want you to take it, while others may not. The score of the Writing test does not affect the composite score. However, if you are wondering whether to take it, the best option is to do it just in case the college you are applying to wants the score for the writing section. If you don’t have good writing skills and have confirmed that your college doesn’t require the Writing test scores, you may choose not to take the writing test.

2. How Long Does the ACT Take?

You will be given around 3 hours to complete the first four sections of the ACT exam without calculating the breaks. If you are doing the ACT Writing test, the fifth section, you will have 3 hours and 35 minutes to do the entire exam, excluding the breaks. Below is a breakdown of the allotted time for each section, together with the number of questions

English: 45 minutes and 75 questions

Mathematics: 60 minutes and 60 questions

Reading: 35 minutes and 40 questions

Science: 35 minutes and 40 questions

3. How Long Is the ACT Exam Together with The Writing Test?

An ACT exam with the essay section takes approximately 3 hours and 35 minutes without calculating the break time.

Bottom Line

What are the steps involved when writing an ACT exam? The steps are generally 4 or 5. The first step is to work on the English test. The second one is to do the math test, then followed by the reading test, then science, and finally, the writing test. However, it is not a must to do the writing test in all college applications.

If you want to understand some more details about the ACT exam, such as the registration, cost, score calculation, and how long is the ACT, then read this article. Place an order with us if you need answers to ACT practice exams or ACT tutoring services.

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author Melaine

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Melanie is a seasoned writer with more than 8 years of experience. She is passionate about academia and works off the clock to ensure she write the topnotch content for her readers.

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