The ACT® Test

Posted August 03, 2011

The ACT is a national college admission and placement examination.

What percentage of ACT-tested 2011 high school graduates met all four of ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks?
25%

How does that compare to past years?
It’s up by 1 percentage point for the third straight year.

What was the national average ACT composite score for 2011?
21.1

How does that compare to past years?
It is unchanged from 2008 and 2009 but up from 21.0 last year.

What is the source of the 2011 ACT national average?
The scores of all ACT-tested 2011 high school graduates (more than 1.6 million students)

What is the highest possible ACT score?
36

What percentage of 2011 graduates who took the ACT scored 36?
Less than one-tenth of 1 percent

What subject areas do the ACT questions cover?
English, mathematics, reading, science, and writing (optional)

How many questions are asked?
English: 75
Mathematics: 60
Reading: 40
Science: 40

Total: 215

When was the ACT first administered?
Fall 1959

In how many states is the ACT administered?
50

Since when has the ACT been a 50-state exam?
1960

In how many states do more than 50 percent of high school graduates take the ACT?
27

At what U.S. colleges and universities are ACT scores accepted?
All of them

Can students with disabilities take the ACT?
Yes

Can students take the ACT outside the 50 United States?
Yes

Other Frequently Asked Questions about the ACT

How much does it cost to take the ACT?
The 2011–2012 basic registration fee is $34.00, which includes score reports for up to four college choices. The basic registration fee for the ACT Plus Writing is $49.50.

How long does the test take?
Just over 4 hours for the ACT without the Writing Test, including administration instructions and breaks. Actual testing time is 2 hours and 55 minutes, broken down as follows:

English: 45 minutes
Math: 60 minutes
Reading: 35 minutes
Science: 35 minutes

The ACT Writing Test adds 30 minutes to the testing time.

When are the test dates?
In the U.S., U.S. territories, Puerto Rico, and Canada, the ACT is administered on six national test dates: in September, October, December, February, April, and June. Internationally, the ACT is administered on all test dates except September.

How do students benefit from taking the ACT?

  • The ACT is universally accepted for college admission.
  • The ACT is curriculum based. The ACT is not an aptitude or an IQ test. Instead, the questions on the ACT are directly related to what students have learned in high school courses in English, reading, mathematics, and science. Because the ACT tests are based on what is taught in the high school curriculum, students are generally more comfortable with the ACT than they are with traditional aptitude tests or tests with narrower content.
  • The ACT is more than a test. The ACT also provides test takers with a unique interest inventory that provides valuable information for career and educational planning and a student profile section that provides a comprehensive profile of a student’s work in high school and his or her future plans.
  • The ACT is a good value. As a private, not-for-profit organization governed by educators, ACT is committed to providing services at the lowest possible cost. Accordingly, the ACT provides a comprehensive package of educational assessment and career planning services for college-bound students at a fee that is lower than the fee for the competing admission test.

How often can students take the ACT?
A student may take the ACT no more than twelve times total and only once per national test date. Many students take the test twice, once as a junior and again as a senior.

Does it help to take the ACT more than once?
ACT research shows that of the students who took the ACT more than once:

  • 57% increased their composite score on the retest
  • 21% had no change in their composite score on the retest
  • 22% decreased their composite score on the retest