All four-year colleges and universities in USA and over 225 universities outside USA accept ACT scores. ACT was introduced as a competitor to SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) in 1959 and has since become more popular. However, most colleges accept both ACT and SAT scores.

ACT is a multi-choice, written test that is conducted by ACT Inc. and tests the applicant’s skills in English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. The test contains the following sections:

  • The 45-minute English test covers grammar, and writing skills
  • The 60-minute Mathematics test includes algebra, geometry, and trigonometry
  • The 35-minute Reading test evaluates the ability to understand and interpret prose passages
  • The 35-minute Science test has three different formats: Data Representation, Research Summary, and Conflicting Viewpoints
  • If you opt to take the Writing Test too, add another 40 minutes to your test time.

With 2 hours 55 minutes to answer a total of 215 questions, that’s less than a minute per question. So this test is all about thinking on your feet and being alert and quick. And that can be acquired with practice and discipline. There are ample practice sessions and such help available online. ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36 points. Your composite score is the average of your scores in the 4 sections, which is also on the same scale. So you need to score consistently in all sections. The writing test score gets evaluated separately. 

Today universities are flooded with applications with only a marginal increase in admission facilities, so they tend to rely on ACT scores to screen applicants. So admission officers at colleges review this standardized ACT score along with high school grades, classes taken, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities and admission interviews. In such a scenario where most students will have all the mentioned pre-requisites in place, it is the ACT score that can be a decider for acceptance at a college. Besides, the ACT score is important to the colleges too because the admitted students’ ACT scores will be integrated in their annual ACT statistics and thus elevate their place. 

However, just having a good ACT score will not be an assurance of admission but it can be a decisive factor in a competitive arena.

To stand a winning chance at any of the Ivy League schools, an ACT score of at least 30 is necessary. Reputed colleges like Harvard require an ACT score of 32-35, at Stanford, it is 31-35 and at Berkley, it is 31-34. Most other colleges expect an above-average score of 21 or higher.

So your ACT score is very important. In fact, be proactive and check the required ACT scores at the colleges that you intend to apply so that you have a target to focus on. Plan to take the test in advance so that you have ample time to take a re-test in case your scores aren’t up to the mark.

The best thing about the ACT exam is you can take it as many as 12 times. So while you may run out of time to meet college application deadlines because of your ACT scores, you can still defer applying till you are satisfied with your ACT scores. 

The ACT exam is administered seven times annually, in February, April, June, July, September, October, and December. Registrations usually close five weeks before each ACT exam date.

Registrations usually close five weeks before each ACT test date. For more information and to locate International Test Centers, click here.

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