To complete the ACT, one requires good mental stamina, endurance, and patience. You have to answer 215 multiple-choice questions by subject area—a testing style that causes fatigue for many students.
The usual four-section (English, Math, Reading, Science) ACT is already long, but how much longer does it get when you add on the Writing test?
In this article, you'll find out just how long the ACT is, along with some steps you can take to deal with its enormous length.
How Long Is the ACT Including Writing
If students take the ACT with Writing, each section’s time (English, Math, Reading, Science, and Writing) sums up to a total of three hours and 35 minutes of test sections (excluding breaks).
On the contrary, the total time of the ACT without Writing is only two hours and 55 minutes. The exemption to this rule is when an extra 20-minute unscored section ("Experimental" in the above chart) added to the ACT without Writing, increasing the total test time to three hours and 15 minutes.
What is the Time Required For the ACT Plus Writing Test-Taking Experience?
You cannot understand the whole picture just by knowing the amount of time each section takes. To understand the complete concept of how long the ACT with Writing is, you also have to account for breaks.
Check out below, and we have added the two breaks that occur during the ACT Plus Writing Test:
When breaks are introduced, the ACT Plus Writing takes a total of three hours and 50 minutes. Including breaks but without Writing, the ACT is only three hours and five minutes long or three hours and 25 minutes long if you have to take the experimental section.
Some students hate the breaks in-between sections. But breaks indeed make the test longer because of this, and students have you to keep their brain in test mode for a longer time.
Breaks are also beneficial. During the breaks, you'll be able to use the restroom and also get the chance to relax your mind shortly. These sometimes lead to a higher ACT score since you won't lose time running to the restroom mid-section, for instance, which will then save you time by making it unnecessary to retake the test.
Be aware that appointees seldom forget about breaks or unexpectedly cut the breaks short. The interval between Math and Reading and between Science and Writing is your right as a test taker.
If you think that the break will be shorter than the maximum time or get skipped over altogether, be sure to request a break.
ACT Plus Writing Test With Extended Time
If you get extended time on school tests or think you might need more time on the ACT, there are a few different adjustments that allow you to have more time.
National Extended Time for ACT Plus Writing will give you six total hours, including breaks for the ACT Plus Writing. If you get selected for Special Testing time, you may receive even more time which depends on your diagnosis and the necessary adjustments.
5 Important Tips to Deal With the ACT Test Length
Let’s assume you don’t get extended time on the test, and the ACT is still pretty long. So how can you prepare for such a lengthy test? Check out our essential tips.
1. Mentally Prepare Yourself
Completing the ACT is a big task. Some students have naturally higher endurance and great mental stamina than others, but every student still needs to train. In the ACT, you'll need to start by practicing questions on individual sections, move up to taking entire sections at once, and finally work your way up to taking whole, timed ACT practice tests (including breaks).
2. Work More and More on Your Practice Tests
It's simply not sufficient to practice taking a full-length ACT with Writing. If you want to know how you'll do on test day, you have to take practice tests under the same environment or somewhat close conditions that you'll have on test day. This means you should wake up early on a Saturday morning to take your practice test at 8 am and sit in a quiet place to take it. It also includes following all-time restrictions and breaks on the test.
Remember, always practice using a non-mechanical pencil, particularly on the Writing test. The more closely you can imitate actual testing conditions, the better prepared you'll be for the ACT.
3. Make Sure to Use the Breaks Effectively
Breaks are essential for your mind and body. Breaks help you to calm your mind and relax your hyperactive body. Get up and walk around, maybe go to a park or watch nature. This will help you increase your energy levels and have a significant impact on your mood.
Bring a snack and water so you can refresh yourself quickly.
After all your activities, get back to your seat at least two minutes before the test resume focus and reenter a test-taking mindset.
If you are very anxious during tests and you're worried that getting up and moving might break your concentration, try to at least do some stretches in your seat.
Just relax your body or shake out or stretch your hands and arms. This is very important, especially before the Writing test, as your fingers can get poky from holding your pencil too tightly. You can also roll around your head and loosen your neck to release any tension so that you can perform better.
4. Get Necessary Sleep Several Nights Before Test Day
Students fail to understand that it's not just the night before the test day that matters—please remember to make sure you have a solid night's rest two and three nights before the ACT. Because how well you rest matters for your future success, which can make a big difference. A stormy night's sleep catches up to you a couple of days later rather than the next day! I recommend getting proper rest and about eight or nine hours of sleep a night, just enough to make you feel better the other day.
5. Eat a Healthy Breakfast the Morning of the Test
Please avoid a heavy breakfast or a sugar crash, which might make you feel lethargic or upset your stomach during the ACT; you also don't want to faint because you didn't eat anything that morning.
So what should you do? Eat a healthy, balanced breakfast that isn't too heavy or too sugary.
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