ACT Test

Eligibility | Dates | Pattern | Syllabus

Last Updated on 12th October, 2021

The ACT originally an abbreviation of American College Testing is a standardized test used for admission in colleges in the United States and Canada. It is currently being administered by ACT, a non-profit organization with the same name. It is an international test for undergraduate admission.

The ACT examination is developed to evaluate a candidate’s written, verbal, mathematical, and scientific knowledge and skills. Several other renowned colleges and universities also accept the test scores of ACT in other countries. In the ACT examination, the paper is divided into four sections – English, Maths, Science, and Reading. It also has an optional writing section. The duration of the exam is four hours.

The examination is conducted a few times a year between September to July. Ideally, aspirants are recommended to register two to three months before their chosen date of examination. It is safer to stick to early registrations as the aspirant has a set schedule to prepare for the examination.

Exam Highlights
Level of Exam Under Graduate, International Level
Exam Medium English
Exam Frequency For US and Canada students 7 times a year, for others 5 times a year
Purpose of the Exam This test is required to be taken by students looking for admission in undergraduate schools based in the US and Canada.
Conducting Body ACT, Inc

ACT Test Eligibity Criteria

  1. Nationality
  2. Any student can apply for the ACT test irrespective of the country he/she comes from. As the Exam is conducted globally, there is no such eligibility criteria or restriction in terms of nationality.

  3. Educational Qualification
    • ACT has no minimum or maximum academic qualification to appear for the test.
    • However to be eligible to get admission Undergraduate course the candidate should be a high school graduate from a recognized learning institution or university.

    Apart from that

    • The applicant must be having a valid international passport as it serves as a valid identification proof.
    • The ACT examination has no age, grade restriction, however, the candidate is required to be in possession of an International Debit/Credit card to register for the examination.

  4. Age Limit
    • The minimum age of the candidate to appear in the ACT exam should be 13 years.
    • There is no upper age limit.

  5. Restrictions on Attempts
  6. The candidate may take the exam no more than twelve times within a rolling 12-month period.

ACT Test Important Dates

Event Date
Starting Date of Application To be notified
Last Date of Application To be notified
  • For US Students: ACT is conducted 7 times in a year i.e. February, April, June, July, September, October and December. The registration process starts about 15-20 days earlier of the test date.
  • For Other Students: ACT is conducted 5 times in a year i.e. April, June, July, September, October. The registration process starts about 15-20 days earlier of the test date.

ACT Test Pattern

The ACT has four subject areas – English, Reading, Maths, and Science. It also has a fifth optional Writing section candidates appearing for this section are given extra 40 minutes to complete the exam along with the total time of 2 hours and 55 minutes scheduled time of the exam.

The test results of the ACT examination are typically released within eight weeks of the test administration. The results can be viewed online. If the candidate takes the ACT with the written test, then their results are posted online as soon as they are ready. This is usually two weeks after the general scores are out.

Pattern for ACT Standardized Test

Each section of the ACT (English, Maths, Reading, and Science) is scored on a 1 to 36 point scale. The composite score is the average score of all the four sections – the writing score is not included in the composite score. The total score of the ACT is valid for five years after the testing year in which the candidate has tested.

Sl. No. Name of the Paper/Section Nature Nos. of Questions Question Type Duration Negative Marking Marks
1 English

The motive of this section is to test the candidate’s editing, omitting, revising and rephrasing abilities.

Merit Ranking Nature 75 Objective (Multiple Choice) 45 mins
2 Reading

The objective of this section is not to test the English language but to test the logical reasoning, analysing the relationship of text using significant details, evidence and understanding the sequence of the events.

Merit Ranking Nature 40 Objective (Multiple Choice) 35 mins
3 Maths

In this section, examinees are asked two types of 12-th grade questions – complex and straight forward.

The former will test your skills of demonstrating fluency, applying various concepts, solving complex problems and understanding connections.

Merit Ranking Nature 60 Objective (Multiple Choice) 60 mins
4 Science

In this section, vivid skills of the candidate are tested, including evaluation, analyses, interpretation, reasoning and problem-solving. Only basics are required as opposed to advanced knowledge in the science test.

Merit Ranking Nature 40 Objective (Multiple Choice) 35 mins
5 Writing (Optional)

Through this section, the candidate’s writing skills are judged.

Merit Ranking Nature 1 Descriptive 40 mins

ACT Test Syllabus

Syllabus for ACT Standardized Test

1 English

The English test has four to five essays and passages, and questions are asked based on those.

The questions will be mentioning the paragraphs mentioned earlier, and the candidates will be presented with four options to pick the correct one out of them. Some questions might also have the option of ‘no error.’

Usage / Mechanism

  • Punctuation
  • Grammar and usage
  • Sentence structure

Rhetorical Skills

  • Strategy
  • Organization
  • Style

2 Reading

The reading test has four sections – three of which contain one long prose passage and the last section contains two shorter prose passages.

The passages provided will have a relevant topic, source and author and also relevant background information, providing an idea to the idea of the passage.

3 Maths

  • Number and quantity – Real and complex number systems, Numerical quantity reasoning, Rational exponents, Integers, Matrices and vectors.
  • Algebra – Polynomial, Exponential relationships, Linear, Radical, Multiple types of expressions, Graphs and Simple matrix equations.
  • Functions – Notations, Definitions, Linear, Representations and application, Radical polynomial, Piecewise, Logarithmic functions along with graphical representation.
  • Geometry – Surface area, Volume, Shapes, Circles, Missing values in triangles and other shapes, Equations of the conics section and Trigonometric ratios.
  • Statistics and Probability – Bivariate data, Sample space and distributions, Data collection methods and Probability.
  • 4 Science

    The questions are raised from actual scientific scenarios from chemistry, biology, physics geology, earth/space science, astronomy, and meteorology.

    The science test is divided into three sections

    • Scientific investigation (20 – 30%) – involves procedures, experimental tools, controls, variables, designs, comparisons, extensions and modifications related to the field of science.
    • Interpretation of data (45 – 50%) – consists of analysis and manipulation of scientific data, graphs, tables and diagrams.
    • Experimental models, Inferences and Results ( 25 – 35%) – this section involves judgement of scientific information, predictions based on the scientific phenomenon and formulate conclusions


    5 Writing (Optional)

    Candidates will be provided with a topic that is related to any complex issues of the society like political, social, legal or economical domains.


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