The ACT is used by many colleges to determine admission. Your ACT is important to colleges for two reasons. First, your ACT score shows that you’re academically prepared for college. Second, your ACT score, if you’re admitted, will be incorporated into a college’s annual ACT statistics.

A college’s reputation among its peers, and prospective students, is in part based on the published ACT scores of its students. Schools including Harvard, Stanford and other top universities are often associated with excellence because of the high ACT scores of the students they admit.

The ACT test format 

  • The ACT is a computer and paper-based test
  • It is conducted 7 times a year in the US and Canada and 5 times in other countries, every year
  • The mandatory sections of the ACT are essentially four multiple-choice subject tests in English, mathematics, reading, and science reasoning
  • Subject test scores range from 1 to 36; with all scores always being in integers
  • Each correct answer is worth 1 raw point and there is NO negative marking for wrong answers
  • Duration for each section is as follows:
    • English: 45 mins
    • Math: 60 mins
    • Reading: 35 mins
    • Scientific Reasoning: 35 mins
    • Writing Section: 40 mins

Strategies for ACT exam day

  • Study the direction of each ACT section and get familiar with section directions before the test. On test, day-use your time for the test, not for section directions.
  • Get familiar with the time and number of questions in each section.
  • Bring your watch or timer and set the time 5 minutes early before the end time to review all the answers.
  • Read all the questions of each section first and mark the easy questions.
  • Use the answer booklet if you are not sure of the correct answer. Mark the final answers in the bubble sheet.
  • Avoid leaving marks on the bubble sheets as the machine scores them. Usually, machines cannot distinguish between stray marks and correct answers.
  • Fill the grid-in answers correctly and neatly in the Math Grid-in section.
  • Use #2HB pencil to fill the bubble sheet. 

Strategy to answer the questions – 

  • Review all the questions first in each section. 
  • Mark the easy, difficult and unknown questions. 
  • In the ACT usually, easy questions are preceded by hard questions, answer all the easy questions first. 
  • Read the hard questions at least a couple of times to make sure you understand the question correctly.     
  • Manage your time while test-taking, spend a few moments on easy questions, spend the rest time on hard questions.     
  • Eliminate the incorrect answers so you can narrow down the correct answer selection. 
  • All the questions will have only one correct answer.   
  • There is no penalty for incorrect answers, so Do NOT SKIP the questions guess the correct answers.

To Prepare smartly for the upcoming ACT, download our free e-book “Smart and effective way ACT prep”.