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A Personalized Approach To ACT Test Prep

Every year, we see more and more students interested in ACT test prep. Though it was once considered an obscure test used primarily by colleges in the South and Midwest, in recent years the ACT’s popularity has skyrocketed.

What Is On The ACT?

The ACT consists of four multiple-choice tests: English (grammar and usage), Math (through Algebra II and Trig), Reading, Science Reasoning, and a so-called Optional Essay—“so-called” because most colleges actually do require it. Unlike the SAT, the ACT tests students in one subject at a time, rather than switching back and forth between them. Additionally, the subjects always appear in the same order (given above).

Each ACT test contains 2 hours and 55 minutes of material, with an additional 30 minutes for the essay. Including orientation and breaks, students should expect the test to take about 4 hours and 15 minutes, or 5 hours including the essay.

ACT test scores range from 1-36 in each subject, and the subject scores are averaged together to create a composite score, also ranging from 1-36. The essay score, which ranges from 2-12, is averaged with the English score.


  • Length: 45 min.
  • Item Types: Five long passages followed by multiple-choice questions dealing with grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, as well as the strategy, organization, and style of the passages.
  • Score: 1-36


  • Length: 60 min.
  • Item Types: Sixty multiple-choice questions which require students to apply concepts from prealgebra through geometry and trigonometry.
  • Score: 1-36


  • Length: 35 min.
  • Item Types: Four long passages, followed by multiple-choice questions testing reading comprehension, and dealing with style, content, and themes.
  • Score: 1-36

Science Reasoning

  • Length: 35 min.
  • Item Types: Seven passages written on a subject dealing with one of the natural sciences, followed by multiple-choice questions. Passages will often include graphs or charts. Questions will ask you to interpret the data presented in the passages, examine the hypotheses developed, and draw conclusion by generalizing from the given information. No calculator is allowed in this section.
  • Score: 1-36

Writing /The Essay

  • Length: 30 min.
  • Item Type: Students are asked to write a short essay that requires them to take a position on an issue and use examples to support their position. Virtually identical to the essay for the SAT.
  • Score: 2-12

National Average Percentiles:

PercentileCompositeEnglishMathReadingScienceCombined English/Writing
50th 20 20 20 20 20 28
75th 24 24 24 25 24 24
90th 28 29 28 30 26 21

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