The American College Test (ACT) is a multiple-choice test taken on paper with an optional essay section. It's used primarily in the U.S. to assess readiness for college, making it a good choice if you are looking for practice.
The ACT is split into four sections: English, math, reading, and science. Please note that the optional essay section is not used for CTY qualification. The entire test takes around three to four hours with a short break after the second section.
This section is 45 minutes long and contains 75 questions that assess English skills and understanding of meaning. These questions are multiple-choice analyses of written passages, asking you to determine the parts of speech at play or showcase your language skills.
This section is 60 minutes long and contains 60 questions that assess quantitative skills. These questions are a variety of multiple-choice math problems, ranging from solving algebraic equations to evaluating probabilities. ACT-approved calculators may be used during this section.
This section is 35 minutes long and contains 40 questions that assess reading comprehension. These questions are multiple-choice analyses of both shorter and longer written passages, asking you to identify key ideas, how they are presented, and which writing structures are at play.
This section is 35 minutes long and contains 40 questions that assess critical thinking and reasoning skills that support work in life sciences. These questions are multiple-choice evaluations of data and research, tasking you with interpreting results and comparing viewpoints.
Results from the ACT will include scores for each section as well as a composite score for the whole test, all on a range of 1–36.
If you’d like a sense of what to expect on the ACT, you can find resources on the ACT website. There are also many sample tests and practice guides available online and in print.
- Don’t panic! Remember, this is a test designed for older students and you are not expected to know all the answers. If you feel stressed, take a moment to relax. Close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.
- If you get stuck, don’t be afraid to guess—there’s no penalty for wrong answers on the ACT. If you don’t have enough time to finish, use the last minute of each test section to fill in any remaining answers.
- If you have extra time, go back and check your answers. Trust your instincts, though—only change your answers if you are certain you got them wrong the first time.
U.S. and international students: $55 USD; $70 USD with essay