ACT Exam

This overview includes information to help you prepare for your ACT Test. You’ll find registration details, plus a preview of the types of information that will be covered during the exam itself, long with things you can expect during the day of the exam.

Exam Background and Purpose

The ACT Test is the exam that most U.S. high school students take to assist with admission to a university or college.

Costs and Payment Options

The cost to take the ACT Test without the optional writing exam is $50.50. The cost with the writing section is $67. You can pay using a credit card.


Your school will likely provide registration details, along with information on your test location and time. Otherwise, you can register online at

When to Arrive

In general, you’ll report to your testing location by 8:00 a.m. Double check with your local testing center. If you are late, you won’t be allowed to sit for the exam.

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What to Bring with You:

  • Bring one form of government-issued Identification in English from your city, state, federal agency, or your school. If you bring a school ID, it must be in a hard plastic card format. Electronic IDs cannot be accepted. Note: Your ID must match the name on your test ticket.
  • Your ACT Student Identification Form with your photo. This form needs to be completed by a school official or by a notary public. And neither of these people can be related to
  • Number 2 pencils with good erasers. You will not be allowed to use mechanical pencils or ink pens.
  • A watch. Note: don’t bring a watch with an alarm. This isn’t a requirement. If you don’t bring a watch, the exam proctor will give periodic time updates.
  • A permitted calculator. Some portions of the test will allow you to use a permitted  calculator. Check to see if your calculator qualifies by looking at the ACT Calculator Policy at
  • Snacks or drinks. These can only be used outside the testing room.

What Not to Bring with You on Test Day:

  • Any textbooks or books in any language
  • Scratch paper or notes
  • Any other types of writing instruments other than the required Number 2 pencils
  • Any electronic devices other than your permitted calculator, including cell phones
  • Tobacco

What to Expect During the ACT Test

Test Overview

The ACT is made up of four primary sections, plus an optional section outlined below.

  • English (75 Questions/45 Minutes) — This section is based on five essays. You’ll be asked to answer a group of multiple-choice questions. For example, you might be asked provide word-choice alternatives, make choices to confirm or change word choices for best clarity. You’ll also be asked questions that test your understanding of the topic at hand, as well as content flow, concise word choice, sentence structure, punctuation and usage.
  • Mathematics (60 Questions/60 Minutes) —This reviews your math proficiency, compared to the level of math knowledge general required to take an entry-level college math course. You’ll be assessed on numbers and quantities, algebra, functions, geometry, statistics and probability, along with principles of essential math skills and using tools to solve involved problems. You’ll also be asked questions about modeling, including interpretation/evaluation.
  • Reading (40 Questions/35 Minutes) — This review your ability to pull key information from written text, including confirming ideas, finding key information, understanding event sequences, drawing comparisons, understanding cause-and-effect scenarios, confirming key word meanings, making general conclusions and puling details from multiple texts.
  • Science (40 Questions/35 Minutes) — Covers biology, chemistry, Earth/space science, including meteorology, astronomy and geology, and physics. You’ll be asked to represent data in charts or graphs. You’ll also be asked to review examples of experiments and draw conclusions or interpret findings.
  • Optional – Writing (1 Essay/40 Minutes) — While optional, some colleges or universities you apply to may require or accept it. This section looks at your ability to generate and express your ideas, your skill at supporting your idea or argument, your ability to effectively organize your information so that the material you write is easy to understand, and your use of language and principles of grammar.

Test Scores

In general, your test scores will be first posted online within a few weeks after your test date.

How Can I Prepare for the ACT Test?

We believe that different learning styles require different tools for success.  We have compiled a list of the best study guides, flashcards, and practice tests that we’ve found on the market.  Some of these guides have review videos, for you visual learners out there. Others have practice tests, which have been proven to increase student scores by a whole letter grade (in some cases more than that)!

Top Study Guides:

Best Online Course:

High-Quality Flashcards:

Other Helpful Resources:


Last Updated: September 19, 2023