ACT: American College Testing: Online Competitive Encyclopedia

ACT is conducted by a non-profitable organization named American College Testing. This is a test required for admissions in undergraduate schools in the US and Canada. The test evaluates the scientific, written, mathematical and verbal skills of the candidate. There is no negative marking for an incorrect answer. Initially, ACT was a pen-paper based exam, but in 2015 it was offered as a computer-based examination.


The exam is primarily for high school students, so the minimum age limit is 13 years.

Fee Structure-

  • Registration Fee – It will cost $150 if you do not opt for writing test (optional) and $166.50 if you opt for writing test.
  • International Fees – This is chargeable to all international students as they will be taking this exam outside of the US. It will cost around $51.
  • Late Fee – This fee is charged if the student registers after the deadline. It will cost $35.
  • Waitlist Fee- This is charged if the student registers after the late registration deadline, and the amount payable is $51.
  • Change fee- If you wish to change the test date, centre or type, you will have to pay $35.
  • TIR fee- If you wish to see what mistakes you have made, ACT will charge $20 and send you the test questions and correct answers after the exam.



The grammar, punctuation and proper sentence formation will be tested under usage mechanics, and how well a student can grasp a passage is tested under the rhetorical section.


This section examines the student’s reading ability through passages- social science, natural science, humanities and literary fiction.


The section accesses the candidate’s knowledge of formulas, concepts and mathematical basics. The questions are asked from:

  1. Pre-Algebra: factors, primes, multiples, number problems, divisibility, fractions, ratios, mean, median, mode, place values, absolute values etc.
  2. Elementary algebra: Linear equations, substitutions, simplifying expressions, inequalities, multiplying binomials, and quadratic equations.
  3. Intermediate algebra: Logarithms, functions, matrices, inequalities, sequences and patterns and complex numbers.
  4. Coordinate Geometry: Graphing inequalities, distance and mid-points, number lines, slope calculation, Trigonometry and statistics.
  5. Fundamental Skills: ratio and percentages, surface areas, median etc.


This section mainly comprises the questions from Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences. The questions are mostly asked in tables, charts and graphs form.

  • Data Interpretation
  • Scientific investigation
  • Preliminary inferences model and result


This section is optional. This section will test the articulation, writing and coherence of the student. Here the students have to

Minimum Score Required-

ACT will gauge the students on a scale of 1 to 36 points, and the scorecard is valid for 5 years after the testing year.  The minimum composite score (average) of all four sections has to be 21. The writing score (optional) doesn’t affect the composite score. Students taking the writing score will get the scorecard ranging from 1 to 36 separately.

How to prepare-

  • If you are new to this domain of quantitative aptitude and verbal reasoning, then professional guidance is a must.
  • You will have access to better study material and a team of experts to guide you.
  • The coaching ambience will help you stay motivated as you will be around other students preparing for the ACT.

  • If you are quite confident about preparing without any supervision, then self-study is a good option.
  • Choose the best books available to ace this examination.
  • Discipline and consistency is important.

Other tips and bits of advice:

  • Check the syllabus properly and prepare according to the syllabus.
  • Make a study plan.
  • Give equal preference to all the sections.
  • To have a better understanding of the pattern, go through sample papers.
  • Take some practice tests.
  • Be consistent and self-disciplined.

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Anirudh Gupta
IIT Delhi Computer Science CBSE Class 12 - 94.2% RMO Awardee
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