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American College Testing (ACT)

An overview of the ACT exam

What is the ACT?

The American College Testing (ACT) is a standardized test widely used in admissions to US universities.

The ACT comprises four compulsory sections: English, Math, Reading and Science. The ACT Essay is optional though some top universities consider it essential in your application. ACT Essay scores are reported separately from overall test scores.

What is on the ACT?

SECTIONNo. of QuestionsTotal Time (min)
English7545
Math6060
Reading4035
Science4035
Writing (Essay - Optional)140

When should i take the ACT?

US Universities

All first-year applicants
Most Transfer applicants

NUS Medicine & NUS Dentistry

Applicants with IB Diplomas

NUS Law

Applicants with a C grade or lower for:
H1 General Paper; or
H2 Knowledge & Inquiry

SMU & UniSIM

Applicants without any of the following:
A-Level / IB
NUS High Diploma
Polytechnic Diploma

When should I take the ACT?

We recommend that students start preparing for the ACT at least 3 months prior to the exam. More information on how to register for the ACT can be found here.

upcoming ACT Date

10-11 June, 2022

last ACT Date 2022

15-16 july, 2022

Registration Deadline

13 MAY, 2022

Registration Deadline

17 june 2022

An Insight Into The ACT Exam

What is tested on the ACT?

 

English

Five total passages with questions on grammar, punctuation, standard English conventions and rhetorical skills.

 

Reading

A total of four passages, each testing ten questions. The passages are taken from four main discursive modes of writing: history, literature (narrative prose), natural science and the social sciences.

 

Writing

One prompt with a time limit of 40 minutes. Students are required to take a stance on a broad social issue and write an argumentative essay taking into consideration up to three given perspectives.

 

Mathematics

There are 60 total questions, testing algebra, geometry, statistics, functions and trigonometry. A calculator is allowed throughout the test.

 

Science

There are six total passages, asking questions on data representation, research summary and conflicting viewpoints. Most questions test visual data analysis.

REGISTERING FOR THE ACT

How do I register for the ACT?

1

Sign in to your free ACT account. If you don’t have an account, you should register for a new one here.

2

Provide your full name and other identifying information — this must be exactly the same as seen on your photo ID.

3

Select your preferred test date and testing center. Click here to find a test center near you.

4

Choose whether you want to take the ACT with or without the Essay.

5

Upload a photo ID that meets ACT’s specific photo requirements.

6

Check out, and print your Admission Ticket. Bring this with you on the test day.

What if I miss the deadline to register?

If you missed the regular ACT registration deadline, you can still register during the late registration period.

The late registration period typically extends for 14 days following the regular registration deadline. For the latest information, visit here.

You will have to pay a late registration fee of US$29.50 (on top of the regular registration fee).

The late registration process is the same as the regular registration process. See our instructions above on how to register for the ACT exam.

ACT Scoring

What is a superscore?

If a college superscores the ACT, it will take your highest Math, Science, Reading, and English scores that you achieved on any of the dates you took the test. ​

Then, it will average these together for a new composite so that you’ll end up with your highest possible composite score.

April

English Score: 32
Math Score: 25
Reading Score: 28
Science Score: 33

Composite Score: 30

June

English Score: 28
Math Score: 32
Reading Score: 34
Science Score: 30

Composite Score: 31

Superscore

English Score: 32
Math Score: 32
Reading Score: 34
Science Score: 33

Super Score: 33

UNDERSTANDING YOUR SCORE

What score should I aim for?

The ACT gives you a percentile ranking for your overall score (out of 36). Your percentile rank tells you how you did on the ACT compared to other test-takers. For example, if you have a percentile ranking of 90, it means that you scored higher than 90% of other students who took that test.

For most competitive universities, we recommend trying to score at least within the 95th percentile.

Composite Score Range

33 - 36

32

31

30

29

28

27

26

25

24

23

Percentile Ranking

99

98

97

95

93

90

87

83

79

74

68

ACT vs SAT

What are the differences between the SAT and the ACT?

Both tests are accepted by most universities in the US. However, as they have slight differences, it is recommended that candidates should take the test they would fare better in.

Should you be unable to decide which test might be more suitable for you, a good way to gauge your expertise is to attempt a full length practice test for both. IvyPrep offers free diagnostic tests for both the SAT and ACT. Upon completion of the tests, a detailed score report would be generated to assist with your decision in which test you should sit for.

Here are some key differences between the SAT and ACT:

 SATACT
ScoringComposite score of 400 - 1600Composite score out of 36 (average of all 4 sections)
FormatPaper and PencilComputerized
DatesOffered five times a year:
March
May
August
October
December

Offered seven times a year:
February
April
June
July
September
October
December
Math formulasGeometry formulas are providedTo be memorized
Calculator policyAllowed in one Math sub-sectionAllowed in Math section
Science sectionNoYes

Should I take the SAT or the ACT?

The types of questions in each section of the SAT and the ACT vary. Ultimately, the best way to know which test is a better fit for you is to attempt both. Click here to schedule a free SAT and/or ACT Diagnostic Test.

The key differences in concepts tested on the SAT and the ACT are here:

 SATACT
ReadingQuestions are always in chronological order; a number line is provided. You are given approx. 13 minutes per passage.Questions are not in chronological order — being able to remember the location of exact details in passages gives you an advantage. You are given approx. 8 minutes per passage.
WritingMore focused on questions about writing style, language precision and vocabulary.More focused on grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and big idea questions.
MathFocus on Algebra, along with other topics such as Data Analysis and Modeling.
Wider range of Mathematical concepts — such as logarithms, graphs of trigonometry functions, and matrices.
ScienceNo Science section. Scientific data and passages present in Reading and Writing sections.Comfort with scientific terms and experience gathering scientific data from charts and graphs will give you a greater advantage on the ACT.
EssayNo longer offered after June 2021.Analyze three perspectives on an issue and present your own.