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ACT EXAM Overview

The American College Testing (ACT) is an exam that allows students to pursue Undergraduate courses in the USA. Though Canada also asks for ACT scores, the exam is more prevalent in the USA. All students of grade 12 can take the test. The minimum score required to get admission is determined by the university you are applying to. The 2-hour 55 minutes long test analyses your Reading, Mathematics, Science and English skills. There is also an optional Writing section. The test fee can come up to USD 63 (INR 6754). If you wish to know more about the test, the recent updates, eligibility requirements etc., you can read further.

What is the ACT Exam?

The ACT is one of the USA’s most popular college admission tests. ACT Inc., a non-profit organization, conducts it. It is estimated that two million students take the test every year. All 4-year universities and colleges in the USA accept the ACT score. Moreover, all the 225 colleges in the country accept it as well. Some famous universities like the University of Illinois, Oregon State University, Auburn University, Washington State University, University of Massachusetts, New Jersey Institute of Technology etc., have made the ACT score optional. Similarly, the Florida State University, University of Florida, University of Central Florida, University of Georgia, Georgia Institute of Technology etc., have made it mandatory for students to have the ACT score for 2023 admissions.

Latest Updates On ACT Exam 2023 - 24

There are a few things you need to know about ACT before you move forward with your 2023/2024 application. The latest news is listed below:
ACT requirement waived off by universities: ACT will not be required for admissions at Harvard University till the Winter 2026 semester. Those who have taken the test can submit their scores, but it will no longer be a requirement. Simultaneously, the University of California announced on 14 May 2021 that ACT/SAT scores will no longer be a requirement for admission and scholarship. The same will apply from Fall 2021 to Spring 2025 admissions.
ACT made optional by 1500 US colleges: A lawsuit was filed against ACT/SAT tests in 2023 that are discriminatory and biased on race, wealth etc. Following this, almost two-thirds of the institutions in the USA have made ACT/SAT optionally. These include the University of California, Virginia, CalTech, Yale, Columbia, Brown, Carnegie Mellon etc.
MIT reestablishes ACT/SAT scores: ACT/SAT scores will be mandatory for students to take admission to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from Fall 2023.

ACT Frequently Asked Questions

You can send your ACT scores directly to the university once the result is out. You can choose the universities at the time of registration itself.

The ACT scorecard is valid for five years.

The ACT composite score ranges from 1-36.

No, the Writing section does not affect the composite score of the ACT.

The ACT composite result is the average of all four ACT sections.

No, you cannot cancel your test score. However, you can choose not to send your score to the universities/colleges. You can do the same within five days of the test score being released.

The ACT score will be released on the official website. You can log in to your ACT account and download the scorecard.

The ACT result is released within two weeks of taking the test.

Yes, you can reschedule your ACT date by logging into your ACT account. You can make the necessary changes there. However, you should do the same within the late registration deadline.

If you already got a good ACT score, there is no need to have a second attempt. Moreover, you may perform poorly in your second attempt.

The ACT costs USD 150 without the Written test. If you wish to take the Writing test, you must pay an additional USD 16.50.


The ACT exam is not very difficult to attend and pass. However, you have to prepare well and cover the topics well. The ACT exam is more prevalent in the USA and Canada and can be taken as an internet-based test. Proper preparation will help you score better and can also help you determine your strengths and weaknesses. You can enrol for coaching and can also go with self-preparation. Several sample/previous papers are available online, and you can practice with their help. It is a good idea to prepare a test guide so that you can know more about the preparation materials, the average time taken to complete the test etc.

  • There are a few methods by which you can start preparing for the ACT exam. A few techniques are explained below. You can take their help and adopt them if you find them useful.
  • Attend all questions: You should never leave a question unattended in your ACT exam. You will not lose marks for incorrect answers, so it is advisable to answer all questions.
  • Know where you are weak: It is essential that you know the areas in which you are weak and concentrate on them more. This is an excellent strategy to adopt while preparing for the test.
  • Spend time wisely: It is vital to master the art of using time wisely. You should never spend too much time on a question whose answer you are not sure of. It will result in a shortage of time. Answer the questions you are sure about.
  • Identify wrong answers: If you are unsure about the correct answer, a better technique is to rule out the wrong answer. This might help you land the correct answer.
  • Use authentic sources for preparation: Once you start preparing for the test, it is crucial to use original sources for the same. This is applicable both for test preparation and practice papers.
  • Fix a target score: You should fix a target score in your mind while preparing for the test. Your aim should be to get that score. It is also good to note down the cut-off score of leading universities and prepare the target score accordingly.
  • Learn preparation strategies: You can master the test preparation strategies, which include the elimination method, guessing etc.
  • Prepare a study guide: You should make a study guide for yourself and state the topics, the time you should study each topic etc.
  • Make a note of the key points: It is essential to make a note of the key points while you prepare for the test. You can underline them, note them separately, circle them etc.
  • Know the Science passage types: You should know the Science passages properly and prepare for the test accordingly.
  • Use practice papers: You should make use of the practice papers available online. They will help you get an idea of the type of questions that might be asked and also help you know how well you prepare for the test.
  • Learn the instructions by heart: The ACT has several instructions, and it is better to memorise them by heart.
  • Use the online score calculator: There are ways to get an idea of how well you can score on your test. There are several English test score calculators. You will also find test score calculators for Reading and Mathematics.


The American College Testing (ACT) is a test that all high school students must undertake if they wish to study an Undergraduate course abroad. The test is more prevalent in US universities, and all non-native speakers of the English language can take the test. You can register for the exam both online and offline. The test fee can come to around USD 63 (INR 4835), and the score is valid for five years. To pass the test, the average score should be 21. Though it was a paper-based test earlier, it is now an internet-based test outside the USA. The score is measured on a scale from 0-36. The syllabus includes subjects like Reading, Mathematics, English, Science, and an optional writing exam. The test duration is 2 hours and 55 minutes without the writing section and 40 minutes if the writing section is added. You can get the result of the same within 2-8 weeks.

The English test will have four or five essays or passages, and multiple-choice questions will be asked based on them. You will be asked to choose the right answer. There can be options of “No Error” as well. It analyses your ability to omit, edit, revise and rephrase.

The questions here will be similar to the ones for your grade 12. They will be straightforward yet a bit complex. It tests your problem-solving skills, fluency and ability to understand connections.

In the reading section, you will come across long and short prose passages. The passages will have several pieces of information, and you will have to identify them. The section analyses your logical reasoning and interpretation skills. Each passage will have multiple-choice questions as well.

The questions asked here will test your reasoning, interpretation and problem-solving skills. The questions will be based on actual scientific scenarios from Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Astronomy, Geology etc.

This optional section tests your writing skills in English. You will be given any topic related to a complex societal, economic or political problem. You should write an essay on the same and explain the issue with the possible causes, effects and solutions. Your writing will be judged on the following grounds.

  • Organisation: Your ability to organise all your ideas into a form that is easy and engaging at the same time.
  • Analysis and Ideas: Your views on the topic will be tested, and how well you analyse the issue will also be taken into account.
  • Support and Development: How well you present your ideas with the help of diagrams, graphics, and other related information will be tested here.
  • Language Usage: Your language-using capabilities will be analysed here; you have to avoid grammatical and spelling errors and write in a tone that is easy to understand and clear at the same time.


The ACT results are accepted by several colleges and universities in the USA. The score is calculated by taking each section individually. The score will be on a 0-36 scale and published within 2-3 weeks of the exam. The same will be available on the website; you can easily download it and take a printout. You even have the option to send the scores to the universities then and there.

The ACT score is calculated on a scale of 1-36. The ability of a student is measured based on the composite score. It is the average of all the sections. Those attempting the Writing section will receive its score separately. The Writing section score ranges from 2-12 and does not affect the composite score.

  • If you wish to know some highlights of the ACT 2022, they are explained below.
  • The ACT scorecard will be available online through the ACT account created at the time of registration.
  • The overall ACT score will be available only after the score of the Writing section is added.
  • The composite score is the average of all four sections. The score of the Writing section does not affect the composite score.
  • The student report will be released on the ACT account 2-8 weeks after the test.
  • The English, Reading, Science and Maths sections will be on a grade of 1-36.
  • The composite score is on a 1-36 scale, and the Writing section is on a 2-12 scale.

The ACT scores will be released online. You can check the same by logging into the ACT account you created during registration. They are not sent through any other medium like email, message etc. However, you can contact the customer service executive over the phone if you want to know anything about test scores. You must constantly check whether the result is released by logging into your account regularly.

How Is The ACT Scored & Universities

The ACT score is calculated differently for the Writing section and the other four sections. The way the scoring is done is explained below.
For multiple choice questions, one score is awarded for each correct answer, and there will be no negative marks for wrong answers.
For 60 questions, you can get a highest raw ACT score of 60. In the same way, for 40 questions, you can get a highest raw ACT score of 40.
The raw scores will be converted into a scale of 1-36.
This is done to have varying difficulty levels for questions.
The composite score is the average of the scores of all four sections.
The Writing section will be evaluated by two examiners on a scale of 1-6 on domains of development & support, language use & conventions, ideas & analysis, and organisation. The Writing section will be on a score scale of 2-12.
The Writing score does not affect the composite score.
For the ACT exam, it is difficult to distinguish between a good score and a bad score. It is dependent on the university/college you are applying to. The minimum acceptable score varies according to the university, and you should obtain the score they expect to get admission. The average ACT composite score was 20.6 in 2020. To get admission to a university, you must score well above it. The following table offers a list of the ACT score range accepted by some top universities.

UniversityACT Composite Score Range
John Hopkins University33-35
Duke University33-35
Stanford University32-35
Yale University32-35
Harvard University33-35
Massachusetts Institute of Technology33-35
Princeton University32-35
University of California, Berkeley29-34

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