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The ACT is a nationally-recognized college entrance examination available to students as part of the college application process. The exam covers four subject areas: English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. The ACT Plus Writing exam includes an additional Writing section, which some colleges require for admission. To see if your college requires the Writing Test, click here. The exam typically takes 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete with breaks (or just over 4 hours with the optional writing test).
The ACT is created by the ACT, Inc. (originally known as the American College Testing Program), headquartered in Iowa City, Iowa. The ACT was developed according to the:
The ACT is offered nationally in the same five months every year. These months are October, December, February, April and June. In selected states, the ACT is also administered in late September. You can learn about this calendar year’s upcoming ACT test dates here.
There is no set time to take the ACT. Students usually take the exam in the spring semester of 11th grade, because the exam content covers class materials up to that time. Most students find it helpful to have their ACT scores in hand when they begin the application process. In addition, taking the exam during 11th grade leaves ample time for preparation and retakes if your first score is unsatisfactory.
There are three ways you can register for the ACT. The most convenient way is registering online. Paper registration packets are also available at your college counselor’s office. If you have registered for the ACT within the last two years, you can use telephone registration (319-337-1270).
For more information, click here.
The ACT costs $29.00 + $14.00 (optional writing test) + $19.00 (if registered late). Other fees may apply depending upon situation.
For more information, click here.
Your scores will be available online for early viewing about 2 weeks after the test date. There is an $8.00 viewing fee. Paper score reports usually arrive 4-7 weeks after test date at your high school counselor’s office. If you took the Writing Test, your score report will not be mailed until your Writing score has been added to your record. You can view your scores here once they have been uploaded.
If you would like to remove scores from your records, you must submit a letter requesting to delete your score. You must include your name and home address, and you will be sent a form to complete and return to ACT:
P.O. Box 451
Iowa City, IA 52243-0451
Keep in mind also that there is no limit to the number of times you can retake the ACT, and that the colleges of your choice will ONLY see the score you choose to send.
You may take the ACT as often as you like. A separate score record is kept for each administration of the exam. Only the score record from the test date requested will be sent to a college. You can request for more than one test date report to be sent to a college.
The maximum score for each of the four tests is 36. The composite score is the average of the four scores. Students who took the ACT Plus Writing test will receive two additional scores: a Writing score (0-12) and an English/Writing composite score (1-36).
A good score is one that will get you into the college of your choice, so the answer depends on where you want to go to college. The average score is 20. While class rank, extracurricular activities, major, recommendations, essays, and other factors also come into play in college admissions, below is an estimate of what score is needed on the ACT for various colleges:
30 or above
31 or above
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
31 or above
New York University (NYU)*
29 or above
31 or above
30 or above
30 or above
University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA)*
27 or above
University of Colorado*
23 or above
University of Houston
21 or above
University of Southern California (USC)*
29 or above
University of Texas – Austin*
26 or above
*require ACT Plus Writing
Both the ACT and the SAT are nationally administered standardized tests that help colleges evaluate candidates. Most colleges and universities accept both. Below is a chart summarizing the differences:
3 hours, 25 minutes (including the 30-minute optional Writing Test)
3 hours, 45 minutes
4 test sections (5 with the optional Essay, known as the Writing Test)
English, Math, Reading, Science, Writing (optional)
Critical Reading, Math, Writing (includes the Essay), Experimental (unscored)
Reading (ACT) / Critical Reading (SAT)
Reading comprehension passages (vocabulary not tested)
Reading Comprehension and Sentence Completion questions (vocabulary tested)
Science Reasoning (analysis, interpretation, evaluation, problem solving)
Science not included
Math accounts for 1/4 of overall score
Topics Covered: Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry
Math accounts for 1/3 of overall score
Topics Covered: Basic Geometry and Algebra II
Last section (optional);
Not included in composite score
Included into overall score (1/3)
Total composite score of 1-36 (based on average of 4 tests)
4 scores of 1-36 for each test
Total score out of 2400
3 scores of 200-800 for each section
Wrong Answer Penalty
Yes, 1/4 point per wrong answer (except for Math Grid-in questions)
You decide which score to send
Your entire score history will be sent automatically
Because the ACT is an important test for college admissions, it is always best to start preparing as early as possible. This allows more preparation time to achieve score goals. A student should start by the summer before 11th grade, to maximize the effectiveness of our program because there are no distractions such as school homework, projects, exams, or any other school activities. Students should start preparing for the ACT no later than the summer before 12th grade.
The ACT Mathematics Test contains 60 questions covering six content areas: pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry and trigonometry.
Educational consultants counsel students and their families in the selection of educational programs based on the student’s individual needs and talents. The need for an educational consultant can vary based on the student; we recommend starting with arranging a meeting with your counselor as a research base, as they can give you some general information as a starting point for your research. If your school counselors spend many hours counseling the students through the admission process and they have received special training through workshops or if you have access to information through a college career center, then you may not need an educational consultant. You can also approach the career services or counseling departments within the institutions that you are considering applying to. You may want to find out how much they charge ahead of time before committing to a service.
To find out more about scholarships, their availability and requirements, click here. For information on financial aid, click here. You should also ask the companies that your parents are employed at for any scholarship opportunities.
Summer jobs are a great way to earn some money, and they also provide an excellent opportunity to gain experience. Work experience demonstrates your abilities such as time management, responsibility level, character, and leadership potential. Work experience can be anything from paid or volunteer work, after-school or summer program participation, to internships. You should inquire with your parent’s employers for any internships or summer job opportunities. Internships, whether paid or not, give you a first-hand look at specific careers as a way to identify career interests. In whatever programs you participate in, whether if it’s a job, an internship, or helping out at home, your experience is an important way to demonstrate key qualities. The participation in the various activities may even help you find a topic for your college essays. Whatever qualities that you develop by this experience will help you build your resume and enhance your college applications. The summer before your 12th grade is the best time for summer employment, which is why we recommend Testmasters after 10th grade, if possible. You may want to start looking for a summer job in the spring of your 11th grade, which is when most employers start hiring for the summer. Remember, the quality of your experience is much more important than the number of dollars you can earn at any job!
State and community colleges, also known as public colleges, are generally less expensive than private colleges. Public colleges receive funding from their respective states in order to make the cost of education affordable to the greatest number of people. Most states offer in-state residents a significantly lower tuition price. At community colleges, your tuition rate is based on your district. If you live within a particular community college district, you can take courses for a lower price than students who live outside of the district.
Private colleges, on the other hand, do not receive the same type of funding, so they rely more heavily on tuition, endowments, and other private sources of revenue. Private colleges are usually more expensive than public colleges, but may offer smaller class sizes or additional scholarships and grants that are not available at public schools.
Your decision on which school to attend or even to narrow down your search to generally depends on the following two criteria: money (scholarships and financial aid) and your choice of major(s). If you know your major then you should apply to the best school for that major that you can get into. If you are unsure of your major, then you should apply to a very well-rounded school, where you can explore different career options and fields of study. Only you can decide which institutions are right for you, based on your specifications and the programs that you are interested in. Remember to do as much research as possible to make a well-informed choice.
Dual Degree Programs differ from university to university. In general, universities may offer a Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree in your field of study in a shorter amount of time than if you pursued the two degrees independently (varies by university). They may also offer different variations such as offering an Associate Degree and Bachelor’s Degree or two different Master’s Degrees.
Students who successfully complete the program earn two degrees: Associate and Bachelor’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s, or Master’s and Master’s (depending on which degrees you pursue and what options the school offers). With the Dual Degree Program, one year of school and its financial costs are saved; also, having two degrees will give you an edge in the interview process when applying for employment over other candidates.