Making sense of ACT, out of the alphabet soup of college admission exams

Last Updated On April 4, 2023 By Arikaran Kumar

Many parents of high school students preparing to apply for college, may have heard of the ACT exam. In this blog, I'll discuss what the ACT is, who should take it, why you should consider taking it, and the advantages of taking the ACT exam over the SAT exam. I'll also answer some frequently asked questions about the ACT test.

What is the ACT Exam?

The ACT exam, also known as the American College Testing exam, is a standardized test. The ACT exam was first administered in 1959 as an alternative to the SAT. Today, the ACT is one of the most widely accepted college entrance exams. Colleges and universities in the United States, Canada and several other countries use this test to evaluate students’ academic readiness for college-level work and predict their academic success. Each year, more than two million students worldwide take this test. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions in four subject areas namely English, mathematics, reading, and science.

  1. The English section tests students’ knowledge of grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure.
  2. The mathematics section tests students’ math skills, including algebra, geometry, and trigonometry.
  3. The reading section tests students’ ability to comprehend and analyze written passages, and
  4. The science section tests students’ knowledge of scientific reasoning and problem-solving.

Students have the choice to take an optional writing section.

ACT Exam Structure


No Of Questions

Time Limit


No. of choices



45 min.




60 min.




35 min.


Science skills


35 min.


Writing (Optional)


40 min.

Total MCQ


2 h 55 min.

MCQ + Writing


3 h 35 min.

Who Should Take the ACT Exam?

The ACT is not required by all colleges and universities, but many of the top colleges and universities in the United States require or recommend that students submit the ACT or SAT test scores. Therefore, it is important for students to research the admissions requirements of the colleges and universities in the United States that require the ACT test results and should take the test that is required or recommended by those institutions.

Students who prefer multiple-choice questions over the SAT's more analytical format may prefer the ACT. Typically, students during their junior year in high school who are planning to attend college in the United States or Canada take this test. Some students may take it earlier or later during the senior year.

In addition to high school students, the ACT exam can also be taken by adult learners who are interested in pursuing higher education. The exam is available at testing centers throughout the United States, as well as in many other countries around the world.

In conclusion, we hope that this blog post has provided you with a basic understanding of what the ACT exam is and who might benefit from taking it. The ACT exam is a standardized test that assesses a student's readiness for college and can be used for admission and scholarship decisions. Generally, high school juniors and seniors take the ACT, but some younger students may also choose to take it to gauge their academic progress.

In our next blog post, we will dive deeper into the reasons why one should take the ACT exam. This will include discussing the benefits of taking the exam, such as improving your chances of being accepted into your preferred colleges, qualifying for scholarships, and providing an opportunity to showcase your academic abilities. Additionally, we will also discuss the structure of the exam and provide tips on how to prepare for it. Stay tuned for more valuable information on the ACT exam!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ACT exam used for?

What are the ACT Test Section?

How is the ACT scored?

What is the duration of the ACT?

When should my child start preparing for the ACT? How much Test prep is needed?

Mrs. Emimmal Sekar Proofread this article. Mr. Arikaran Kumar manages the website and the social media outreach.