There are four sections of the ACT that are composed of a series of multiple choice questions; English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The optional Writing section of the ACT consists of one essay prompt. Here are the number of questions in each section and the time limits.
75 questions in 45 minutes. (1.67 questions per minute). Tests standard written English and rhetorical skills.
Here is a list of English ACT strategies from Online Test Prep.
60 questions in 60 minutes. (1 question per minute). Measures skills that have been learned through the 12th grade.
Erik the Red provides a great list of strategies for taking the Math section of the ACT.
40 questions in 35 minutes. (1.14 questions per minute). Measures reading comprehension.
Online Test Prep also provides great strategies for the Reading section here.
40 questions in 35 minutes. (1.14 questions per minute). Measures interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills used in natural science.
1 prompt in 30 minutes. Tests skills learned in high school level English classes and entry-level college composition classes.
Here are a few ways to prepare for the ACT:
Get a test prep book
The Real ACT Prep Guide is a great resource for high school students when preparing for the ACT. It includes five practice tests that have been used prior along with explanations for every right and wrong answer. It also includes test-taking strategies for all of the sections: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and Writing (optional). The book also reviews the formatting and structure of the test and gives tips on how prepare for test day.
To use this book in the most effective way, put yourself in a test-like setting and set a timer when taking each practice test. When you are done taking each section, check over the answers and be sure to understand why you missed what you missed. See if there is a general theme in the questions that you answered correctly and incorrectly. Once you have pinpointed those strengths and weaknesses, you will be able to prepare more for the next practice test.
Sign up for the “ACT question of the day”
Answering a daily ACT question is a great way to keep your mind refreshed on the type of questions that will be asked on the official test. This is also a good option if you don’t have a lot of time to take full practice tests multiple times. ACT.org posts a new ACT Test practice question on their site every day. Each question can come from the English, Mathematics, Reading, or Science section. There are also apps on iPhone and Android that offer daily ACT-like questions.
Refresh yourself on basic skills
The Mathematics section of the ACT can be difficult if you don’t remember any of the basic formulas that you have learned in school. There is not a formula sheet provided during the test, so you will need to refresh your skills beforehand. Erik the Red also provides a list of math rules and formulas that may appear on the ACT. It won’t hurt to look over this list to make sure you are ahead of the game.
Utilize online resources
Advice from Morgan: “The website Sophia.org offers excellent test prep videos that offer great explanations and strategies for taking the test. In my opinion, these videos rival any prep book.”
So check out Sophia.org and ACT.org to see what type of tools and tips they offer. Anything can help!
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