How to Take the ACT

Information and tips on how to succeed on the ACT.


Zane Berg

These booklets are available in the guidance center. They can help you with your college outlook and help you get a better understanding of the ACT.

Zane Berg, Staff Writer

As students approach graduation, many questions fill their brains. Where should I go to college? How do I get into college? How does the ACT even work? Here is the answer to one of those questions.

First, you need to find out when you would like to take the test. The dates for the 2020-2021 school year are October 24 and 25, December 12, February 6, April 17, June 12 and July 17. You can register at the ACT’s official website. Registering is simple. Once you create an account, you can choose whether or not to take the writing portion of the test, in addition to the basic science, math, and reading. Some colleges will only accept your score with a writing portion, but others do not find it necessary.

Once you are registered, you’ll need to prepare to take the test. Remember, the ACT costs $55 without a writing portion and $70 with, so you’ll need to make the most out of the test. That means putting your nose to the grindstone and start studying. The ACT site has many resources to help with study habits. Other websites such as Kaplan also offer tips.

Senior Craig Alan Becker, who has taken the ACT twice, used a practice book to study for his test. Becker said, “stay relaxed,” and “get some sleep the night before.”

On test day make sure you show up on time and bring your #2 pencil. If you chose to do the writing portion, the test will take you three hours and 35 minutes, but if you opt out, it’ll take under three hours. The English portion of the test requires you to answer 75 questions in 45 minutes. The math portion has 60 questions in 60 minutes and science has 40 questions in 35 minutes. The writing section gives you a prompt and asks you to do your best to answer it in 40 minutes.

The test is multiple choice with four choices for English and science and five for math. If you find yourself short on time, it is recommended to skip questions you don’t understand and come back to them later. There is also one break in the middle of testing.

ACT results can be found in your account that you set up earlier to register. Scores can range from 1-36, with the average score being about 21.