Skip To Main Content

ACT - American College Testing

What Content is on the ACT?

The ACT consists of subject area tests in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science.  The ACT Plus Writing includes the four subject-area tests plus a 30-minute writing test.


You have two options when registering for the ACT.  You can take the ACT or the ACT Plus Writing. Although not all schools require the writing portion, many of the most competitive ones do.  Before deciding which test to take, check with your counselor about schools that require the writing section, or find the information here.


What Do the Sections of the Test Look Like?


English Section - 36 points

  • 45 minutes to read 5 passages and complete 75 questions
  • Multiple-choice format - 4 answer choices for each question
  • Questions that test your knowledge of sentence structure, grammar, usage, and punctuation (about 40 questions)
  • Questions that test your sense of style, strategy, revision, and organization in writing (about 35 questions)

Mathematics Section - 36 points

  • 60 minutes to complete 60 questions
  • Multiple-choice format - 5 answer choices for each question
  • Questions that test your knowledge of pre-algebra and elementary algebra (about 24 questions)
  • Questions that test your knowledge of intermediate algebra and coordinate geometry (about 18 questions)
  • Questions that test your knowledge of plane geometry and, to a lesser extent, trigonometry (about 18 questions)

Reading Section - 36 points

  • 35 minutes to read 4 passages and answer 40 questions
  • Multiple-choice format - 4 answer choices per question
  • Passages that cover four different content areas: prose fiction, humanities, social studies, and natural sciences
  • Questions that test your ability to extract detail, draw conclusions, determine main points and tone, and define vocabulary in context

Science Reasoning Section - 36 points

  • 35 minutes to read 7 passages and answer 40 questions
  • Multiple-choice format - 4 answer choices per question
  • Passages that cover the subject areas of biology, chemistry, earth/space science, and physics
  • Questions that test your ability to analyze charts and graphs (about 15 questions), compare data from multiple experiments (about 18 questions), and scrutinize the viewpoints of two hypotheses (about 7 questions)

Writing Section (Optional) - 12 points

  • 30 minutes to read a short prompt, plan, and write an essay in response to the given prompt
  • Designed to test your ability to argue a position on an issue, to write a focused - and organized - essay, to use logic and detail to support your argument, and to use language efficiently

When Should You Take the ACT?


Pick a test date that is at least two months ahead of the application deadlines of all the colleges and scholarship agencies that you might want to apply to.  Scores for the ACT (No Writing) are normally reported within 3-8 weeks after the test date.  If you take the ACT Plus Writing, scores will be reported only after all of your scores are available, including Writing, normally within 5-8 weeks after the test date.


Advantages to testing in your junior year:

  • You've probably completed the coursework corresponding to the test material.
  • You'll have your test scores and other information in time to help you plan your senior year.  For example, you may decide to take an additional class in an area in which your test score was low.
  • Colleges will know of your interests and have your scores in time to contact you during the summer before your senior year, when many of them are sending information about admissions, course placement, scholarships, and special programs to prospective students.
  • You'll have focused information about yourself and the schools you're considering prior to your campus visits, making your visits more focused.
  • You'll have the opportunity to retest if you feel your scores don't accurately reflect your abilities in the areas tested. 


When is the ACT Administered?


The ACT is administered on six test dates within the United States, U.S. territories, Puerto Rico, and Canada - September, October, December, February, April, and June.  The administration dates and registration deadlines for this school year can be found here.


*Test dates in September, April, and June are offered at West Chicago Community High School District 94 


How Do You Register for the ACT?


Online registration is the fastest method.  You will know immediately if your preferred test center has space for you to test, and you can also print your admission ticket from the website.  How you sign up depends on where and how your plan to test.


Reminder - you need to register by mail only if you are younger than 13 or cannot pay by credit card.

  • If you plan to test at a national or international test center, sign up online by creating or logging in to your ACT Web account.
  • If you missed the late registration deadline, you can request standby testing online. Click here for more information on standby testing. 
  • If you are homebound or confined, cannot find a test center within 75 miles of your home (U.S. and Canada) or in your country (other locations), or you need a Sabbath/Sunday test center and one is not established within 75 miles of your home (or in your country if outside the U.S. or Canada), on all test dates, you can request arranged testing by contacting ACT at (319) 337-1510.

You will need to know Community High School's CEEB code in order to register: 144350.


What are the Current ACT Fees?


ACT (No Writing)


Includes reports for you, your high school, and up to four college choices (if valid codes are provided when you register).


ACT Plus Writing


Includes reports for you, your high school, and up to four college choices (if valid codes are provided when you register).


Late Registration Fee (U.S. or Canada only)

add $30.00


Standby Testing

add $53.00

Refunded if you are denied admission to the test center on test day, or if your registration was canceled due to no photo provided.


Additional information about ACT fees can be found here


Are There Fee Waivers for the ACT?


If you can't afford the registration fee for the ACT (No Writing) or ACT Plus Writing, you may be eligible for an ACT fee waiver. Information about the eligibility requirements and how to request a fee waiver is sent each summer to Community High School District 94. Click here to learn more about ACT fee waiver eligibility.


Can Accommodations Be Provided for the ACT?


ACT is committed to serving students with disabilities by providing reasonable accommodations appropriate to the student's diagnosis. ACT has established policies regarding documentation of an applicant's disability and the process for requesting accommodations. If you currently receive accommodations in school due to a professionally diagnosed and documented disability, you may submit documentation to support a request for one of the following:

  • National Standard Time with Accommodations
  • National Extended Time (50% more time)
  • Special Testing (at school) 

For more detailed information on requesting accommodations, click here.



How Do You Send Your ACT Scores to Colleges & Universities?


You can have your ACT scores sent to other colleges and scholarship agencies after you test, in addition to the ones you selected when you registered or tested.  Requests are processed after your tests have been scored and all scores for your test option - ACT (No Writing) or ACT Plus Writing - are ready.


Note:  Community High School District 94 does not report ACT scores on transcripts, so if you are applying to a college or university that is requesting an official ACT score, you must request it directly through ACT by visiting


How Do You Prepare for the ACT?

  • Make sure you have registered and paid for the right test.
  • Know the test location and how to get there.
  • Get plenty of sleep the night before the test.
  • Eat a healthy breakfast.
  • Don't overload on sugar, caffeine, or energy drinks.
  • Bring a healthy snack for the break to keep you going.
  • Double-check that you have all your materials.
  • Relax - this is only a test.

There are a number of helpful and cost-free resources on ACT's website.


For additional information on preparing for the ACT, click here.