ACT has four test sections: English, Math, Reading, and Science- total duration of 3 hours. The writing section is optional and adds another 40 minutes to the total duration. It is an MCQ (multiple choice questions) based test with 215 questions in total. The scores on every section vary from a low of 1 to a high of 36. The total test score is an average of all section scores.
English: This section contains 5 passages for a total of 75 multiple-choice questions. The questions are detail-based or overall idea/big-picture based, in relation to a particular paragraph or the whole passage.
The two skills that are tested primarily are Usage and Mechanics and Rhetorical Skills. Usage and Mechanics test you on your understanding of grammar rules (usage, punctuation, and sentence structure). Rhetorical Skills deal with your abstract understanding or comprehension of the passage.
1. Pre-Algebra: comprises of 20-25% of the total questions. It includes number problems, multiples/factors/primes, divisibility, percentages, fractions, square roots, ratios, mean/median/mode, probability, place values, absolute values, exponents, series, simple descriptive statistics.
2.> Elementary Algebra: comprises of 15-20% of the total questions. It includes substitution, simplifying expressions, solving linear equations, inequalities, multiplying binomials, solving quadratic equations.
3.> Intermediate Algebra: comprises of 15-20% of the total questions. It includes solving systems of equations, functions, matrices, logarithms, inequalities, sequences and patterns, complex numbers.
4.> Coordinate Geometry: comprises of 15-20% of the total questions. It includes number lines, graphing inequalities, distance and mid-points, slope calculation, parallel/perpendicular lines, line equation, conic sections.
5. Plane Geometry: comprises of 20-25% of the total questions. It includes lines and angles, triangles, polygons, circles, 3-D geometry, volume, properties of circles, triangles, and parallelograms.
6.> Trigonometry: comprises of 5-10% of the total questions. It includes solving triangles, trigonometric identities, and graphs, graphing trigonometric functions, solving trigonometric equations.
Reading: This section contains 4 passages for a total of 40 multiple-choice questions. The passages will represent four broad areas: social science, humanities, natural science, and literary fiction.
Reading skills are varied and include the ability to understand central ideas, locate details within a written text, decoding the flow of ideas, understanding cause/effect and comparisons, contextual understanding of phrases, and analyzing the tone and purpose of the author.
Science: This section contains 7 passages for a total of 40 multiple-choice questions. The passages are frequently accompanied by diagrams such as tables, charts, and graphs. The topics that are tested revolve around Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Earth Sciences.
The skills required to ace this section have more to do with the kind of reasoning developed while learning the scientific method rather than just the raw memorization of facts and figures. Knowledge of the theory behind hypothesis testing and the ability to collect and analyze data are important skills when it comes to the Science section.
Data Representation questions test you on your ability to decipher graphs/scatter-plots/tables, along with your ability to use the presented information. Research Summaries test you on your understanding of the design-of-experiments and associated results as described in the passage. Conflicting Viewpoints gauges your ability to analyze divergent viewpoints. The questions revolve around a central idea, and you need to critically examine the two viewpoints presented.
Writing (Optional): The cogency of an essay is paramount for the ACT. The ability to assimilate different lines of reasoning and stitch it into a coherent and compelling written piece will earn you a high score. Given the time constraint, a well-polished first draft is expected and not a technically perfect written specimen.
A short passage is given on a certain topic, which is accompanied by 3 different viewpoints on the same. Your task is to analyze the viewpoints, elucidate their merits/demerits, identify flaws in reasoning (if any), discuss caveats, contrast one argument against the others and discuss the scope of improvements.
|Section||Number of Questions & Time Limit||Content / Skills Covered||Questions Type|
|English||75 Questions in 45 Minutes||Grammer & usage, punctuation, sentence structure, strategy, organization, and style||Four-choice, multiple-choice usage / mechanics and rhetorical skills questions.|
|Maths||60 Questions in 60 Minutes||Pre-algebra, elementry algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, and trignometry||Five -choice, Multiple-choice questions|
|Reading||40 Questions in 35 Minutes||Reading Comprehension of what is directly stated or implied||Four-choice, multiple-choice referring and reasoning questions|
|Science||40 Questions in 35 Minutes||Interpretation, analysis, evaluation,reasoning and problem solving||Four-choice, multiple -choice data representation,research summaries, and conflicting viewpoints questions.|
|Writing (Optional)||1 Essay in 40 Minutes||Writing Skills||Essay prompt|