Last Updated: July 14, 2021

ACT FAQ

The ACT test is written by high school students who wish to attend college/university as a competitive exam. This exam lets students with average GPAs balance out their applications and thus procure admission to a college of their choice. The exam also lets colleges access the skill sets of a student by looking at the score range thereby getting a better idea of what the student is capable of rather than relying on a GPA that could have been affected over the years through various reasons. Considering the magnitude of the exam, it is natural to have a lot of questions about the same. This page contains a list of frequently asked questions along with their answers that can make it easier for candidates to navigate.

What are the methods in which a candidate can register for ACT?

ACT has its own official online registration portal which is the most preferred method. But registration can also be done by standard mail.

How long does the online registration take?

ACT estimates that the registration process might take around 30 minutes in all if the candidate has all the necessary documents in hand.

What should a candidate have to register online?

Candidates should have a headshot photo, high school code, high school course information, and a credit card for online payment.

What is the eligibility criteria for ACT?

There is no eligibility criteria for ACT.

When can candidates apply for ACT?

ACT is usually taken by students in their junior year or senior year. It is preferred that students take the exam in the junior year since then they will have ample opportunities of retaking the test if they want to improve their grades.

How many ACT exams are conducted in a year?

The ACT exam is conducted 7 times nationally in the months of September, October, December, February, April, June, and July. Find test dates in the following link.

What is the ACT score range?

The highest mark that can be obtained in the ACT is 36 and the lowest is 1.

Does ACT have negative marking?

No, ACT does not have negative marking.

What is an average ACT score?

An average ACT score would be around 21 out of 36. This is subject to variation from year to year.

What is the duration of the ACT exam?

The ACT exam is conducted in 2 hours and 55 minutes. An additional 40 minutes is given for those who are taking the optional Writing Test.

When is the ACT score released?

Candidates will be able to view the composite score between the second and third week after the test. Writing test scores will take an additional two weeks after which they will receive their official score report.

When will colleges receive the score report?

Colleges will receive the report around the same time when the writing score will be released. This can take around four to ten weeks after the test.

Is the ACT exam in paper-format?

Unlike SAT, ACT is conducted completely online. It is a computer-based test.

What is the fee for ACT?

The ACT exam fee is just $55 without the optional Writing test and $70 if the Writing test is included.

Since when can candidates take the ACT exam?

ACT exam can be taken by anyone above 13 years of age. Students from 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th-grade levels are permitted to take the test though they should preferably take the PreACT at the time.

How many questions will be asked in the ACT exam?

The ACT exam consists of 215 questions spread over four sections in the paper. These questions are mostly in the multiple-choice format, but it also contains grid-in questions in the mathematics section.

Can candidates cancel their ACT score? Will the fee be refunded?

The ACT exam scores can be canceled with immediate effect if the candidate tells the proctor to void their score. This ensures that the test will not even be graded.
No, the fee will not be refunded. Since the exam has already been held, not grading it because the candidate chooses to nullify the grade will NOT warrant a refund.

Does canceling scores remove the bad test score from the candidate's record?

No. To remove a particular test score from ACT records, candidates are supposed to submit a written request. This is not valid if the candidate has taken the test through state testing or district testing.

How many times can one retake the ACT exam?

ACT can be attempted a maximum of 12 times. It is advisable to retake the ACT 2 or 3 times to improve one's scores. Retesting does not make the candidate lose a lot of time considering how the exam is conducted 7 times a year.

What is standby testing in the ACT?

Standby testing is a chance for students to attempt the ACT exam if they missed the late deadline to register either for a test date or a change in the exam center. It does NOT confirm a seat for the test. Candidates can be admitted for the test only when there is a seat vacant after the confirmed seats have been filled.

What is Section Retesting?

Students are allowed to retake individual test sections/subjects to improve their overall score instead of retaking the entire test. The retest will be offered mostly on National ACT test dates given that they have already taken a full ACT test and that they have a valid composite score.

Can the ACT test be given be re-evaluation?

Yes, students can request a re-evaluation of the ACT test. They should do this within 12 months of the test date. The application for re-evaluation must be sent through standard mail with an additional fee. The results are updated within 3 to 5 weeks after the request has been received.

Are calculators allowed for ACT?

Yes, candidates may bring calculators and use them during the mathematics section of the exam.

What kind of calculators are allowed for the ACT?

Examinees can use graphing calculators, scientific calculators, and any four-function calculator. Any calculator with a built-in or downloaded computer algebra system functionality is prohibited. The list includes brands like Casio, Hewlett-Packard, and Texas Instruments.

Scoring terms to know in ACT

Raw Score- The raw score is the total number of questions the candidate has answered correctly within each section.

Scaled Score- The raw scores are converted into scaled scores for each section. It is done to maintain the consistency of scores between test dates depending upon the difficulty level of the question paper.

Composite Score- This is the average of the four area scores. It is rounded up to the nearest integer and will be within a scale of 36.

Superscoring- ACT creates a composite score from the four best grades in the candidate's different test attempts. They also keep one other composite score of the candidate's choice that reflects upon their best skills.


ACT Resources


Online ACT Practice Tests



Average SAT score for Top Schools