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Last Updated: November 19, 2023

Pre-ACT Test

With more and more students looking to expand their future possibilities and explore more school choices for undergraduate study in the United States, many universities have begun to accept ACT either in addition to or instead of, the SAT. The rising importance of ACT in student life made it necessary for students to prepare professionally for the same which gave rise to the concept of Pre-ACT in 2016. Pre-ACT is aimed at students in 8th,9th, and 10th-grade levels and is a platform that gives them first-hand information about the ACT.

What is ACT?

Much like the SAT, ACT is a test taken before gaining entry into a college or university in the United States. ACT, which originally stood for American College Testing, is a national college admissions exam that typically lasts around three hours or three and a half hours with the optional writing test. Unlike SAT, the test focuses on subject areas instead of general overall categories. ACT consists of English, Math, Reading, and Science, along with an optional Writing test. Excluding the writing portion, the ACT is a multiple-choice test, split into four sections for each of the four subject areas. The scores may come across as confusing, as the highest possible score is a 36, compared to SAT's 1600 (or 2400); each subject test (not including the optional writing portion) is given a score between 1-36, the scores are averaged, and the final score is out of a total possible 36 points.

Previously, colleges and universities would use the SAT as a judge of academic admission and to determine merit-based scholarships; few would accept the ACT in place of the SAT. However, most US colleges and universities now accept both to provide admission and merit-based scholarships. In determining which test to take, students should consider taking both as they each test different aspects of academic ability (subject areas versus general concepts).

Prior to the acceptance of ACT instead of SAT in US colleges or universities, students were required to take the PSAT each year before taking the actual exam for college admission. The PSAT allowed students to gain familiarity with the college entrance test by practicing each year and showing overall knowledge accumulated throughout their education so far. Recently, however, schools have begun to offer a new testing option called the Pre-ACT.

What is Pre-ACT?

The Pre-ACT is similar to the PSAT in the sense that it is a testing option provided before taking the official ACT in order to view the test and understand the format. The Pre-ACT option was officially announced by ACT Inc. in early 2016 and was offered in the fall of 2016 as a new option for high school students. As it is relatively new, not all high schools offer this option yet, though overall incorporation is the goal. The Pre-ACT will be offered to tenth-grade students in order to practice the format of the upcoming college entrance test.

As previously described, ACT is typically a three-hour test (three and a half hours with the optional writing section). However, the Pre-ACT only lasts for one hour and fifty-five minutes. Much like the actual ACT, Pre-ACT is a multiple-choice test, with each of the four subject areas. Pre-ACT does not include the optional writing section. The practice test is substantially shorter than the official ACT because, like the PSAT, it is offered to give students a chance to see and understand the format of test questions in the ACT.

Types of PreACT Tests

3 distinct PreACT test types exist. They are listed below: Comparison of these 3 test categories is as follows:
BasisPreACT 8/9PreACTPreACT Secure
Grades8th and 9th Graders10th Graders10th Graders
Mode of DeliveryPaper and PencilPaper and PencilOnline
Types of QuestionsMultiple- choice questionsMultiple- choice questionsMultiple- choice questions
Time allotted130 minutes130 minutes155 minutes
Date of testExam dates are chosen by schools at any time between September and JuneExam dates are chosen by schools at any time between September and JuneIn March and April, there are 3 two-week windows available
Score Range1-301-351-35

Why Pre-ACT?

Pre-ACT provides students an insight into their academic position which can both be an indication of progress with respect to the test or a sense that they have a wider scope for improvement. Students receive an estimated ACT score which can be used by mentors and schools alike in providing interventions and improving their teaching methods which in turn would be beneficial for the student. This score also lets students be aware of what subjects and areas they will flourish in and choose courses for higher education accordingly.

The report includes an indication of the student's interests which can be used by counselors in guiding students to colleges that would suit their needs and also about college majors and careers that can be opted for by the student in the far run. The fast availability of the report makes the planning process easier thereby saving a lot of time and assumptions regarding one's future.

Pre-ACT would then be beneficial because-

Pre-ACT Syllabus

The four sections associated with Pre-ACT and ACT are English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. Number of questions, time allotted, and topics tested are as follows:
SubjectNumber of questionsTime allottedReporting categories
English 45 questions30 minutes
  • Writing Styles
  • Standard English Conventions
  • Linguistic Knowledge
Mathematics36 questions40 minutes
  • Incorporating Fundamental Knowledge
  • Prepping for Advanced Mathematics (Algebra, Functions, Geometry, Statistics, and Probability)
  • Modeling
Reading25 questions30 minutes
  • Main Concepts and Specifics
  • Form and Organization
  • Combination of Information and Concepts
  • Genres of passages: natural science, humanities, social science, and literary narrative
Science30 questions30 minutes
  • Data Interpretation
  • Scientific Research
  • Model, Inference, and Experimental Results Evaluation
  • Pre-ACT Scores

    PreACT 8/9's score range is 1"30, while PreACT and PreACT Secure's score range is 1-35, all in accordance with the ACT 1-36 score scale. The marks candidates obtain for the correct answers will be considered as a raw score. Their overall score will be an average of the individual scores from the four sections and will be called a composite score. PreACT also provides a STEM score.

    Scores received in the Pre-ACT always have room for improvement and can be worked on though the report might predict an average ACT score attainable if the student remains consistent.

    Pre-ACT and PSAT

    While comparisons can be made between Pre-ACT and ACT and conclusions like the difference in time and lack of topics like trigonometry can be reached, it would not be fair to the student to understand an exam they haven't taken yet. A comparison can then be made with exams like PSAT which the student might have already taken or is preparing for.

    It cannot be claimed that PSAT is harder than Pre-ACT since both these exams focus on assessing different qualities in different ways. Mathematics in PSAT focuses more on word problems which are heavily worded and can have long winding sentences. PSAT also does not have a science section whereas Pre-ACT has a separate section for science and this section mainly involves scientific reasoning.

    Time is a factor that plays a major role in Pre-ACT since students receive only 130 minutes in all four sections whereas PSAT provides a considerably better time frame that helps students relax.

    Both these exams provide scope for scholarships like the National Merit Scholarships for the PSAT and other scholarships if the student wishes to send their Pre-ACT report to colleges and universities.

    Pre-Act and ACT Aspire

    ACT Aspire when compared to Pre-ACT is a completely different examination that students from 3rd to 10th-grade levels can attempt. This test is computerized and not in paper format and is not comprised of multiple-choice questions only. The test has written responses, interactive questions, and even asks for a critique of mathematical problems and therefore can be said to cater to a completely different structure and a different need.

    The scores which would be within 35 for Pre-ACT would be graded under 470 for each subject and there will not be an average score that can be sent to colleges.

    Information Regarding Pre-ACT Test Day

    Test Date- Pre-ACT dates are informed officially by the school that the student attends any day from September through June. Announcements must be closely monitored so as not to miss them. Students/parents can also enquire about the same to the counselor.

    Accommodations (if necessary)- Requests for accommodation have to be forwarded to the school/counselor who will request, in turn, to ACT and arrange for the same.

    Test Day Essentials- (not for PreACT Secure)

    Test-taking Strategies



    2023-24 ACT Dates

    ACT Resources


    Preparing for ACT


    Online ACT Practice Tests



    Average SAT score for Top Schools