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    The ACT (American College Test) is a national college admissions examination that consists of subject areas in English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. The ACT with writing includes the four subject area tests plus a 40-minute writing test. (99% of Edina's 2017 graduates took the ACT.)

    When students register they must choose one of the two options - ACT or ACT plus Writing. Not all colleges and universities require a Writing Test. Check with the colleges you are considering, or go to www.actstudent.org for a list of institutions that require or recommend the Writing Test.

    * * Please see the ACT website regarding allowed calculators.

    The ACT is administered on seven national test dates in September, October, December, February, April and June. The basic registration fee includes score reports for four college choices. See the ACT website for registration information. 

    What the ACT Measures

    The ACT English test puts an examinee in the position of a writer who makes decisions to revise and edit a text. Short texts and essays in different genres provide a variety of rhetorical situations. Passages are chosen for their appropriateness in assessing writing and language skills and to reflect students’ interests and experiences.

    The ACT mathematics test assesses the skills students typically acquire in courses taken through grade 11. The material covered on the test emphasizes the major content areas that are prerequisites to successful performance in entry-level courses in college mathematics. Knowledge of basic formulas and computational skills are assumed as background for the problems, but recall of complex formulas and extensive computation are not required.

    The ACT reading test measures the ability to read closely, reason logically about texts using evidence, and integrate information from multiple sources. The test questions focus on the mutually supportive skills that readers must bring to bear in studying written materials across a range of subject areas. Specifically, questions will ask you to determine main ideas; locate and interpret significant details; understand sequences of events; make comparisons; comprehend cause-effect relationships; determine the meaning of context-dependent words, phrases, and statements; draw generalizations; analyze the author’s or narrator’s voice and method; analyze claims and evidence in arguments; and integrate information from multiple texts.

    The ACT science test measures the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required in the natural sciences. The test presents several authentic scientific scenarios, each followed by a number of multiple-choice test questions. The content of the test includes biology, chemistry, Earth/space sciences (e.g., geology, astronomy, and meteorology), and physics. The questions require you to recognize and understand the basic features of, and concepts related to, the provided information; to examine critically the relationship between the information provided and the conclusions drawn or hypotheses developed; and to generalize from given information to gain new information, draw conclusions, or make predictions.

    The optional ACT writing test is an essay test that measures writing skills taught in high school English classes and entry level college composition courses. The test consists of one writing prompt that describes a complex issue and provides three different perspectives on the issue. You are asked to read the prompt and write an essay in which you develop your own perspective on the issue. Your essay must analyze the relationship between your own perspective and one or more other perspectives. You may adopt one of the perspectives given in the prompt as your own, or you may introduce one that is completely different from those given. Colleges may view student essays using the free ACT Essay View tool.

    The ACT is administered on six national test dates in September, October, December, February, April, June and July. The basic registration fee includes score reports for four college choices. 

    Testing begins after all examinees present by 8:00 a.m. are checked in and seated. A short break is scheduled after the first two tests. For students taking the ACT with writing, a brief break is also scheduled before the writing test. Students taking the ACT in standard time rooms are normally dismissed at about 12:15 p.m.; students taking the ACT with writing are normally dismissed at about 1:15 p.m. For more information about what to expect on test day, see test day checklist.


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    Last updated September 17, 2020