Facts About the ACT College Admission and Placement Test


The ACT® ( is one of the two primary college admissions and placement tests. The ACT may be taken in addition to the SAT or instead of the SAT. In recent years, the ACT has become more popular than the SAT because the ACT is shorter. The ACT includes multiple-choice sections on English, Math, Reading, and Science, and one optional 40-minute essay.

While both the SAT and ACT assess a student’s relative readiness for college, the ACT differs from the SAT in both content and style, and so requires a different test-taking approach.

The ACT is given in September, October, December, February (New Yorkers must take this ACT in Connecticut or New Jersey), April, and June. The registration deadline is about 6 weeks before the test date, but Wendy suggests you register earlier to get your choice of testing sites.

The standard ACT tutoring course at Wendy Segal Tutoring runs for six to eight weeks. Our recommendation for the best ACT workbook is The Real ACT Prep Guide.

Click here to see a comprehensive chart that conveniently compares characteristics of the old SAT, the new SAT, and the ACT.

7 Strategy Tips for Taking the ACT

The ACT isn’t a strategy test, but there are a few pointers to remember:

Work quickly. The ACT is a speed test. Don’t let any single question slow you down.
Answer every question as you see it. Don’t leave a question out, hoping to return to it later. Put something down, even if it’s a wild guess. If you circle the question number, you’ll know which questions to return to IF you have time at the end of the section.
In the English (grammar) section, don’t be afraid to put “No Change.” It’s a more frequent answer than “No Error” is on the SATs.
In the math section, remember that you can’t rely on the drawings. Don’t presume that the figure that looks like a right triangle actually is one. Figure it out for yourself.
In the reading section, save passage 2/Social Science for last. Most kids don’t do particularly well on that section and it can eat into your time. (If you have done practice tests and you are weak in a different section, save the weak section for last.)
In the science section, save the “student 1/ student 2″ passage for last. It usually is the most time-consuming.
For the essay, use the “Persuasive Essay” format we’ve discussed (“Here’s what they think, here’s where they’re wrong, here’s what I think, here are examples.”) Use lots of examples. They like long essays.