The ACT Test: Format, Timing & Question Types

The ACT is a college entrance exam that many colleges and universities in the United States use as part of the college admissions process. Looking for basic information about the ACT test format? We’ve got it!

ACT Basics

The ACT is a standardized test that measures a student’s skills in five core areas: English, math, reading, science, and writing (optional). Students in grades 11 and 12 take the ACT so that they can submit their scores to colleges as part of the college application process.

ACT Format

The ACT is composed of four multiple-choice sections—English, Math, Reading, and Science—and one optional essay section—Writing. Total testing time is 2 hours and 55 minutes for the ACT without Writing and 3 hours and 25 minutes for the ACT with Writing. The breakdown of each section is as follows:

Section # of Questions & Time Limit Content/Skills Covered Question Types
English 75 questions in 45 min. grammar & usage, punctuation, sentence structure, strategy, organization, and style four-choice, multiple-choice usage/mechanics and rhetorical skills questions
Math 60 questions in 60 min. pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, and trigonometry five-choice, multiple-choice questions
Reading 40 questions in 35 min. reading comprehension of what is directly stated or implied four-choice, multiple-choice referring and reasoning questions
Science 40 questions in 35 min. interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem solving four-choice, multiple-choice data  representation, research summaries, and  conflicting viewpoints questions
Writing (optional) 1 essay in 30 min. writing skills essay prompt

Related Topics

  • For more specific information about the ACT English section, visit our ACT English page.
  • For more specific information about the ACT Math section, visit our ACT Math page.
  • For more specific information about the ACT Reading section, visit our ACT Reading page.
  • For more specific information about the ACT Science section, visit our ACT Science page.
  • For more specific information about the ACT Writing section, visit our ACT Writing page.

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