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The ACT (American College Test)

The ACT (American College Test) is a standardized test to measure the ability to study. It is widely used as an admission criterion for universities and colleges in the USA and is mostly accepted as an equivalent alternative to the SAT. The abbreviation ACT originally stood for American College Test, whereby this written variant is no longer in use today.

Target audience of the ACT

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In the ACT, the areas of English, math, reading and science are tested.

Many US universities and colleges require an ACT or SAT result from all applicants for a completeBachelor's degree in the USA. This requirement then generally applies to both domestic and international applicants. The German Abitur certificate or the Austrian or Swiss Matura cannot replace the ACT.

However, those who have already started their studies and are Transfer student If you want to change to a higher semester of a bachelor's degree at a US university, you usually no longer have to take the ACT.

Exam content and test structure of the ACT

The ACT examines the following four areas:

  • English (English test)
  • Mathematics (Mathematics test)
  • Read (Reading test)
  • Natural sciences (Science test)

Some US universities require an extended version of the exam, the ACT Plus Writing. Here participants also have to write an essay.

In the basic version, the ACT lasts in total 2 hours and 55 minutes and consists exclusively of Multiple choice questions.

ACT English test

The ACT English test takes 45 minutes. In addition to punctuation, grammar and sentence construction, he also checks the areas of approach (based on appropriateness with regard to the purpose and target group of the text), text organization and expression.

ACT Mathematics Test

The ACT Mathematics test takes 60 minutes and includes questions about algebra and geometry in the context of school mathematics. It is permitted, but not mandatory, to use a calculator. However, only certain devices are allowed to be used.

ACT Reading Test

For the ACT Reading test are available for 35 minutes. The exam consists of four thematically differentiated partsin which the participants have to answer questions about a longer or two shorter passages of text. The texts come from the four disciplines of social sciences, humanities, natural sciences and literature.

ACT Science Test

The ACT Science test also takes 35 minutes. Here are skills in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, problem solving and logical thinking in a scientific context asked. The basis for the multiple choice questions are schematic representations of data (e.g. graphics and tables), descriptions of experiments or contradicting hypotheses on a research question. The use of a pocket calculator is not permitted in this part of the examination.

ACT Plus Writing

For the additional write check at the ACT Plus Writing is on within 30 minutes Writing an essay. The task describes a problem and two different perspectives on it. The examinee must present his or her own position on this subject in writing. He can either take one of the two predefined positions or develop his own.

Evaluation scale of the ACT

Each of the four areas of the American College Test comes with a Score from 1 (low) to 36 (high) rated. The total score (Composite score) results from the average of the four individual scores.

There are partial scores within the areas of English, mathematics and reading (Subscores) for the respective test components. They are rated on a scale from 1 to 18 points.

The write check at ACT Plus Writing is rated with 2 to 12 points. Together with the number of points in the English exam, this results in an additional combined number of points (Combined English / Writing Score) on a scale from 1 to 36 points. However, the assessment of the essay is not included in the overall assessment of the ACT exam.

It is possible to repeat the ACTto improve the number of points achieved.

Test centers and exam dates for the ACT

There are worldwide Test centers that support the ACT and the ACT Plus Writing to offer. Most of these test centers are located in international schools.

In the test centers outside of the US there are usually five or six exam dates per year. There is an exam date in each of the following months:

  • February (only every two years)
  • April
  • June
  • September
  • October
  • December

A current overview of the test centers and exam dates can be found on the ACT website.

Taking the ACT outside of a regular test center (Arranged testing) is only possible in strictly regulated exceptional cases and must be accompanied by a qualified supervisor.

Time of registration for the ACT

Registration for the ACT and the ACT Plus Writing he follows on-line and must be no later than approx four weeks take place before the respective examination date.

Costs and payment options

The basic ACT version currently costs US $ 36.50; for the ACT Plus Writing US $ 52.50 is payable. In addition, there is a fee of currently US $ 33 for an exam outside the USA in both cases. In total, the price is then:

  • US $ 69.50 for the ACT
  • US $ 85.50 for the ACT Plus Writing

If the ACT is to take place in a test center outside of the USA, payment must be made by Credit card respectively.

Official ACT website:

Preparatory courses for the ACT (American College Test)

  • ACT Mastery Online - the most extensive video course with over 50 videos for ACT preparation (for a fee)
  • Various ACT preparations - from
  • Magoosh - Online ACT Test Preparation (for a fee)

Book tips for ACT preparation

The Real ACT, 3rd Edition (Real ACT Prep Guide)