ACT Exam Pattern and Syllabus

ACT Exam Pattern and Syllabus

The ACT consists of four multiple-choice tests - English, mathematics, reading, and science and an optional writing test. Topics covered on these five tests correspond very closely to topics covered in typical high school classes.

Test Questions Time (Minutes)
English 75 45
Mathematics 60 60
Reading 40 35
Science 40 35
Writing (Optional) 1 prompt 40

Questions on the tests are intended to help assess college and career readiness.

1. English Test

75 questions, 45 minutes

The English test consists of five essays or passages, each of which is accompanied by a sequence of multiple-choice test questions. Different passage types are employed to provide a variety of rhetorical situations. Passages are chosen not only for their appropriateness in assessing writing skills but also to reflect students’ interests and experiences.

Passages and their accompanying questions test knowledge and skills related to production of writing; knowledge of language; and conventions of Standard English grammar, usage, and punctuation.

2. Mathematics Test

60 questions, 60 minutes

The mathematics test presents multiple-choice questions that require you to use reasoning skills to solve practical math problems. Some questions may belong to a set of several questions (for example, several questions about the same graph or chart).

Conceptual knowledge and computational skills are assumed as background for the problems, but recall of complex formulas and extensive computation is not required.

Math questions test knowledge and skills in the areas of number and quantity, algebra and functions, geometry, and statistics and probability.

3. Reading Test

40 questions, 35 minutes

The reading test measures your reading comprehension in three general areas:

  1. Key ideas and details
  2. Craft and structure
  3. Integration of knowledge and ideas

The test comprises four sections, each containing one long or two shorter prose passages that are representative of the level and kinds of text commonly encountered in first-year college curricula. Passages on topics in social studies, natural sciences, literary narrative (including prose fiction), and the humanities are included, and the passages vary in terms of how challenging and complex they are.

4. Science Test

40 questions, 35 minutes

The science test measures the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem-solving skills required in the natural sciences: life science/biology; physical science or chemistry, physics; and earth and space science.

5. Writing Test (Optional)

1 prompt, 40 minutes

The writing test is a 40-minute essay test that measures your writing skills - specifically those writing skills emphasized in high school English classes and in entry-level college composition courses.

The test asks you to produce an essay in response to a contemporary issue. You will be given a prompt that presents the issue and provides three different perspectives on it. Your task is to write an essay in which you develop a perspective on the issue and explore how it relates to at least one other perspective.