How To Study For The ACT: Tips and Strategies for Success - Crimson Education US (2023)

Studying for the ACT can be daunting, but with the right strategies and techniques, you can improve your scores and increase your chances of getting into your dream school. Whether you're taking the ACT for the first time or looking to improve your previous score, this guide will provide you with the tools and knowledge you need to succeed. So let's get started and help you prepare for one of the most important exams of your academic career!

Why take the ACT?

The ACT is a standardized exam that measures a student's readiness for college-level work in four subjects: English, Math, Reading, and Science Reasoning.

The test is essential for college admissions because colleges and universities use the ACT scores as part of their evaluation process to determine whether a student has the academic skills necessary to succeed in their programs.

Higher scores on the ACT can improve a student's chances of getting into the college or university of their choice and may also make them eligible for scholarships or other financial aid.

Should you take the ACT or SAT?

As for why someone should take the ACT as opposed to the SAT, it really depends on the student's strengths and preferences.

The ACT tends to focus more on content knowledge and has a science reasoning section, while the SAT has a greater emphasis on critical thinking skills and includes an optional essay section.

It's important for students to research both tests and take practice exams to determine which one they are more comfortable with and likely to perform better on. Ultimately, the goal is to take the test that showcases their strengths and helps them achieve their college admissions goals.

For more information on which test to take, check out our blog comparing the SAT and ACT tests!

How is the ACT formatted?

Before studying for the ACT, It is an essential first step to understanding the format and content of the test. The test has four compulsory multiple-choice sections:

  • English
  • Math
  • Reading
  • Science

Additionally, there is also an optional writing component.

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The total test duration with the Writing component is 3 hours and 35 minutes or 2 hours and 55 minutes without.

The table below provides a breakdown of the respective components of the ACT test.

ACT Test Format
SectionDurationNumber of QuestionsTime per Question
English45 mins7536 secs
Math60 mins601 min
Reading35 mins4052 secs
Science35 mins4052 secs
Writing (Optional)40 mins140 mins

What topics do you need to study for the ACT?

English Test

In this component, you are given passages where you are either instructed to

  • Choose the correct form of a sentence within the passage or,
  • Answer general questions about the configuration of the passage.

Doing well will require a sound grasp of the English language's fundamental grammar and style rules.

To break it down, there are five main areas that are tested

  • Usage/Mechanics (40 qs): Tests knowledge of grammar and punctuation rules, including verb agreement and sentence structure
  • Sentence Structure (20 qs): Tests ability to identify and correct errors in sentence structure, such as sentence fragments
  • Rhetorical Skills (15 qs): Tests understanding of rhetorical strategies used in writing, such as organization and tone
  • Strategy (10 qs): Tests ability to read and interpret written passages, identify the main idea, and understand the author's purpose
  • Organization (10 qs): Tests ability to organize written passages effectively, using transitions and other techniques for coherence and clarity

Here are the skills tested under these main question types:


  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Pronoun usage
  • Adjective and adverb usage
  • Modifier placement
  • Sentence structure and formation
  • Punctuation, including commas, semicolons, and colons
  • Apostrophes and possessives

Sentence Structure

  • Fragments and run-ons
  • Coordination and subordination
  • Parallelism
  • Pronoun references and agreement
  • Comparison and clarity

Rhetorical Skills

  • Understanding author's purpose and point of view
  • Analyzing a writer's style, tone, and voice
  • Understanding organizational patterns in a passage
  • Understanding relationships between ideas in a passage
  • Identifying effective and ineffective language use


  • Understanding main idea and supporting details
  • Analyzing a passage's organization and structure
  • Identifying cause-and-effect relationships
  • Identifying sequence and progression
  • Understanding point of view and tone


  • Creating and using effective transitions
  • Creating and maintaining coherence and unity
  • Understanding the function of different sentence structures
  • Using appropriate sentence structures to convey meaning
  • Maintaining a consistent tone and style throughout a passage

Math Test

Questions in this component are generally arranged in ascending order of difficulty. The main topics tested are

  • Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra (14 qs): tests a student's knowledge of basic algebraic concepts, such as integers, factors, and operations with algebraic expressions.
  • Intermediate Algebra (10qs): Tests understanding of advanced algebraic concepts, such as quadratic equations, polynomials, and functions.
  • Coordinate Geometry (9 qs): Tests the ability to work with coordinate geometry, including graphing and identifying geometric shapes.
  • Plane Geometry (14 qs): Tests knowledge of geometric principles, such as lines, angles, triangles, circles, and other shapes.
  • Trigonometry (4 qs): Tests understanding of trigonometric concepts, such as sine, cosine, tangent, and the relationships between angles and sides of triangles.
  • Miscellaneous Topics (9 qs): Covers a variety of mathematical concepts, including basic statistics, probability, and logic.

The specific skills required under each broad topic are provided as follows:

Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra

  • Basic operations with integers and rational numbers
  • Solving linear equations and inequalities
  • Working with algebraic expressions
  • Understanding ratios, proportions, and percentages
  • Solving word problems and applying basic mathematical concepts

Intermediate Algebra

  • Solving quadratic equations and inequalities
  • Working with functions and their properties
  • Understanding matrices and determinants
  • Solving systems of equations
  • Understanding complex numbers

Coordinate Geometry

  • Understanding properties of lines, angles, and planes
  • Graphing linear and quadratic equations
  • Understanding properties of circles and other geometric shapes in the coordinate plane
  • Solving problems involving distance, midpoint, and slope

Plane Geometry

  • Understanding properties of lines, angles, and triangles
  • Solving problems involving congruence and similarity
  • Understanding properties of circles, polygons, and other geometric shapes
  • Solving problems involving areas, volumes, and surface areas of geometric shapes


  • Understanding trigonometric functions and their properties
  • Solving problems involving triangles and trigonometric ratios
  • Understanding the relationships between angles and sides of triangles
  • Understanding inverse trigonometric functions

Miscellaneous Topics

  • Understanding basic statistical concepts, such as mean, median, and mode
  • Understanding probability and counting principles
  • Solving problems involving sequences and series
  • Understanding basic logic and set theory

Reading Test

The reading test is broken down into four components, each containing either a long passage or two short and paired passages. Each question will test your comprehension of the passages provided.

The test assesses a student's ability to comprehend, interpret, and analyze written information, including:

1. Main Idea & Supporting Details

  • Understanding the central point or purpose of a passage
  • Identifying specific details that support the main idea
  • Understanding how supporting details contribute to the meaning of the passage

2. Inferences and Interpretation

  • Making logical connections between information presented in a passage
  • Identifying implied meanings and drawing conclusions based on evidence
  • Understanding the relationships between different parts of a passage

3. Vocabulary and Word Choice

  • Understanding the meaning of words in context
  • Analyzing the impact of word choice on the meaning of a passage
  • Understanding the use of literary devices and figurative language

4. Tone & Style

  • Understanding the author's tone and how it affects the meaning of the passage
  • Analyzing the author's style and how it contributes to the meaning of the text

5. Point of View and Purpose

  • Understanding the author's point of view and how it shapes the meaning of the passage
  • Analyzing the author's purpose for writing the passage and what message they are trying to convey

6. Structure and Organization

  • Understanding the organization and structure of a passage and how it contributes to the meaning of the text
  • Analyzing the use of transitions and other devices to create coherence and unity
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Science Test

This section requires you to interpret and analyze the information provided to you. The passages and data cover a range of scientific disciplines, including biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science. Here are the skills tested under each area of the ACT Science test:

1. Scientific Methodology

  • Understanding the scientific method and experimental design
  • Understanding how to formulate hypotheses and predictions based on scientific principles

2. Data Analysis

  • Analyzing and interpreting tables, graphs, and charts to extract information
  • Identifying trends and patterns in data
  • Understanding how to use data to draw conclusions

3. Evaluation of Experiments

  • Understanding the design of an experiment and the data collected
  • Analyzing experimental results to determine whether they support or contradict a hypothesis
  • Evaluating the reliability and validity of experimental results

4. Reasoning and Problem Solving

  • Using logic and critical thinking to draw conclusions and make predictions based on scientific information
  • Understanding cause-and-effect relationships in scientific data
  • Identifying errors and biases in scientific data

5. Scientific Vocabulary

  • Understanding scientific terminology, definitions, and concepts
  • Understanding how to use scientific vocabulary to communicate scientific ideas

6. Scientific Conclusions

  • Analyzing and interpreting experimental results to draw accurate conclusions
  • Understanding how to use scientific data to make predictions and inform decisions

7. Scientific Principles

  • Understanding basic scientific principles and concepts in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science
  • Understanding how these principles are applied in real-world situations

Writing Test (Optional)

The ACT Writing test is an optional section of the ACT exam that measures a student's writing skills. The test consists of one essay prompt, and students have 40 minutes to write a well-organized and persuasive essay on the given topic.

The prompt presents a topic related to a contemporary issue and asks students to develop an argument in response to the issue. Students must analyze the issue, develop their position, and use evidence to support their idea. The essay is scored on a scale of 1 to 12 by two independent evaluators who assess the essay based on four criteria:

  • Development and Support: The essay should demonstrate a clear and focused perspective, develop ideas logically and coherently, and provide appropriate evidence to support the argument.
  • Organization: The essay should be well-organized, with a clear introduction, body paragraphs that develop the argument, and a conclusion that summarizes the main points.
  • Language Use: The essay should demonstrate effective use of language, including appropriate word choice, varied sentence structure, and effective transitions.
  • Conventions: The essay should demonstrate appropriate grammar, usage, punctuation, and spelling.

6 Tips to help you study for the ACT

1. Creating a study schedule and sticking to it

As the all-too-familiar adage goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Construct a well-defined study timetable. This ensures that the preparation is sufficient and progressive, preventing the needless stress associated with hasty or last minute preparation.

There is no one template nor a good or bad study plan. Allow yourself the flexibility that best accommodates your needs and spend more time on your weak areas. To pinpoint exactly where these strengths or weaknesses are, you could take a practice test first.

Prior to the actual test day, you should ideally have completed several timed ACT practice tests, along with any additional preparation required for tricky concepts or problems.

ACT 6 Week Study Plan
WeekTopic SectionTask
1EnglishTake a full-length practice test to establish a baseline score and identify areas for improvement. Review grammar rules and practice editing sentences and passages.
MathReview basic concepts, such as arithmetic operations and algebraic expressions. Practice solving problems and use online resources to identify areas of weakness.
ReadingPractice reading comprehension skills by reading passages and answering questions. Focus on identifying main ideas, supporting details, and inferences.
SciencePractice data interpretation skills by analyzing graphs, charts, and tables. Practice evaluating experiments and identifying patterns and relationships in scientific data.
WritingStudy the prompt structure and practice organizing an argument in response to a given topic. Review grammar and usage rules and practice writing clear and coherent sentences.
2EnglishPractice identifying errors in grammar, punctuation, and usage. Review more advanced concepts, such as parallel structure and modifier placement.
MathReview intermediate algebra concepts, such as factoring and quadratic equations. Practice solving word problems and multi-step equations.
ReadingPractice time management skills by reading passages and answering questions within the allotted time. Focus on identifying the main purpose of each passage and supporting details.
SciencePractice identifying trends and patterns in scientific data. Review more advanced concepts, such as chemistry formulas and physics principles.
WritingReview sample essays and practice organizing and developing an argument in response to a given prompt.
3EnglishPractice sentence structure and organization by revising and editing paragraphs and short essays. Review rhetorical devices, such as metaphor and allusion, and practice identifying them in passages.
MathReview coordinate geometry concepts, such as graphing lines and circles. Practice solving problems involving trigonometric functions and angles.
ReadingPractice reading passages and answering questions more quickly and accurately. Focus on developing a reading strategy that works best for you.
SciencePractice using scientific vocabulary and understanding the relationships between different scientific principles.
WritingWrite a full-length practice essay and have it evaluated by a teacher or tutor. Review feedback and make revisions.
4EnglishReview tone and style in writing and practice identifying the author's voice and purpose in passages. Review the organization and structure of paragraphs and essays.
MathReview plane geometry concepts, such as angles and triangles. Practice solving problems involving area, volume, and surface area of shapes.
ReadingReview test-taking strategies and take more full-length practice tests to build speed and accuracy.
SciencePractice identifying errors and biases in scientific data and understanding the scientific method.
WritingWrite another full-length practice essay and review feedback to identify areas for improvement.
5EnglishPractice vocabulary by reviewing commonly tested words and using flashcards or online resources to learn definitions. Practice identifying context clues and understanding connotations.
MathReview miscellaneous topics, such as basic statistics and probability. Practice using logic and critical thinking to solve problems.
ReadingPractice reading passages from different fields and become comfortable with unfamiliar topics.
ScienceTake a full-length practice test to gauge progress and identify any remaining areas of weakness.
WritingWrite a final full-length practice essay and review feedback to make any final revisions.
6EnglishReview all test-taking strategies and practice pacing and time management skills. Take a final full-length practice test to prepare for the exam.
MathReview all concepts and problem types that have been identified as areas of weakness. Practice the most challenging concepts until they become comfortable.
ReadingPractice staying focused and alert during long reading sections. Review test-taking strategies and develop a plan for each passage.
SciencePractice analyzing and interpreting scientific data quickly and accurately. Review concepts that have been identified as areas of weakness.
WritingReview all sample essays and feedback to identify areas for improvement.
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2. Utilize Practice Materials

Practice makes perfect. Make use of official ACT study guides and practice exams that are accessible online - both on official sites and on sites like Khan Academy. To swiftly pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses, taking a first sample exam can be helpful. Subsequently, adjust your study strategy accordingly.

Review your responses after each practice test - find out why and how to avoid similar errors. Aimlessly going through tests without looking at your mistakes will waste time!

3. Developing Effective Test-Taking Strategies

Follow the time allotted for each question as closely as possible. While it is acceptable to finish on time initially, leaving some time for checking is ideal.

When it comes to more complex questions, cross out incorrect answers. There may be more than one choice that sounds plausible, but first, cross off any options that seem absurd or inaccurate to begin the process of elimination. If you must guess, this can help raise your odds of getting the correct response via likelihood.

If you cannot eliminate any option, it may be best to leave it for later. Make a mental note of it, and return to it when you are done with other questions - do not dwell on any one question for too long!

4. Targeted Practice: Improving Specific Areas

Work hard, but work wise as well. As you practice more, quickly identify the section(s) you are weaker in and the question types you struggle with.

For instance, if you work with trigonometry questions under the Math segment of the ACT, you could attempt more similar trigonometry questions found in general maths practice books beyond the ACTs. If your problem is with reading comprehension, spend more time exposing yourself to the language and learning how to tackle different question types that call for other comprehension skills.

5. Manage Stress and Stay Motivated

We feel stressed whenever we are under pressure or threatened. Stress is not a problem, it can be beneficial, pushing us to work diligently and stay disciplined.

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Instead, the problem lies with excessive stress, which becomes counterproductive to your preparation and performance.

How do we manage stress? There are different strokes for different people, but some healthy ways of self-care include an exercise routine and meditation. It could be any activity that makes you feel happier and provides an outlet from the stress of ACT preparation. It can also be helpful on test day or before each practice test to affirm yourself through positive self-talk.

Besides stress, staying motivated is also a struggle for many. Perhaps you are practicing daily and not seeing giant leaps in your scores anymore, or you are just tired from waking up every day to the same study routine. The key to staying driven will be to remind yourself of the purpose behind the ACT - whether it is going to your dream college or future career aspirations.

While seemingly contradictory, motivation seems more of a myth than an essential ingredient to success. Ultimately, discipline keeps us on the right trajectory no matter how we feel, allowing us to work towards our desired goal instead of focusing on instant gratification.

Sometimes, you must grit your teeth and remind yourself of the higher purpose behind your preparation for the ACT. Start building that discipline muscle today!

6. Get Help Online

The ACT preparation process can be lonely but it does not have to be. Studying for it with a group of friends may be a lot more enjoyable since you can exchange study techniques and find accountability partners.

If you're looking for one, you can easily find study groups online with communities on platforms like Discord. If you need further support, look for ACT tutoring services in your region and online; choose one that best suits your requirements and budget.

Do your best to get in touch with your seniors or friends who have previously taken the ACT; they will be able to provide you with tips while leaving your wallet intact!

Final Thoughts

Studying for the ACT can be a challenging but rewarding journey, and with the proper guidance and support, students can achieve their dream scores.

If you're looking for expert advice and personalized guidance to help you prepare for the ACT, consider booking a free consultation with Crimson Education. Our team of experienced college admissions consultants can help you develop a customized study plan, provide test-taking strategies, and offer feedback on your essays to maximize your chances of success on test day. With Crimson's support, you can feel confident and prepared for the ACT exam and achieve your academic and career goals. Book your free consultation today and start your journey to success!

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Key Resources & Further Reading

  • Join our free webinars on US university applications
  • Free eBooks and guides to help with the college application process
  • Online ACT Tutoring
  • SAT vs ACT: Which test should you take
  • What is a good ACT score?


What is the best way to study for the ACT? ›

12 Tips to Taking the ACT Test
  1. Get familiar with the test. Review the information found in the Preparing for the ACT practice booklet. ...
  2. Identify areas to improve. Use the practice test to identify the subjects that are most challenging for you.
  3. Update your knowledge and skills.

Is there a way to study for the ACT? ›

You should use official ACT practice tests and study resources when preparing. Practice time management — the ACT has 61 more questions than the SAT. Focus on questions you know first, and don't leave any answers blank. Memorizing math formulas and increasing your reading speed can help raise your score.

How can I get a perfect score on the ACT without studying? ›

To do well on the ACT without studying, answer easy questions first and use the process of elimination. Use diagrams and visuals to one's full advantage. Make intelligent guesses to get good ACT scores. There's no penalty for guessing, and there's a 20% chance of getting the right answer each time.

How do you get 36 on the ACT? ›

Based on the ACT practice tests, most sections require you to miss 0 questions to receive a score of 36. However, in the Math section, you might be able to miss 1 question and still receive a 36. Receiving a score of 35 most often entails missing 1–3 questions in each section.

Is 1 month enough to study for ACT? ›

With just one month to study for the ACT, you'll want to be as organized as possible to make the most of your time. It's ideal to spread your ACT prep over two or three months, but one month is still enough to see score gains.

How many hours a day should you study for ACT? ›

It is recommended to study for at least 10 hours so you are prepared. It is also better to keep your studying within one to six months before the test: Less than one month, the material doesn't have time to sink in.

What is the best letter to guess on the ACT? ›

For those guessing on only a few of the last ten questions, A/F would be the better option. The Safe Bet: Answer choice E/K is the safest choice because it, so far, has always had one correct answer. In fact, E/K has met or exceeded the expected average 82% of the time, making it the most consistent answer choice.

Is 3 months enough to study for ACT? ›

As a general rule, studying somewhere between one and six months will probably be enough to produce significant results. That said, the skills needed for the SAT/ACT can be continually refined. The more time you spend familiarizing yourself with the test, the closer you'll get to a perfect score.

How long should you start studying for ACT? ›

Experts recommend at least three to four months of prep for the first-time test taker. This means juniors who are taking the ACT or SAT in the spring, should ideally start schedule their prep starting sometime during winter.

What is the average ACT score? ›

According to data published by ACT, Inc. and based on the scores of 5,368,134 students who took the ACT and graduated in the last three years, the average composite ACT score is 19.8. Roughly 1.3 million students, or 36% of the U.S. high school graduating class of 2022, took the ACT.

How can I improve my drastically ACT score? ›

5 Tips to Improve Your ACT Score
  1. Prepare early and effectively. First, set up your MyACT account. ...
  2. Practice often. Consistent test-taking practice has shown to be one of the best ways to increase your ACT scores. ...
  3. Use the ACT practice tests. ...
  4. Take the ACT three to four times. ...
  5. Reduce your test anxiety.
Feb 9, 2022

How many questions can you miss on the ACT to get a perfect score? ›

As you can see, you could miss up to three questions on English, two on Math, one on Reading, and two on Science (eight total) and still get a max ACT score of 36.

What is the easiest section to improve on the ACT? ›

If you're trying to boost your ACT score, the English section is the easiest to tackle. Here's why: there is only a handful of technical grammar content covered and there are really only a handful of rhetorical skills covered.

Has anyone ever gotten a 1 on the ACT? ›

The absolute minimum ACT score you can get is a 1, although this is very unlikely to happen. You might be more worried about getting a score high enough to get into college.

Which ACT month is the easiest? ›

Origin of the Myth

But here's the thing: While there were studies done that showed higher scores in one month than another, those months changed year to year. First experts would cry “December is easiest! Take it in December!” and a few years later they'd swear “May is by far easier!”

Does the ACT get harder every year? ›

When those skills and constructs become more complicated and difficult over time, the ACT reflects that. Those changes tend to occur very gradually, however, not usually within a two to three year span.

Should I study everyday for the ACT? ›

Ideally, you should aim to study for the ACT for a couple of hours every day, with an occasional long weekend session for a full, timed practice test. Plus, it's best if you study at the same time every day. Your study time is then easy to remember, and you come to it mentally prepared to tackle the day's work.

What is the best ACT study schedule? ›

ACT Study Calendar

At a minimum, plan to spend about one hour a week on ACT prep, though it's recommended that you carve out 2-3 hours per week. In the weeks that you take an ACT practice test (there are 4 total in this 3 Month Study Plan), plan to spend at least 6 hours on ACT prep.

Do colleges care how many times I take ACT? ›

You can take the ACT up to 12 times, and many students end up taking the test between 2-3 times before applying to college. Most colleges are neutral about multiple scores. Many students, in fact, make score improvements by retaking the ACT. Give yourself time to improve before you begin filling out applications.

What are the best times to take the ACT? ›

While you may wait to take it until the fall of your senior year, it's usually best to sit for the ACT sooner, ideally by the spring of your junior year. This ensures you have ample time to retake the exam (if desired) to try to raise your scores before your college application deadlines.

Is C really the most common answer? ›

On tests with four choices (say, A, B, C, and D), B was slightly more likely to be correct (28%). Remember, the expected likelihood of each option being correct is 25%. And on tests with five choices (say, A, B, C, D, and E), E was the most commonly correct answer (23%). C was the least (17%).

What is the best answer to put on the ACT? ›

For most of the ACT, there is no “best” letter to guess. Except… at the end of the Math section. Most people (and tutors) tell students that, if they have no idea on a question, to just guess answer choice “C” — the middle answer on most multiple choice tests.

Is it better to leave questions blank on the ACT? ›

There is no penalty for wrong answers on the ACT, so you should never leave any blanks on your answer sheet. When you guess on Never questions, pick your favorite two-letter combo of answers and stick with it. For example, always choose A/F or C/H. If you're consistent, you're more likely to pick up points.

Is it hard to finish the ACT? ›

The ACT challenges test-takers with a total of 215 questions across four sections. Complex reading passages and tricky math questions can make the ACT difficult for some. Taking ACT practice tests and learning key strategies can make the test easier for you.

How long does it take to get an ACT without an essay? ›

How long does the ACT take? The ACT is 3 hours long (technically 2 hours and 55 minutes). Including breaks, the exam takes 3 hours and 30 minutes to complete. If you sign up for the optional essay (the ACT Plus Writing), the test clocks in at 3 hours and 40 minutes or just over 4 hours with breaks.

Is the ACT harder than 20 years ago? ›

Relatively speaking, the ACT has gotten “harder” over the years. As students start to do better on ACT, the test-makers gradually adjust the difficulty level of the test. And students have gotten better. In 1970, the average composite score nationwide was 18.6.

Do you need to practice for the ACT? ›

Reaching your full potential score on the ACT requires significant preparation leading up to test day to familiarize yourself with not only the content that shows up on the ACT but also with the format, the time constraints, the types of questions that will be asked, the ways that the ACT writers try to trick you, and ...

How many times should a student take the ACT? ›

But generally speaking, we recommend taking the ACT 2-3 times. After three attempts, you're unlikely to see much improvement, and admissions committees tend to see this in a negative light. Recently, the ACT implemented superscoring in their score reports.

What ACT score is needed for scholarships? ›

At a minimum, an ACT score of 25 should qualify you for lower-level scholarship money. However, as the amount increases, scholarships become more competitive and the score ranges increase. Again, the barest minimum to shoot for is the 20-25 score range.

What's the minimum ACT score for colleges? ›

Schools vary considerably in the kinds of ACT scores they look for in applicants. Less selective institutions tend to accept scores closer to the national average (21), whereas more competitive universities often prefer scores in the 32-36 range.

What state has the highest ACT scores? ›

Massachusetts has the highest average ACT score of 26, and Connecticut followed closely with 25.9. Nevada had the lowest average ACT score of 17.9. The states with the ten highest average ACT scores are: Massachusetts - 26.

What is the lowest passing score on ACT? ›

There's no “passing score” on the ACT; a good ACT score is one that helps strengthen your application and increases your chances of getting into the school of your choice.

What happens if I don't answer all ACT questions? ›

Students will be awarded points for each correct answer with no points taken away for any incorrect ones. This is why never leaving an answer blank on your test is so important. You can only gain by taking a stab at the question. If you leave it blank, you will most certainly get it wrong.

Can you get a 36 on the ACT without studying? ›

Students may choose not to prepare due to the mindset that these exams are just like any other standardized test. Very rarely, a student earns a good score on the SAT/ACT without preparation. However, it is an unlikely reality for the vast majority of high school students.

What is the hardest section to improve on ACT? ›

Do You Feel Confident in the Content? Obviously, it's not a good idea to take the ACT® unless you have a good grasp on the content that will be tested. The ACT® Reading and ACT® Science sections are both the hardest and easiest to prepare for.

What type of student is better for ACT? ›

If you have great math skills, the test where you stand to gain the biggest advantage is the ACT. The ACT tests more advanced math concepts than the SAT, and no formulas are provided for you (except on some individual questions).

How can I study for the ACT in less than a week? ›

10-Day ACT Study Plan
  1. Get Familiar With the ACT Format—20-30 Minutes.
  2. Pick Your ACT Target Score—30 Minutes.
  3. Take a Practice Test—3 Hours and 35 Minutes.
  4. Review and Analyze Your Practice Test—1 Hour.
  5. Learn the Strategies—3 Hours.
  6. Take and Review a Practice Section—2 Hours.
  7. Learn More Section Strategy—3 Hours.
Nov 1, 2017

How many students get a perfect ACT score every year? ›

How Many People Get a 36 on the ACT?
ACT ScorePercentileNumber of Test-Takers (Out of 1,670,497)
4 more rows

How do you get a 1 on the ACT? ›

1 ACT Score Standings

Out of the 1.91 million test-takers, 1895661 scored the same or higher than you. You can apply to 0 colleges and have a good shot at getting admitted. You have a very low chance of getting into 1499 schools with this score.

What college requires the highest ACT score? ›

United States Colleges Ranked by Highest ACT Score

Below is a list of the 1159 colleges in the United States with the highest ACT Score for incoming freshmen. California Institute of Technology tops the list with an average ACT Score of 35. Alternatively, check out the SAT version of these rankings.

What celebrities have a low ACT score? ›


One of the lowest known celebrity ACT scores includes actress Marilyn Monroe scoring 21 on the exam. Even lower than her, however, is esteemed American author William Faulkner. Before becoming one of the most iconic authors in U.S. history, Faulkner scored a dismal 18, and never graduated from high school.

What is the lowest ACT score Harvard accepted? ›

The average ACT score of Harvard-accepted students is 33. Although Harvard claims there is no minimum ACT score, if you apply with a 29 or lower, you'll have difficulty getting in. So, to get into Harvard, it is important to note the different Harvard University requirements for test scores.

What is the average first ACT score? ›

The average ACT score is 20.

If you've scored 21, then you've scored higher than 50% of test-takers. That's pretty good, depending on your frame of reference. A 24 places you at the 74th percentile—better than ¾ of test-takers!

How many minutes a day should you study for the ACT? ›

Plan to study for two hours each day, every day of the week leading up to your test. Readjust your schedule if necessary. You should aim to study for the ACT every day over the course of a few months, in addition to weekly timed practice tests.

Is a 26 on the ACT good? ›

A 26 ACT score puts you at the 83rd percentile, which means you scored higher than 83% of all test takers!

Is a 19 GOOD ON ACT? ›

What Is a Good ACT Score Overall? A good ACT score ranks you higher than the majority of test-takers. As such, any composite score above the 50th percentile, or 19-20, can be considered a solid score.

How many times does the average student take the ACT? ›

You can take the ACT up to 12 times, and many students end up taking the test between 2-3 times before applying to college. Most colleges are neutral about multiple scores.

What ACT score will get a scholarship? ›

The minimum requirements to receive a scholarship are a rank in the top 50% of your class, a GPA of 3.5 or over, and an SAT score of 1100 or an ACT score of 22.

Can I get into Harvard with a 26 ACT? ›

Admissions Summary

Harvard College is extremely selective with an acceptance rate of 4%. Students that get into Harvard College have an ACT score of 34–36. Regular applications are due January 1.

Can I get into an Ivy League with a 26 ACT? ›

Ivy leagues and top colleges usually look for an ACT range between 32-36. Other highly-selective schools have an average ACT range of 27-31. Some less-selective colleges look for applicants with ACT scores in the range of 25-29.

What is the best answer to guess on ACT? ›

Most people (and tutors) tell students that, if they have no idea on a question, to just guess answer choice “C” — the middle answer on most multiple choice tests. That's fine advice if “C” is equally likely to be correct, which is not the case on the the last 10 questions of the ACT Math section.

Does your ACT score really matter? ›

Plus, higher test results may get you scholarships from your university or academic program. We know a high SAT or ACT score can turn a good college application into a great college application.

What is the average ACT score for a 11th grader? ›

What is the average ACT score?
State/DistrictAverage ACT Score
47 more rows
Jan 15, 2017

What time of year is the ACT the easiest? ›

Origin of the Myth

But here's the thing: While there were studies done that showed higher scores in one month than another, those months changed year to year. First experts would cry “December is easiest! Take it in December!” and a few years later they'd swear “May is by far easier!”


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