All About the ACT

10 ACT Facts

  1. 4 sections: English, Math, Reading, Science + essaykids testing 2
  2. The ACT Math Section includes advanced topics like trigonometry, probability, statistics, unit circle, functions,and basic matrices.
  3. The Reading Section includes 4 passages (Literature, Humanities, Social Science, and Natural Science), one of which is a double passage with two viewpoints on a single topic.
  4. The Science Test challenges students to reason through data, charts, graphs, and viewpoints to anser 35 multiple choice questions. The hardest task is the “two scientist passage” in which students must read views from two scientists on a controversial science topics. Science topics are from the fields of biology, chemistry, and physics.
  5. No Fill in. All questions on all sections (except the essay) are multiple choice. There is no penalty for guessing. Students should choose an answer for all questions.
  6. Most colleges and universities do not superscore. Contact us for a list of colleges and universities that do superscore the ACT.
  7. The ACT Math Test allows a calculator throughout. Students cannot use a calculator for the Science Section.
  8. The ACT essay is changing in 2016. The new essay will no longer be about high school related topics and will now require students to analyze different viewpoints.
  9. The ACT English Test is similar to the SAT Writing and Language Test. Both require students to have a strong command of English Grammar.
  10. Extra Time on the ACT: Extra time (1.5 or double time) is different on the ACT than the SAT. Contact Us for more information about extra time on the ACT.

Please feel free to Contact Us for further guidance on which test is best for your child.

Please see the ACT Curriculum Overview for more information on the sections of the ACT.

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ACT Curriculum Overview


The ACT Reading Section involves a dual challenge of reading quickly, but also understanding enough from the passage to answer the questions in a timely manner. Students must read each passage in 2-3 minutes and then complete a set of 10 questions in only 6-7 minutes. The Reading Test now includes a two passage section, requiring students to analyze a topic from two different authors.


The ACT Mathematics Section covers far more topics than the SAT math section. While there are frequently presented question types (percent, ratio, SOHCAHTOA, etc…), most students require a comprehensive review of Arithmetic, Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry. To give students an extra edge, I also cover number theory and matrices. For many students, the challenge of this section lies in the speed at which they must progress through the questions. I work closely with students on time budgeting issues on this section. The second challenge students face involves being able to know which method to use for which question type. Recognition strategy is essential for the ACT math. I address this by giving students mixed review starting in the third week of preparation.


The ACT English Section has two major question types, usage mechanics and rhetorical skills.
Usage Mechanics

  • Verb tense
  • Subject verb agreement
  • Comma Rules
  • Separation of two full sentences
  • Parts of speech-adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, etc…
  • Possessives & contractions

Rhetorical Skills

  • Transition words
  • Transition sentences
  • Sentence order
  • Sentence insertion
  • Choosing the right conclusion


The ACT Science Section requires no prior knowledge of biology, chemistry, or physics. Rather, it involves quickly digesting pieces of evidence and knowing what conclusions to draw. Each Science Test has a total of seven different passages. The most difficult passage requires students to analyze the points of view from two scientists. Other passages require analysis of charts and graphs from scientific experiments. These data driven passages require students to quickly skim results and answer multiple choice questions.

ACT Essay

The ACT Essay is changing in 2016. The new essay will require students to analyze multiple points of view about a single issue. Stay tuned for more info about the new ACT essay.