All about ACT Exam


Are you going to appear for ACT in less than 2 months? Aren’t sure about the topics that are tested? We bring in-depth guide with the entire syllabus for ACT.

The ACT test is a standardized test that measures a student’s readiness for undergraduate programs. Universities uses ACT scores to evaluate students during the admissions process. ACT has five sections – English, math, Reading, Science and Essay (Optional)

Exam Structure



Time Allotted

Number of Questions


45 minutes



60 minutes



35 minutes



35 minutes


Essay Writing

40 minutes

1 Essay


3 hours 35 minutes

(2 hours 55 minutes without essay)

154 ( +1 Essay Prompt)


Skills tested on English Section

This section contains five passages with about 15 questions per passage, which comes to 75 multiple-choice questions. Questions will ask about specific sentences or phrases in the passage or will ask about a specific paragraph or the entire passage as a whole. There will be six main type of questions on this section in two main content areas.

Two main content areas tested are:

  1. Usage and Mechanics – Tests knowledge on grammar usage, sentence structure, punctuations and other rules. There will be type of questions on this content.
  2. Rhetorical Skills- Focuses on your ability to comprehend and improve the passage's organization and style. There will be three Rhetorical Skills question types

Skills tested on Math Section

You’ll be able to use a permitted calculator for this section.

ACT Math tests three major areas:

  1. Algebra - Covers about 50% of ACT Maths-
  2. Geometry - Covers about 40% of ACT Maths
  3. Trigonometry - Covers about 7-10 % of ACT Maths

Skills tested on Reading Section

This section contains four passages or passage pairs which includes 40 multiple-choice questions. There will be about ten questions per passage. All questions in this section are based on passages, and there will be three single passages and one passage pair. Passages will be on specific subject areas: Humanities, Natural science, Social Science, and Literary fiction. One needs to be sharp with critical reasoning skills to understand main ideas, interpret details in passage, make comparisons and to analyse author’s tone and purpose.

Five question types:

  1. Main idea of the passage
  2. Detail – this questions type refers to a specific line in the passage and ask what it means.
  3. Vocabulary- This question type will select a specific word in the passage and ask what it means or how it functions in context.
  4. Function and Development- tests your ability to describe a sentence, phrase or a paragraph in the context of the entire passage.
  5. Implied Ideas- These questions ask you to infer the meaning of a line, paragraph, or complete passage.

Skills tested on Science Section

This section contains seven passages with 4-7 seven questions on each passage with total 40 multiple choice questions. Similar to English and Reading sections, all of questions here are based on passages and includes diagrams such as charts, pie charts, bar graphs, tables and other similar graphs. Passages will include content on topics such as physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, geology and earth/space sciences. This section tests your scientific skills and not really your knowledge of specific facts or subjects of science.

Three main question types are:

  1. Data Representation (30-40% of questions)- This type requires you to read, interpret and explain graphs, scatterplot and information presented in tables.
  2. Research Summaries (45-55% of questions)- This type tests your ability to interpret the design and results of experiments discussed in passages.
  3. Conflicting Viewpoints (15-20% of questions)- This type requires you to understand, analyse, and compare alternate viewpoints or hypotheses.

To score well on this exam, one has to work and perform well on all the four sections. Practice and determination are the two key factors to achieve higher score on ACT. Create a error log and revisit all your weak areas. Work on scheduled plan  and be regular with full length tests to build up stamina and focus on areas which are tested the most on ACT.

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Good Luck!