ACT Test Sections


The first section of the ACT is the 45-minute English test. The 75-question test consists of a few passages with various sections underlined on one side of the page and options to correct the underlined portions on the other side of the page. There are also a few questions asking about the order of sentences in a paragraph and paragraphs in a passage and the author's tone in a section of text.

This Section Tests:

  • English usage/mechanics
  • Rhetorical skills


This second section lasts 60-minutes and has 60-questions. Calculators are permitted only in this section of the test, which is the only section of the test where each quesstion has 5 choices instead of 4.

This Section Tests:

  • Pre-Algebra
  • Elementary Algebra
  • Intermediate Algebra
  • Coordinate Geometry
  • Plane Geometry
  • Trigonometry


The next section is the 35-minute, 40-question reading section. This section measures reading comprehension in four passages (taken and edited from books and magazines) one about prose fiction (short stories and novels), one about social science (history, economics, psychology, political science, and anthropology), one about humanities (art, music, architecture, dance), and one about natural science (biology, chemistry, physics, and the physical sciences), in that order.

 This Section Tests:

  • Critical Reading
  • Analysis
  • Reasoning 

Science Reasoning

The Science Reasoning test is a 35-minute, 40-question test. There are seven passages each followed by five to seven questions. There are three Data Representation passages with 5 questions following each passage, 3 Research Summary passage with six questions each, and one Conflicting Viewpoints passage with 7 questions.

This Section Tests:

  • Quantitative Analysis
  • Critical Reading
  • Reasoning
  • Ability to read charts 


The optional writing section, which is always administered at the end of the test, is 30 minutes long. All essays must be in response to a given prompt. The prompts are about a social issue applicable to high school students. No particular essay structure is required.

Two trained readers assign each essay a score between 1 and 6, where a score of 0 is reserved for essays that are blank, off-topic, non-English, not written with no. 2 pencil, or considered illegible after several attempts at reading. The scores are summed to produce a final score from 2 to 12 (or 0). If the two readers' scores differ by more than one point, then a senior third reader decides.

This Section Tests:

Rhetorical Skill
English Usage