About the ACT

From an overview of the ACT to how it is scored to upcoming test dates, learn everything you need to know about the ACT below.  


The ACT is a three hour and thirty-five minute test accepted by all major colleges and universities.  It is comprised of four sections and an optional essay:


  • English: One 45-minute section which tests grammar and rhetorical skills

  • Math: One 60-minute section which tests typical math skills learned throughout high school curriculum

  • Reading: One 35-minute section which measures critical reading skills using four separate reading passages

  • Science: One 35-minute section which challenges students to answer questions based on the interpretation of charts and graphs

  • Writing (optional): One 40-minute section which tests a student's ability to write an essay that addresses three provided perspectives and forms an own argument on the given topic 

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1-36, with 36 being a perfect score.  Students receive a score from 1-36 on each of the four sections of the test: English, Math, Reading, and Science.  A student's composite ACT score is determined by the average of these four scores.  For example, a student who receives a 31 on English, a 28 on Math, a 27 on Reading, and a 30 on Science would receive a composite score of 29.  Student scores are based on how many questions they answer correctly in each section.  There is no penalty for guessing on the ACT, so it is important that students never leave any question blank.   

The Writing portion (Essay) is scored separately on a scale of 1-12 points.  This score is an additional score and does not have any effect on a student's composite ACT score.         


Test Date 

October 26, 2019

December 14th, 2019

February 8, 2020

April 4, 2020

June 13, 2020

July 18, 2020    


2019-2020 ACT Test Dates

Registration Deadline

September 27, 2019

November 8th, 2019

January 10, 2020

February 28, 2020 

May 8, 2020

June 19, 2020

Late Registration Deadline (extra fee required)

September 21 - October 4th, 2019

November 9-22, 2019

January 11-17, 2020

February 29-March 13, 2020

May 9-22, 2020

June 20-26, 2020

Most students will take the ACT during their junior year.  Deciding when to begin preparing and taking the tests depends on each student's schedule and academics.  It is important to keep in mind that most students will take the ACT 2-3 times, so the full process of preparing and taking the ACT usually lasts 4-6 months.  Many of our students will begin to prepare for the ACT over the summer before junior year and will begin taking the tests in the fall.  In general, we always recommend starting sooner rather than later, as junior year is an extremely busy time for students and starting ACT Prep early can make the process much less stressful.         

When Should I Take the ACT?

Registering for the ACT

To register for the ACT, go to www.act.org to create an account and register for the test.  Students will also use this site to check scores once they are released (usually about 2 weeks after the test).  Be sure to register for the ACT early, as many of the testing locations in North County San Diego fill up quickly.