Whether your teen is days away from taking the ACT or even years away, it can never be a bad idea to brush up on the ins and outs of the ACT. Many teenagers get nervous about taking the test and want to do good, and will rely on you to help them out. If you have a better understanding of what it entails, you will be able to put their mind at ease and help guide them through this big test.

What Is the ACT?

The ACT is a lengthy test taken by high school students who are wanting to gain entry into a college after high school. Typically, your teen will take the ACT in the spring of their Junior year, although they can take it in the Fall of their Senior year as well. They may want to take it as early as they can in case they want to retest at any point during their Senior year. Taking the test will help determine their overall comprehension, and along with their GPA throughout high school, can give a college a peek into their intelligence and comprehension. This can help colleges make a decision on whether they want to accept your child or not into their university or school. 

The Test Itself

The test takes almost three hours total, and can take an additional hour if your teen decides to add on the additional writing section of the exam, although this is voluntary. Depending on the college your teen is interested in, though, you may want to double check their admission section to see if they require the written part of the ACT test to be included in their decision making. The actual ACT test is comprised of four sections: Reading, English, Math, and Science. Your teen will take the test and answer the multiple-choice questions with a pencil and paper. The higher the score, the better your teen answered the questions. The most any teen can score is a 36, and the least is 1. If they took the writing portion of the ACT, that will be a separate score from the general ACT results. The average score is around a 21, so if your teen does take the test you will have a good idea of where they placed.   


Registration for the ACT starts about five weeks before the test itself. Be sure to talk with your teen about their plans and make sure you get everything scheduled and signed up within the right time frames. And if your teen is dreading the test already, there are plenty of sample tests and worksheets they can practice on until the day of the test. Good luck!

Katie Kyzivat