The ACT is a standardized college admission exam. It measures high school students’ readiness for college and career success by focusing on key content areas such as English, math, reading, and science (with the optional writing section). Multiple-choice questions are used in the English, math, reading, and science sections, and scores are converted into a composite score between 1 and 36. 

ACT also provides score interpretations based on its College and Career Readiness Standards, which can provide secondary schools with information to improve instruction. Furthermore, ACT scores can be compared against College Readiness Benchmarks to determine whether students meet the minimum requirements for college success.

Year developed: 1959.


11th Grade,
12th Grade

Administration Information

English: 75 multiple-choice questions, 45 minutes Math: 60 multiple-choice questions, 60 minutes Reading: 40 multiple-choice questions 35 minutes Science: 40 multiple-choice questions, 35 minutes Writing: 1 essay, 40 minutes

Access and Use


ACT without the writing section: $66; ACT with the writing section: $91. See the full pricing information here:

Open Access
Use in Research

Angrist, J. D., Pathak, P. A., & Zárate, R. A. (2019). Choice and consequence: Assessing mismatch at chicago exam schools. NBER working paper. 

Avery, C., Gurantz, O., Hurwitz, M., & Smith, J. (2018). Shifting college majors in response to advanced placement exam scores. Journal of Human Resources, 53(4), 918-956. 

Bettinger, E. P., Evans, B. J., & Pope, D. G. (2013). Improving college performance and retention the easy way: Unpacking the ACT exam. American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 5(2), 26-52. 

Herberger, G., Immekus, J., & Ingle, W. K. (2020). Student, neighborhood, and school factors and their association with college readiness: Exploring the implementation of a race-and socioeconomic-based student assignment plan. Education and Urban Society, 52(3), 459-488.


Psychometric References

ACT. (2022). ACT technical manual. Iowa City, IA: ACT. 

Psychometric Considerations

Psychometrics is the science of psychological assessment. A primary goal of EdInstruments is to provide information on crucial psychometric topics including Validity and Reliability – essential concepts of evaluation, which indicate how well an instrument measures a construct - as well as additional properties that are worthy of consideration when selecting an instrument of measurement.

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