ACT Test Structure

The ACT measures your achievements in four areas – English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. There is an optional Writing test. You are not required to memorize facts or vocabulary to do well. We do not recommend that you cram by memorizing science facts and new vocabulary – doing so will not directly improve performance.

The following table outlines the format of the ACT:

Sections Types of Questions Number of Questions Times
English Usage/Mechanics
Sentence Structure
Rhetorical Skills

Total English Questions

40 (53%)
10 (13%)
12 (16%)
18 (24%)
35 (47%)
12 (16%)
11 (15%)
12 (16%)

75 (100%)

45 min.
Math Pre-Algebra
Elementary Algebra
Intermediate Algebra
Coordinate Geometry
Plane Geometry

Total Math Questions

14 (23%)
10 (17%)
9 (15%)
9 (15%)
14 (23%)
4 (7%)

60 (100%)

60 min.
Reading Prose Fiction
Social Studies
Natural Sciences

Total Reading Questions

10 (25%)
10 (25%)
10 (25%)
10 (25%)

40 (100%)

35 min.
Science Data Representation
Research Summaries
Conflicting Viewpoints

Total Science Questions

15 (38%)
18 (45%)
7 (17%)

40 (100%)

35 min.
Writing (optional) Essay Response

Total Writing Questions

1 (100%)

1 (100%)

30 min.
Total 2 hrs. 55 min.
(without Writing)
3 hrs. 30 min.
(with Writing)

ACT Question Types

The Math section of the ACT measures your mathematical achievement, including your ability to:

  • Use techniques taught in high school Math courses and needed for college Math courses, and
  • Reason mathematically and not focus on computation ability or ability to recall definitions, theorems, or formulas.

Math concepts tested on the ACT include:


Operations on Whole Numbers, Fractions, Decimals, Integers, Powers, Square Roots, Ratios, Proportions, Percentages, Multiples, Factors, Absolute Value, Number Ordering, Simple Linear Equations, Simple Probability, Mean, Median, Mode, Data Analysis

Elementary Algebra

Variables, Substitution, Polynomials, Factoring, Quadratic Equations, Solving Linear Equations, Exponents, Square Roots

Intermediate Algebra

Quadratic Formula, Radical Expressions, Inequalities, Absolute Value Equations, Sequences, Systems of Equations, Functions, Matrices, Roots, Complex Numbers

Coordinate Geometry

Number Lines, Coordinate (x,y) Plane, Line Graphs, Graphs of Points, Graphs of Circles, Slope, Parallel Lines, Perpendicular Lines, Distance, Midpoints, Transformations, Conics

Plane Geometry

Triangles, Rectangles, Parallelograms, Trapezoids, Circles, Angles, Parallel Lines, Perpendicular Lines, Translations, Rotations, Symmetry, Proof Techniques, Perimeter, Area, Volume, Logical Proofs


Ratios for Right Triangles, Graphs of Trigonometric Functions, Trigonometric Identities, Trigonometric Equations, Modeling

On the ACT, the Math questions are multiple-choice questions with five answer choices. The directions and format for the questions are as follows:

Solve each problem, chose the correct answer, and then fill in the corresponding oval on your answer document.
Do not linger over problems that take too much time. Solve as many as you can; then return to the others in the time you have left for this test. You are permitted to use a calculator on this test. You may use your calculator for any problems you choose, but some of the problems may best be done without using a calculator. Note: Unless otherwise stated, all of the following should be assumed.

  1. Illustrative figures are NOT necessarily drawn to scale.
  2. Geometric figures line in a plane.
  3. The word line indicates a straight line.
  4. The word average indicates an arithmetic mean.