What is the ACT®?

Learn more about the standardized test for US College Admissions.

  • About the ACT
  • Test Dates
  • SAT vs ACT
  • UK Testing Centres
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About the ACT

What is the ACT?

First introduced in 1959, the ACT is now as widely accepted by U.S. Universities as the more well-known SAT. With SAT tests in the UK being booked up months in advance and with the new 2016 SAT changes, an increasing number of students applying to U.S. Universities are opting for the ACT rather than the SAT.

What the ACT measures

The ACT college readiness assessment is a curriculum and standards-based educational and career planning tool that assesses students' academic readiness for college. The test uses the same score scale as ACT Explore and ACT Plan, making the system an effective tool to monitor academic progress and student growth.

Explore our options and get started today. You can score higher on the ACT and we can show you how!

Course Structure

Section Questions Timing Description
English 75 Questions 45 Minutes Measures standard written English and rhetorical skills.
Mathematics* 60 Questions 60 minutes Measures mathematical skills students have typically acquired through their secondary and sixth form years.
Reading 40 Questions 35 minutes Measures reading comprehension.
Science 40 Questions 35 minutes Measures the interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning and problem-solving skills required in natural sciences.
Optional Writing Test 1 Prompt 35 Minutes Measures writing skills emphasized in high school English classes and in entry-level college composition courses.
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Test Dates

Who should take the ACT

Most American high school students take the ACT for the first time in the spring of the year before they graduate from high school. This corresponds to spring of the AS-level year in the UK system. In fact, students educated in the UK system might consider taking the ACT after finishing their GCSEs, as the math and science content are similar to that covered at GCSE-level. This autumn or winter of the lower sixth year might be an ideal time to prepare for and take the ACT.

How can I register for the ACT?

To take the ACT outside the U.S. or Canada, you must register online through www.actstudent.org

International Test Dates and Registration Deadlines:

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Fee Required
June 7-8, 2019 May 3, 2019 May 4-31, 2019
July 13, 2019 June 21, 2019 June 28, 2019
September 13-14, 2019 August 23, 2019 September 6, 2019
October 11-12, 2019 September 20, 2019 October 4, 2019
December 13-14, 2019 November 22, 2019 December 6, 2019
February 7-8, 2020 January 17, 2020 January 31, 2020
April 3-4, 2020 March 13, 2020 March 27, 2020
June 12-13, 2020 May 22, 2020 June 5, 2020

Please visit www.act.org for the most up to date information.

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SAT vs ACT

Should I take the SAT or ACT?

Most U.S. Universities do not have a preference for which exam you take - however you should check with the school itself for clarity. Below is a comparison of both the tests:

ACT SAT
Test Length 3 hours, 25 minutes 3 hours, 50 minutes (including optional 50-minute essay)
Test Sections 5 sections 3 sections
Science Content Tests science reasoning (analysis, interpretation, problem solving) Science not included
Math Content 25% of the overall score; entirely multiple choice 33% of overall score; trigonometry and fill-in questions
Essay Last section - optional Last section - optional
Scoring 3 scores of 1-36 per subject area
Writing score: 2-12
2 scores of 200-800 per section
Total: 1600
Guessing No penalty for wrong answers No penalty for wrong answers
Score History Students decide which score is sent A student's entire score history is sent (depending on university requirements).
Test Fee $46.00 (No Writing) + $47.50 Non-U.S. Regional Fee
$62.50 (Plus Writing) + $47.50 Non-U.S. Regional Fee
$43.00 + $40.00 Non-U.S. Regional Fee
$60.00 (With Essay) + $40.00 Non-U.S. Regional Fee
Register for the test (Please note students must register themselves for the test) www.actstudent.org www.collegeboard.com
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UK Testing Centres

Testing Centres in the UK:

Please note: not all centers are available on every testing date and have limited seating, so be sure to research and book well in advance!

  • Wellington College (Berkshire)
  • Brentwood School (Brentwood, Essex)
  • Bromsgrove School (Bromsgrove)
  • Immanuel College (Bushey, Hertfordshire)
  • The Kings School, Canterbury (Canterbury, Kent)
  • ACS Cobham International School (Cobham, Surrey)
  • ACS Hillingdon International School (Hillingdon, Middlesex)
  • International School of Aberdeen (Cults, Aberdeen)
  • Fettes College (Edinburgh, Scotland)
  • Kingsdale School (London)
  • Southbank International School (London)
  • University College School (London)
  • Marlborough College (Marlborough, Wiltshire)
  • Ef International Academy (Oxford)
  • Concord College (Shrewsbury, England)
  • TASIS The American School (Thorpe, Surrey)