The ACT Writing Test

ACT and SAT Test Prep, ACT Prep, ACT Writing
No Comments

The ACT Writing test is optional, although many colleges will want you to take it.  For a complete list of colleges who require it, please go here:

The ACT Writing test is a 30 minute essay that comes after you have completed the other sections.  Prior to taking it, you receive a 5 minute break.  I would highly recommend that you have a snack during the break so that your energy is at its peak – you will have been testing for 4 hours at that point! 

What type of prompt can you expect to find on the ACT Writing test?  Here’s a sample from ACT directly:

In contrast to the SAT Essay, you will find that the ACT Essay involves a much more concrete topic.  It will generally be a current issue about which you could have a polite discussion rather than a heated argument (like religion, abortion, capital punishment, etc.) It will also be something that students could write about without any deep background knowledge – as long as students have paid any attention to the world in which they live, they should have some material they can use to make their argument. 

Here are some of my own ideas for sample ACT Essay prompts:

  1. Should students be able to connect with their teachers on Social Networking sites? 
  2. Should there be a mandatory year of national service for students when they graduate from high school, during which time they could do military service, community service, or international service? 
  3. Should textbooks be replaced with laptops?  
  4. Should high school students be required to take a foreign language as part of graduation? 
  5. Should high school students be required to sign an honor code, affirming that they neither gave nor received assistance, with every assignment they turn in? 
  6. Should students be required to submit their written essays to a plagiarism-testing website prior to having the teacher grade them? 
  7. To what extent should teacher pay be tied to how well their students perform on standardized tests? 
  8. Should there be same-gender classrooms? 
  9. Should schools install cellphone-signal blocking equipment so that students are unable to use their phones to text or call during school hours? 
  10.  Should students be required to join a club while in high school?

Curious as to how the ACT evaluates the essays?  Check out the ACT Writing Rubric:

I hope you found this article helpful!  If you did, please share it with your friends.  Thanks, Brian Stewart   

ACT Science Test Content

ACT and SAT Test Prep, ACT Prep, ACT Science
No Comments

Although many people claim that the ACT Science test does not require any background knowledge, they are incorrect.  If you examine several ACT tests, you will find that you must have basic knowledge from these two high school courses:

  • Physical Science
  • Biology

Why do they require that you have this background knowledge?  Because high school juniors across the country should have taken these two courses, no matter the rigor of their individual high schools.  Expect to see just a handful of questions that involve actual background knowledge from these two areas. 

If you have taken advanced science, such as AP Chemistry or AP Physics, that certainly won’t hurt you.  It will help in the sense that your general ability to reason through scientific charts and graphs will be stronger, not because you need to have specific knowledge from any of those areas. 

The material they present on the passages can come from all sorts of general scientific areas:  physics, chemistry, biology, botany, zoology, astronomy, geology, and so forth. 

The ACT Science Section has 3 types of passages:

  • Data Representation (38%). There are three of this type of passage, and each passage has 5 questions.  You will need to evaluate information presented in graphs, tables and figures. 
  • Research Summaries (45%). There are three of this type of passage, and each passage has 6 questions.  You will need to analyze 2 or more experimental summaries, thinking about the results and the experimental design. 
  • Conflicting Viewpoints (17%). You will only have 1 passage of this type, and it has seven questions.  It will present viewpoints from anywhere from 2 up to several scientists.  You will need to read a good bit here, although sometimes there is a graph or two given as well.  You will need to sharpen your ability to compare and contrast differing scientific explanations. 

The passages are in a random order of difficulty, so just be on your toes to think critically at any point. 

If you would like to do some practice, please do my Free ACT Science Questions with Video Solutions

I hope you found this article helpful!  If you did, please share it with your friends.  Thanks, Brian Stewart 

ACT Reading Test Content and Material

ACT and SAT Test Prep, ACT Prep, ACT Reading
No Comments

The ACT provides a summary of the material covered on the ACT Reading section here:

To most students, the way they describe what is on the ACT Reading section doesn’t make much sense.  I have attempted to translate what they have in “ACT-speak” into common language. 

The Reading Test always have the same four types of reading passages, and always in the same order: 

1. Prose Fiction a short story or an excerpt from a longer fiction story.  Something you would typically find in your English class. 

2. Social Science something that a teacher from Social Studies would instruct, including history, economics, psychology and more.  Basically, any non-fiction area that is not a “hard” science like physics, chemistry, etc. 

3. Humanities – What makes humans human?  Our art, music, films and other creations.  You’ll find first-person and third-person accounts of human creative tasks. 

4. Natural Science – Could be anything from the sciences, like astronomy, geology, physics, etc.  You won’t have to have any specialized scientific knowledge – it will be material you can understand simply based on the passage.

Each passage is approximately 700-800 words, and has 10 questions that follow.  You will have two subscores: The Social Studies/Sciences subscore is based the Social Science and Natural Science passages, and the Arts/Literature subscore is based on your performance on the Prose Fiction and Humanities passages. 

This is the one section of the ACT where no background knowledge is required, other than having the skill of knowing how to read. 

You can prepare yourself by improving your overall reading speed and comprehension by reading books and magazines from my ACT Recommended Reading List.

You can also do my Free ACT Reading Questions with Video Solutions

Hope you found this article helpful!  If you did, please share it with your friends.  Thanks, Brian Stewart    

ACT Math Test Content

ACT and SAT Test Prep, ACT Math, ACT Prep
No Comments

The ACT provides a summary of the content covered on the ACT Math section here:

To most students, the way they describe what is on the ACT Math section doesn’t make much sense.  I have attempted to translate what they have in “ACT-speak” into common language. 

They always have the ACT Math questions allocated the same way, with each type of math content having the same percentage of questions from test to test.  If you have taken Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2, you should be in good shape.  They do have some topics that are occasionally covered in pre-calculus, so you may want to wait to take the ACT until you have covered all the material.  No need to worry about calculus – that won’t be on the ACT. 


Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra

  • Pre-Algebra (23%) 
  1. Number Basics:  Fractions, decimals, integers
  2. Scientific Notation
  3. Square Roots
  4. Exponents
  5. Factors of numbers and expressions
  6. Ratios and proportions
  7. Percentage calculations
  8. One variable equations
  9. Absolute Value
  10.   Simple statistics (mean, median, mode)
  11.   Simple probability (dependent and independent variable problems)
  12.   Simple interpretations of data graphs


  • Elementary Algebra (17%) 
  1. Properties of Exponents and Square Roots (multiplying, dividing, adding, subtracting, etc.)
  2. Solving equations using substitution
  3. 2 variable equations
  4. Order of operations (Parentheses/Exponents, Multiplication/Division, Addition/Subtraction)
  5. Factoring of equations 


Intermediate Algebra/Coordinate Geometry

  • Intermediate Algebra (15%) 
  1. Quadratic Formula
  2. Equations and expressions involving radicals and roots
  3. Equations with Absolute Value
  4. Inequalities
  5. Sequences and Patterns (Geometric and Arithmetic)
  6. More complex systems of equations (usually no more than 2 variables)
  7. More complex functions
  8. Turning word problems into algebraic models
  9. Matrices (addition, subtraction, multiplication)
  10. Complex numbers
  11. Once in a long while – synthetic division, standard deviation


  • Coordinate Geometry (15%)
  1. Be able to graph equations in the x-y coordinate plane, including lines and parabolas.  (Don’t need to worry about Hyperbolas or Ellipses). 
  2. Be able to graph a circle in the x-y coordinate plane. 
  3. Be able to graph inequalities. 
  4. Slope formula
  5. Slope-Intercept form
  6. Parallel and perpendicular line rules
  7. Distance Formula
  8. Midpoint Formula


Plane Geometry/Trigonometry

  • Plane Geometry (23%)
  1. Vertical Angles
  2. Supplementary Angles
  3. Complementary Angles
  4. Alternate Interior Angles
  5. Area and Circumference of a Circle
  6. Perimeter of Shapes
  7. Area of Square and Rectangle
  8. Area of Triangle
  9. Area of Parallelogram
  10. Area of Trapezoid
  11. Basics of Proofs
  12. Cylinder Volume
  13. Box Volume


  • Trigonometry (7%) 
  1. Sin
  2. Cos
  3. Tan
  4. Secant
  5. Cosecant
  6. Cotangent
  7. Basic Trigonometric Identities
  8. Graph of Sin and Cos
  9. Basics of Unit Circle (i.e. knowing quadrants)
  10. Radian/Degree Conversion

You can do my free ACT Math Flashcards for detailed summaries of these concepts. 

You can also check out my ACT Math Problems with Video Solutions for more extensive help.  

ACT English Test Content

ACT and SAT Test Prep, ACT English, ACT Prep
No Comments

The ACT provides a summary of the content covered on the English section here:

To most students, the way they describe what is on there doesn’t make much sense.  I have attempted to translate what they have in “ACT-speak” into common language. 

Usage/Mechanics  Half of the ACT English Test

  • Punctuation (13%).  Primarily you need to know commas.  Also, review usage of semicolons, colons and dashes.  It is critical that you don’t just know simple punctuation rules but how proper punctuation affects the meaning of sentences. 
  • Grammar and Usage (16%).  Look at subject verb agreement – words that need to agree with one another will often be separated, so you’ll really have to observe context clues.  Watch out for vague pronouns, idioms, and proper adjective and adverb usage.  Basically, make sure that the intended meaning matches up with the literal meaning. 
  • Sentence Structure (24%).  You have to be more than a proofreader – you need to be an editor.  Be certain that individual words and longer clauses are placed in a logical order. 

 Rhetorical Skills – The Other Half of the ACT English Test

  • Strategy (16%). You will need to examine the intent of the author, and pick answers that do what the author actually intended to do.  You will also need to see if phrases and sentences are relevant, or if they can be removed. 
  • Organization (15%).  You need to know where sentences and phrases should be placed – rearrange things until they make sense.  Also, you need to connect paragraphs, sentences and phrases with logical transitional words, like “but”, “also”, or “because”, as demanded by the situation.  You’ll also need to be able to think what a sensible introduction or a conclusion would be based on the context. 
  • Style (16%). This is big picture stuff. . .  How do you make an individual sentence have the same tone as the rest of an essay?  Depending on what the goal of the author is, how do you pick the best wording to express what is wanted?  How can you be clear with pronouns?  How can you prevent needless repetition and wordiness? 

If you want to sharpen your ACT English Skills, please take a look at my ACT Grammar Flashcards.

Also, please try some of the ACT English Practice Test Questions with Videos that I have made. 

Copyright 2019 | Blog Powered by Wordpress
Website By |