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ACT Exam Pattern – Paper Pattern, Duration, Questions, Section-wise Detail

ACT Exam Pattern – Paper Pattern, Duration, Questions, Section-wise Detail

Edited By Saba Ahmad | Updated on Sep 13, 2023 05:47 PM IST | #ACT

ACT Exam Pattern 2023 - The ACT® Test assesses the readiness of high school students who are aspiring to pursue their undergraduate studies in the US. The design of ACT exam pattern is designed in a way that the test takers can connect with their high school curriculum while preparing for it. ACT test pattern allows candidates to appear in any of the two formats of the ACT test. These two formats are ACT (without/no writing) and ACT (with writing). The choice of the format depends on the specifications of the preferred colleges in the US to which candidates are applying. The subjects included in the ACT test are English, mathematics, science, and reading. In this article, candidates would be able to gather information on the ACT exam pattern like type of questions, duration, scoring pattern, sub-scoring topics and ACT paper pattern details, etc.

Aspirants must understand that there is a sharp distinction between SAT and ACT exams. Unlike SAT, ACT is not an aptitude or an IQ test. It is more related to the high school curriculum and questions are directly related to what students have learnt during their high school. The ACT test is for four hours and students have to answer 215 questions. The test is designed so that the speed and endurance levels are measured. This is where knowing the ACT test pattern is advantageous as it allows students to plan their exam day well in advance.

Fast Facts About ACT Exam Pattern

ACT® Test Duration

3 hours and 55 minutes (With Essay)

2 hours and 55 minutes (Without Essay)

ACT Test Format

Two formats- ACT (no writing)

ACT (with writing)

Number of Questions

215 or 216 (One extra essay question for ACT with writing)

Type of Questions

Multiple-choice questions (MCQ)

Subjects asked in ACT® Test

English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science

Additional ACT tips

Additional 40 minutes is given to candidates who opt for ACT(with optional essay writing)

ACT Exam Structure in Detail

The exam authorities have given the details of the ACT test pattern 2023 for the benefit of candidates. The ACT exam format for the ACT computer-based test pattern and ACT paper pattern both are same. The details include the subjects, total questions, total marks, duration for each section and more. The detailed table below gives this information.

ACT Exam Pattern Overview


Duration (minutes)

Number of Questions/Tasks

Number of Answer Options




Multiple-choice questions with four or five choices




Multiple-choice referring and reasoning questions with four or five choices




Four-choices for one question, multiple-choice data representation, research summaries, and conflicting viewpoints questions




Four-choice, multiple-choice usage/mechanics and rhetorical skills questions

Writing (optional essay)



One writing prompt

The ACT total marks are measured on a scale of 1-36. The ACT exam total marks is the average of all the individual sections.

ACT Exam Pattern: Section-wise details

ACT Test Pattern for English: The exam is for 45 minutes and consists of 75 multiple-choice questions. The English test assumes that the test takers are writers who can make decisions to revise and edit a text. Short texts and essays in different genres are given to provide a variety of rhetorical situations. Passages are chosen to assess writing and language skills while reflecting students’ interests and experiences. Questions will be as follows

  • Underlined portions of passages with several alternatives to the underlined portion will be given. Candidates must decide which choice is most appropriate in the context of the given passage.

  • Some questions will ask about an underlined portion, a section of the passage, or the passage as a whole. Again test takers have to decide which choice is the best answer to the question posed.

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Note: Many questions also offer “NO CHANGE” as one of the choices.

Scores reported for the ACT English test are a total test score based on all 75 questions, and three reporting category scores based on specific knowledge and skills.

Each reporting category with the approximate percentage of the test devoted to is given as follows

1. Production of Writing (29–32%): Candidates are required to apply their understanding of the purpose and focus of a piece of writing. This section includes

  • Topic development includes an understanding of, and control over, the rhetorical aspects of texts, identification of the purposes of parts of texts, determination of whether a text or part of a text has met its intended goal, and evaluation of the relevance of the material in terms of a text’s focus.

  • Organization, unity, and cohesion: Use various strategies to make sure that a text is logically organized, flows smoothly, and has an effective introduction and conclusion.

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2. Knowledge of language (13–19%): Questions in this section showcase effective language usage by ensuring precision in word choice and maintaining consistency in style and tone.

3. Conventions of Standard English (51–56%): This section has questions that require students to apply an understanding of the conventions of standard English grammar, usage, and mechanics to revise and edit text. It has the following parameters:

  • Sentence structure and formation: Candidates must apply an understanding of sentence structure and formation in a text and make revisions to improve the writing.

  • Punctuation: They must recognize common problems with standard English punctuation and make revisions as needed

  • Usage: Recognition of common problems with standard English usage in a text and revisions to improve it

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Mathematics: According to the ACT exam pattern, the mathematics section of the ACT test takes 60 minutes to complete 60 questions; a multiple-choice test which assesses a student’s mathematical capability typically acquired in school courses until Grade 12.

Test takers need to use their analytical and reasoning skills to solve practical problems in the mathematics section. Also, candidates need to know and apply the basic formulas and computational skills, and basic knowledge of the subject. Candidates are not expected to know complex formulas and perform extensive computation in the ACT examination. A permitted calculator can be used in the mathematics section alone. It is the responsibility of the test takers to ensure that their calculator is permitted.

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ACT Syllabus

Along with question types and format mentioned in the ACT exam pattern, the concepts considered for the ACT exam for each subject are mentioned below.

Mathematics - Recent mathematics concepts that students are currently studying which include algebra, functions real & complex number systems, expressions, geometry, etc

English - Concepts like sentence structure and formation, punctuation, essay writing, etc.

Science - The concepts include biology, space sciences, chemistry and physics, etc.

ACT Calculator Policy

Reading: The reading section of the ACT Test is a 35-minute test comprising of 40 multiple-choice questions that evaluate candidates’ ability to solve reading comprehension questions. During the test, aspirants are required to derive meaning from several academic text passages that they are presented by:

  • referring to what has been explicitly mentioned

  • using their reasoning skills to determine the implicit meaning

Science: The science test, according to the ACT exam pattern measures the candidate's reasoning, interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and problem-solving skills, which are considered a prerequisite for admission in the natural sciences. The entire science section takes 35 minutes to complete and comprises 40 questions. The use of a calculator isn’t allowed during the science test.

Writing (Essay): The 40-minute writing test (or essay test) includes one writing prompt for judging a student’s writing skills –especially those skills that were acquired in high school and in entry-level college composition courses.

The test describes an issue and presents three alternatives before the student. Students are then required to evaluate and analyze these alternatives; come up with their own perspective, and finally to compare their perspective with those given. Also, scores aren’t affected by the nature of the perspective candidates take.

What time does ACT start?

This table gives a clear idea of the ACT test time breakdown. The duration of ACT English section is around 45 minutes.

ACT section

Start time

End time


8.30 am

9.15 am


9.15 am

10.15 am


10.15 am

10.25 am


10.25 am

11 am


11 am

11.35 am

Break (for writing students only)

11.35 am

11.40 am

Optional section

11.40 am

12.20 pm

Timings of the ACT Test

The ACT starts at 8.30 am and ends at 12.20 pm.

Salient Features Related to the ACT Exam Pattern

  • The ACT exam pattern is designed based on the high school curriculum to evaluate the academic capability of an aspirant in English, Mathematics, Reading and Science.

  • ACT scores are based on the number of correct answers. There is no negative marking for incorrect answers.

  • It includes an enhanced scoring pattern for reliable college and career planning insights: STEM Score, ELA Score, Progress Toward Career Readiness Indicator, and Text Complexity Progress Indicator.

The ACT conducting body does not specify any ACT eligibility criteria for ACT 2023, but considering it is a college admission test, it is generally taken by high school graduates across the globe. Typically, students aged above 13 appear for the ACT exam since they are the ones looking forward to admission in US schools for undergraduate studies. ACT exam is conducted over multiple dates and across many centres but candidates need to choose the preferred ACT test date and ACT test centre.

Read more:

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

1. What is the score range for the ACT exam??

The score range for the ACT exam ranges form 1-36. The final score or the composite score is the average score of the four sections. 

2. Is there negative marking in the ACT exam?

There is no negative marking in the ACT exam. You should attempt all the questions.

3. Is the ACT score accepted when applying for admission to all US colleges?

The ACT score is accepted by US universities that offer the four year graduate degree.

4. What is the format of ACT exam?
  • Reading - 75 multiple choice questions - 45 minutes
  • Math - 60 multiple choice questions - 60 minutes
  • Break
  • Reading - 40 multiple choice questions - 35 minutes
  • Science - 40 multiple choice questions - 35 minutes
  • Break
  • Writing - 1 essay - 40 minutes
5. Is there a pattern to the ACT?

Each test's scaled score, which ranges from 1-36, is calculated based on the test's raw result. The four multiple-choice tests' results are then averaged to produce a composite score on a scale of 1-36. The four tests are English, Math, Reading, and Science. 

6. What is the total marks of ACT?

The ACT exam score ranges from 1-36. The maximum highest score possible in the ACT is 36.

7. What time does the ACT test start and end?

The ACT test starts at 8.30 am and ends at 12.20 pm.


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Questions related to ACT

Have a question related to ACT ?

Hello Student

93.08 percentile in jee mains is not so hopeful percentile marks to get NITs for engineering  course of study. To get top NIT student has to secure at least 99 to 98 percentile of marks in jee mains examination. As you have got 93. Jio percentage of marks and your rank season around 53000, so there is a little hope of chance to get top NITs. Gate of NITs student should achieve the rank of 15000 to 20000.

Hope this will help.

Hey applicant!!

Now since you are pursuing your 11th Standard, you can prepare really well as it is the best time for you to utilise your time and seat for the exam, next comes your best preferable time to appear is in the month of November when you don't have much study pressure on your head, and before your finals you will have idea regarding the possible questions and how to answer them,

Hope it helps!!!

Hello Priya,

Let us assume two forces F1 and F2.

In the question , there are two conditions given and accordingly we need to solve the equations by forming two equations.

In the first condition, the angle between two forces is 90 degree so apply the formula for the resultant which is =

F1^2 + F2^2 +2F1F2 *cos 90 = 10^2 - - - (i)

In the second condition the equation will come out to be :-

F1^2 + F2^2 + 2 F1F2 cos 60 = (√13)^2 - - - 2

So from the first get the value of F1 in terms of F2 and substitute in the second equation and a quadratic equation will be formed.

hi there ,

As per your query ,

Firstly, it all depends on why you would want to do a graduate degree in Political Science (PS). If you wish to work in academia or think tanks, you would need to have a graduate degree in PS or related subjects

It focuses on understanding and implementing effective practices to develop and improve societies . Some of the subfields of Political Science are Political Theory, History of Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Methodology, Public Policy and others.

For further information , you can check out this link as given below:

Hope you understand , in case of any query you can comment here,

Thank you and all the best.

Hello aspirant,

Yes, if you are registered with the state bar council, you can practice law before clearing AIBE . However, in such a case, you will have to clear AIBE within two years from the date of registration at the state bar council. Since you have mentioned that you have cleared LLB in 1996, then it is not compulsory for you to give AIBE.

In the State Bar Council Meeting, the Bar Council passed a resolution that the "Right to practice" exam, popularly known as AIBE, is no more mandatory for the lawyers registering themselves in any state of the country.

Furthermore, the eligibility criteria to give AIBE Exam is as mentioned below : Candidates should hold 3 years or 5 years LL. B. degree from a BCI recognized law school. One should note that there is no minimum percentage to qualify in the examination in order to register for the AIBE exam.

Further, to know more about the AIBE Exam you  can follow the link below to know more about it :'

I hope that this will help.

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