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ACT Exam 2018 – 2019 | India

ACT general information on the eligibility, pattern, exam dates, test centers in India, exam fee (test price) and the best free ACT preparation material.

 
If you have a dream to land abroad after your board exams, you need to step up and ace some other tests too! ACT is a standardized test for undergraduates to prove their mettle in front of admission committees of the foreign lands.
 

What is ACT?

The full form of ACT is American College Testing.

The ACT is a standardized test that is administered by the non-profit ACT to ascertain the college readiness of a high school student. (Read more about the college admissions process in USA.)

It was introduced as a competitor to the SAT in 1959, and the two tests closely mirror each other in their objective (serving as a reliable indicator of college preparedness for high school students) and the framework adopted to achieve that objective. Since the last 5 years, both ACT and SAT are accepted by almost all major universities for undergraduate admissions in the US.
 

ACT Eligibility

Though ACT does not specifically list any prerequisites for the exam, it is generally taken by 13+-year-old high school students. There are no age or grade restrictions to appear for the exam. However, you will need an International credit/debit card to register for the exam and a valid International passport to serve as a valid identification proof.
 

ACT Exam Dates

International test dates for ACT can be found on their website, which they update every year. International students have 5 test dates allotted in total, and 3 of them fall in the September to December season. In general, you need to register for the test at least 1 month prior to the test date. If you want to be on the safer side, it is advisable to appear for it 1st in April/June to have a time-window for improvement in the usually rushed fall season. That would allow for plenty of time to learn from your mistakes and formulate a plan for capitalizing on the strengths, in case you decide to sit for the exam for the 2nd time in the fall season (around September).
 

ACT Fees

ACT with no writing component costs $46, whereas ACT with a writing component costs $62.50. However, there is an additional international testing fee of $57.50. As most Indian students opt for the writing component as well, the total fees is $120, which is ~INR 7700 based on the current exchange rate. There are also the usual fees for sending score reports to additional schools (you are eligible to send the score reports to 4 schools for free).

Current ACT Fees is published on their website.
 

ACT Exam Pattern

ACT assigns higher importance to curriculum-based learning inside school instead of just raw aptitude, as compared to the SAT. It tests you on areas related to English, Mathematics, Reading and Science. The endurance of the individual is tested along with the knowledge, as the test stretches for around 3 hours in total. You can add 40 minutes to the total time if you have opted for a writing essay too. The test comprises of 215 multiple choice questions. No negative marking is there, so intelligent guessing is recommended.

Here is a general overview of the ACT pattern:

Section Number of Questions & Time Limit Content/Skills Covered Question Types
English 75 questions in 45 min. grammar & usage, punctuation, sentence structure, strategy, organization, and style four-choice, multiple-choice usage/mechanics and rhetorical skills questions
Math 60 questions in 60 min. pre-algebra, elementary algebra, intermediate algebra, coordinate geometry, plane geometry, and trigonometry five-choice, multiple-choice questions
Reading 40 questions in 35 min. reading comprehension of what is directly stated or implied four-choice, multiple-choice referring and reasoning questions
Science 40 questions in 35 min. interpretation, analysis, evaluation, reasoning, and problem solving four-choice, multiple-choice data representation, research summaries, and conflicting viewpoints questions
Writing (optional) 1 essay in 40 min. writing skills essay prompt

Here is a guide to give you a general idea about the common types of ACT questions that can be asked.
 

What’s a good score on ACT?

Like all admissions abroad, the final call depends on the overall profile of the applicant rather than a single metric of performance like the ACT. Hence, definition of a ‘good score’ is subjective and dependent on the schools which fall on your radar. ACT comprises of four sections- English, Mathematics, Reading and Science; and every section receives a score from 1-36. The composite score (or final score) is the average of the 4 scores from different sections and ranges from 1-36 too.

Below is a table by Magoosh showing the 25th and 75th percentile scores (meaning 25% of admitted students had lower scores and 25% had higher scores) for Top 10 ranked schools:
 

College Ranking College Name 25th Percentile Scores 75th Percentile Scores
1 Princeton University 32 35
2 Harvard University 32 35
3 University of Chicago 32 35
4 Yale University 31 35
5 (tie) Columbia University 32 35
5 (tie) Stanford University 31 35
7 Massachusetts Institutes of Technology (MIT) 33 35
8 (tie) Duke University 31 34
8 (tie) University of Pennsylvania 31 34
10 Johns Hopkins University 32 34

 
However, just like most standardized tests, it is used primarily as a filtering mechanism. If you have a score that is out-of-line considering your target school, it is likely going to be difficult for you to convince them to accept you (unless you are close to finding a cure for cancer or thereabouts). The average ACT composite score hovers around 21.

It might be a good idea to decide on a target score after taking a diagnostic test.
 

ACT Preparation Resources

Preparing for the ACT is a methodical process and depends on your grasp of high-school fundamentals. The amount of preparation is highly variable and depends on the target score, but 80-100 hours of dedicated preparation suffices for a majority of individuals. The official document from ACT contains the strategies for the preparation of the test.

Official ACT Prep Guide is an excellent starting point for the preparation and might be the only resource you’ll ever need for landing a scoring in your target range. Magoosh is another excellent resource for preparation. It contains a wealth of information and will help you in formulating a study schedule as well. Here is another link to an article that lists the important ACT prep websites you can benefit from.
 

ACT Test Centers in India

Here is a link to locate ACT test centers in India. It is a good idea to do some preliminary research about testing centers, as the setting of the test might play a role in your disposition (and hence performance). Moreover, it is advisable to book the best slot/center combination as early as possible.
 

ACT Test Samples

Official Practice Test by ACT is a handy resource if you are just starting with your preparation. It includes a full-length practice test (including a writing test) and also lists down strategies to cope during exam preparation and test day tips. Kaplan and Princeton Review also provide free sample practice tests. Here is a link to the resource that has a collection of free full-length ACT practice tests.

Here is a list of best books for ACT recommended by Magoosh, if you want to go above and beyond the free resources.

Continue reading:
ACT syllabus and general pattern
ACT preparation
Best ACT Books
ACT or SAT: Which is better?
 
Learn more about these other entrance exams: Read about these other exams: GMAT, GRE, SAT, LSAT, MCAT, IELTS